The Angel of San Diego

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Chapter 12 - Dinner Guest

The music from “The Addams Family” theme came from his jacket pocket. Robin woke up in the desk chair and reached for his cell phone. The clock above the couch said it was seven thirty. Seven thirty? It felt like I was out for hours. He pressed the answer button.

“Yes, Nancy, I did it again.”

“That’s all right, Robin. I just wanted to make sure you got home soon so you could have a hot meal for a change. I made a roast.”

“Thanks. I’m on my way.”

He hung up the phone. Lifting his six-foot frame out of the chair, he switched off the desk lamp. The light of the full moon streamed through the window.

It gets dark early these days he thought. It would be nice to have a hot meal for a change. I haven’t had one of those in days. Robin made a habit of napping at the office after hours. Not by choice, but because the psychic telephone service was very tiring. So, he missed a lot of hot meals.

He locked the door behind him and headed down the stairs.

Out on the street, people were still milling around. The coffeehouse next door was jumping. Must be a good band there tonight, he thought.

He could hear the music coming out the open door. Inside was a quartet playing jazz. The guy on the vibraphone knew how to play real jazz – not the phony stuff you usually hear – and the girl doing all the singing was actually quite good. He would like to have stayed, but he had promised Nancy to come home.

Home. That had a strange ring to it. It had been a long time since he had any place he could call home. If not for Nancy, he would be living in the gutter again.

Thank God for Nancy.

Nancy, it turned out, was pretty well off. She didn’t have to work. She owned her own home in the hills of El Cajon. It was a Victorian style house with enough rooms to open a bed and breakfast. In her younger days, she rented rooms to college students for practically nothing just to help them get through their school years. She “retired” from that a year ago. It wasn’t the fact she was getting older, she liked having the kids around, but something inside her told her she needed to prepare for something new coming her way that was going to change her life forever.

Two months after the last tenant moved out she found Robin wandering the psychic fair. Now the two of them shared the old house. She came to love Robin like a son. Robin had strong feelings for her as well, but he didn’t like to let on.

He parked the Pacer on the street and climbed the twenty-seven steps to the door. The house had a covered porch. To the left of the door were an old fashioned glider, a wrought iron table, and three ornate chairs. The porch stretched around to the right side of the house where there were several other chairs, tables, and another glider. The front door was a dark mahogany colored solid wood door with an oval stained glass window depicting humming birds in flight in the center of it. He opened the door and stepped into the foyer.

She never locks her door. He smiled. My mom was like that too. She had that small town mentality.

Nancy was also a true psychic and always seemed to know when to lock the door and when not to.

He looked at himself in the mirror hanging next to the door. His hair had finally grown out long enough to cover the electrodes. He ran a brush through his hair to neaten it up. Looks like I need another haircut, he thought. Luckily, my barber can work around my spikes.

As Robin entered the dining room he saw Nancy setting a large dish of roast beef and vegetables on the table. He also noticed a little girl sitting in a chair across from his. She was smiling and watching Nancy intently.

She looked to be about seven or eight years old. She had long blondish hair which was done up in two pigtails that hung down the front of her blue checked denim dress. Two blue bows decorated the ends of each braid to keep them from coming undone. She didn’t take notice of Robin’s entrance.

“Hi, Nancy, I didn’t know we were having company for dinner.”

“We’re not. Go ahead and start I have to get the iced tea,” she said as she left the room.

“Hello,” Robin said to the girl.

“Hello, Robin,” she said.

“You know my name.”

“Of course, you live here with my friend Nancy.”

“What’s your name?”

“Amanda. Amanda Potts.”

“Well, Amanda Potts, it’s nice to meet you”

He reached out to shake her hand but she just sat there.

“You don’t want to do that, Robin.”

“Why not?”

“Because you know what shaking someone’s hand does to you.”

“You’re right of course, I always forget that and then I regret it afterward. Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it.”

Robin sat down again.

He noticed she had no place setting.

“Aren’t you eating?”

“No, thank you, I’m not hungry.”

“Well, I hope you don’t mind, but I am starved and this smells wonderful!” He said as he filled his plate.

Amanda smiled at him and said, “That’s okay, I don’t mind.”

“You sure know a lot about me, Amanda Potts. Maybe more than I do. Am I right?”

“Talking to yourself now, Robin?” Nancy had just come back carrying the iced tea pitcher.

“No. I was talking to Amanda Potts, your dinner guest.”

Nancy put the pitcher on the table and studied Robin’s face.

“Are you making a joke at my expense?”

Amanda laughed.

Robin glanced at Amanda and then looked at Nancy. “Oh. I get it. You two decided to play a joke on Robin.” He pointed his fork at Nancy and then to Amanda Potts. “You pretend not to know she’s here so I’ll think I’m seeing things… right?”

Nancy shook her head, “No. Now, who told you about Amanda Potts?”

“She did.”

“That’s impossible – she doesn’t exist.”

“If she doesn’t exist then how come she’s sitting right over there?” He pointed his fork to the chair across from him. Amanda smiled and giggled.

“She’s what?” Nancy was taken aback.

“She’s sitting right there, blond hair, pigtails, gingham dress, and all. Now don’t pretend that you don’t see her.”

“Oh my goodness,” Nancy gasped. “I never knew… I always thought… Oh my, my, my…” She stood there for a moment and then sank into her chair. She looked at the chair Amanda Potts was sitting in, but saw no one there. She looked back to Robin. Her face was ashen.

“You look upset, Nancy. What’s wrong?”

“When I was a young girl of seven, my father was in business with a man named Velvet. The Velvets owned this house then – or rather I should say my husband’s parents owned it. Horatio Velvet was my father’s partner, and because of that my mother was a friend of Mrs. Velvet.

“Whenever Mother visited, I would come along and was usually left to play by myself. The Velvet’s had three children, but they were all grown and out of the house. My future husband, Claude, was twenty and living in Michigan then.

“Anyway, I spent many hours playing with my imaginary friend, Amanda Potts.” She looked back at Amanda Potts, but only saw an empty chair. “At least, I thought she was imaginary… until now.”

Robin looked at Amanda Potts and said, “I don’t understand. She’s sitting right there across from me, so she’s definitely real, but she’s still seven and you’re sixty so… am I hallucinating?”

“No, dear, you’re not hallucinating. All these years and I never realized,” tears welled up in her eyes.

“Realized what?”

“Amanda Potts is a spirit,” she dabbed her eyes with a napkin. “A ghost if you like. I never realized. I didn’t know about my gifts at seven. I only knew I was different, somehow. By the time I knew why I was different, I was older and in college in another town. I had forgotten all about her. I let her down. I’m so sorry, Amanda. I…” she faltered.

“Are you saying that I’m seeing a g– that she’s a – You mean I was talking to a –,” he stopped. He looked at Amanda’s smiling face. She doesn’t look dead, he thought.

“Are you all right, Robin?” Amanda Potts asked.

“Yeah, I think so.” He smiled nervously at the little girl. She smiled back. “Amanda,” he began, “Are you really a gh…”

Before he could finish Amanda giggled and promptly disappeared. Robin stared at the empty chair. “And I thought they all wore sheets and said ‘Boo!’” He looked at Nancy, “She left before I could…”

He stopped in mid-sentence when he noticed that Nancy had tears in her eyes, “What’s the matter, Nancy?”

“I let you down Amanda,” she said to the empty chair. “I didn’t mean to. I was only seven and I didn’t realize – I didn’t know. I…” she faltered again. She picked up her napkin and dabbed her eyes.

“I don’t understand, Nancy. How do you let a ghost down? What could they ever need from us?”

“Closure, Robin, closure,” She said simply.

“You’ve lost me on this one.”

“The reason most spirits remain here is that they have unfinished business. Something that is important enough to them that they refuse to move on.”

“So they haunt people? How does that accomplish closure?”

“The world of spirits is too complicated to describe in one conversation, Robin. There are volumes and volumes of books on the subject. For instance, some spirits are here to help us. They whisper in our ears, so to speak, to give us guidance.”

“You mean like the Guardian Angel myth,” Robin said flatly.

“Do you really think it’s a myth? Or is there something in your past that has made you think that. How do you know they don’t exist?”

Robin thought about it for a few seconds. Then he said, “Before my death and subsequent resurrection I would have given you an argument there, but now I know that anything is possible.”

“Good, because it’s a fact… some spirits guide. They try to lead you to the right paths in life. We like to call them Guardian Angels. Some spirits need help finishing things they left undone or right some wrong – they usually pick on the more sensitive of us to help them. The people we call psychic. Others misguide. They are the poltergeists that are either mischievous spirits – they like to cause you trouble – or they’re angry about something. They smash things and misplace your keys. They give you bad advice, but don’t confuse the poltergeist with the evil ones. They are dangerous spirits and when listened to cause great harm.

“All those spirits influence us mortals, even those of us who have no perceivable gifts. They influence every one of us. The trick is to listen only to the ones who mean us well and for those of us with gifts to help those who need closure so they can move on into the light where they belong.”

“I had a conversation with Amanda before you brought the tea in and she didn’t say anything about needing help. In fact she looked perfectly happy to me.”

Nancy was lost in her own thoughts and only half heard him. She dabbed her eyes again and looked at him.

“When I was seven, Amanda Potts and I played together. She told me that the Velvets bought this house from a family that had a young daughter who had contracted polio and died. She said that her spirit wouldn’t go into the light until she could find her parents to tell them that they shouldn’t blame themselves for her disease because they couldn’t have done anything to stop her from getting it. You see there wasn’t a Polio vaccine then.

“Later she told me that she was the little girl and that she needed my help to find her mom and dad. I didn’t even think about being afraid of her because we had played together and were friends. Actually, I thought it was kind of neat having a ghost as a friend.

“I tried to get my parents to help us, but they told me that Amanda didn’t exist. She was a ‘pretend friend’ and I needed to find a real one.”

“So what did you do then?”

“Nothing, I believed them. After all, whoever heard of anyone having a ghost as a friend? Casper was a cartoon, so Amanda Potts must be imaginary. Eventually I stopped seeing her. I haven’t seen a spirit since. I hope she can forgive me.”

“I didn’t feel any animosity there, Nancy. She just seemed happy to be near you… wait a minute… Her parents are long dead by now. What could possibly be keeping her here?”

“I don’t know, Robin, but the next time you see her I’d like to know. I want to try to talk to her… if I can.”

Robin looked at his plate. His food was cold. So much for a hot meal, he thought.

He began to eat anyway. “You know,” he said between mouthfuls, “If I had seen Amanda Potts before I met you I would have freaked out. Come to think of it: What was my spirit doing for eighteen months while I was dead?”

“Who knows? For one reason or another you aren’t supposed to know at this point and time or you would.”

Robin looked at Nancy as if trying to figure out what she had just said, decided not to bother, shook his head, and went back to his cold beef. They ate for a while in silence. Nancy finally spoke up, “How was your day?”

“Fine, the usual stuff… it sure is tiring though,” and boring he thought.

“Yes. Exercising your mind’s gifts is tiring, but it is necessary. In order for you to reach your full potential you need to keep the hot line going no matter how boring it is.”

“Yes, but that office chair is starting to give me a bad back.”

“I thought you loved that chair.”

“Yes…for sitting…not for sleeping. I think my spine is starting to become U shaped.”

“If it does, it will give me the opportunity to teach you how to do psychic healing,” she said, teasing him.

“Very funny… Say, does that work on cars too? I think your Pacer could use some help,” he quipped back.

Nancy looked at him over her glasses and shook her fork in his direction. “If you keep making fun of my car, young man, you may find yourself walking to work until that fancy car you special ordered arrives.”

“Okay. Okay. I’ll stop.” He grinned. Thank God for Nancy.

She smiled back at him and continued sawing on her beef.

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