Adkins was barely into the first sentence of his novel when he received a stiff blow to the back of his head – he died instantly.
I know because I was that writer.
Howard Richmal Adkins, born 3rd May, 1957, died 3rd May, 2015 – not the best birthday that I’d ever had, but the most memorable from the viewpoint of my now being a ghost.
I think that after due consideration I was held back from the afterlife because there was a serious wrong outstanding that needed me to put it right. The main reason for my requirement being that I was the only one who knew that a serious wrong ‘was’ outstanding.
I had been considering writing my novel for some time now – as a first novel there was little time left to me before my expiry date (how little, even I was surprised at) and so I had set myself the task of sourcing an adventure that could then be written up as a book that took the best-seller lists by storm. As of current count, I have still to sell a copy – due to my unexpected and untimely death.
However, let me stop all this waffling and take you back to the start of my actual ‘real-life’ adventure.
It was on a day in late November back in the year 2012, about eleven-fifteen at night, and I was stranded in deepest, darkest Oxfordshire. The last bus had long gone and I was miles from civilisation.
I had been to one of these ‘raves’ where the music pumps like a jack-hammer into your brain and the lights and smoke dull any clarity in your unfocused mind. There was a lot of drink in evidence and little pills to lift you up – and also some to bring you back down again – both of ‘these’ I avoided, just.
I had been looked upon as an ‘oldie’ by most of the ‘bright-young-things’ there; but, I was accepted without question into the ranks. True, I was grandfather material to a lot of the youngsters, but I was not alone in the ‘wrinkly-brigade.’
My companion on that eventful night was a lady (by ‘our’ standards) who went by the name of Letitia du Worthy (don’t ask) a mid-forties woman from the late-sixties (you do the maths) with a mid to upper class ancestry that made Tottina Toffville from Tottington look like gutter trash (or so she told me).
Lettie (my rave name for her) and I (called by her ‘How?’ Yes, always as a question) had been gyrating our moves on the dance floor amongst the fit young things as though we didn’t care, and as though no-one was looking (though they were – and laughing). We stopped after a seasonable amount of sweat and toil and removed ourselves to the makeshift bar for a light refreshment – which turned out to consist of bottled alcohol, with tart, sugary flavourings that could only be described as… well, tart!
“Getting on a bit!” I called to Lettie above the noise.
“Speak for yourself!” She mouthed back.
“No – the time!” I explained; feeling that she knew that anyway.
“It’s nine-fifty-five!” She mimed exasperation at my lack of staying power. “I’m staying for more – off you go to Beddie-byes!”
I realised that it was much too early to leave; another half-an-hour, perhaps.
And that was when I mistakenly drank from the wrong bottle of tartness (although I didn’t immediately realise) and soon keeled over in the midst of ‘Radalalaboomthang’ or the like.
They pulled me off the floor and propped me up to the side near an air flap (so I was unreliably informed later) so that I could recover. They initially thought that I was having a heart attack (but, that was before I keeled, and was just my antiquated dance moves).
I never saw Lettie again. Nor my wallet and its contents.
When I recovered enough to leave (and after a futile search for Lettie) I left. Finding myself in the aforesaid bleak Oxfordshire countryside at 11:15pm with just my clothing and empty pockets.
Except, that is, for a folded piece of paper that I discovered with a phone number on it – one of those ‘mobile’ ones.
‘How?’ I asked myself. This was quickly replaced by the more interesting ‘Who?’ And if I had been a Douglas Adams’ creation, I would have then asked ‘Where do I go for the best breakfast this side of the Apocalypse?’ But, I wasn’t, and so I didn’t. Shame.
I pushed that number deeply back into my pocket for later; and got on with the job in hand of finding my way home.
I recalled the address where I lived rather well; though how to get there was a little less forthcoming. I decided to keep walking along this road and see where it led (which is the story of my life really). Off I went, dimly thinking that the sun would rise in the East, and I would be able to reach London by Christmas. The fact that I lived in Oxford, and wanted to reach there by breakfast being a later update to my thinking.