Mrs Bolger had finished her household chores and was relaxing in her front garden basking in the glorious afternoon sunshine. The soothing sound of Vivaldi softly playing on the stereo added perfectly to her mood. With a good book in hand and a cool glass of Chardonnay beside her on the picnic table she was ready to spoil herself for the rest of the day.
Mrs Bolger or DD as she was known to her friends was a cheerful, generous and very warm hearted woman. Approaching her sixtieth birthday she was a little under five feet tall and her time-worn complexion was mottled by freckles brought on by the summer weather. Never one for vanity her hair was silver and cut boyishly short. She was halfway through her book when she was disturbed by the sound of old Mrs Fagin from next door opening her creaking front gate. Mrs Fagin kept very much to herself and the most you'd ever get from her was a cursory “Mornin” or “Evenin”.
The old lady walked with the aid of one of those “Rollator” thing's and was stooped and laborious in her movement. Dressed from head to toe in black and with wispy long white hair escaping from under her tattered hat, it was no wonder that the local children were afraid of her and called her “The Witch”, “The Hag” or “The Crone”
DD watched idly as the old lady made her precarious way up the overgrown path to her front door. She fumbled for a few moments with her keys before gaining entry into the dark recesses of the gloomy house. Just as the woman closed the door DD noticed Henry slip his way in behind her.
“What on Earth” she thought. “What in Gods name is Henry up to? He has no business in the there”.
DD returned to her novel and forgot all about Henry. After all he was well able to take care of himself.
Later as evening approached DD roused herself from a light slumber and put the chair and table back in their place under the stairs and ambled into the kitchen for tea. Table set, kettle on and sandwiches, scones and jam all ready she wondered what was keeping Henry. He was never late for meals, especially tea.
Tea finished and dishes washed and put away there was still no sign of Henry coming home. DD decided to call in next door to see what was keeping him. With a solid Knock, Knock, Knock she banged on Mrs Fagin's door, but there was no answer. Slightly perturbed she made her way around to the back of the house and tried calling through the door.
”Mrs Fagin, I say Mrs. Fagin. Are you there? I'm looking for Henry. Have you seen him?”
She was answered with nothing but silence and started to become a little more concerned. She tried the door and gave it a push. It opened with great reluctance and DD could see that it hadn't been used for years. Cobwebs clung to her face and hair as she proceeded nervously into the darkness.
Trying to hold her breath against the awful stench of mould and decay she made her way deeper inside. The place was filthy and stuffed to the rafters with old newspapers, books, empty bottles and Lord knows what else. Stepping silently from room to room DD eventually found herself in the old woman's bedroom. Mrs Fagin appeared to be sound asleep with Henry lying right beside her. Henry looked up and sprang right into her arms, purring softly as she stroked him. “ Silly Henry. What are you doing here. Bold kitty”she admonished.
As a ray of late evening sunshine danced on Mrs Fagin's pillow, DD realised that the poor thing was not asleep after all. She had passed away. Quite some time ago, judging by the state of her emaciated body. She gently closed the old lady's eyes and covered her with a sheet before retreating to the back door and the freedom of the garden. It took all of her courage to compose herself and return home to call the Gardai.
A nice young Garda who identified himself as Kieran Ryan and fresh out of Templemore judging by the look of him, took her statement. She couldn't explain how she had seen the old lady on the footpath that afternoon as Garda Ryan estimated that she'd been dead for at least a week. Neither could she understand how or why Henry had managed to find his way into her bedroom. She couldn't explain it. But she was quite sure of what she had seen.
Mrs Fagin had no living relatives, so the local council took possession of her home. The council workmen seemed to take forever to fumigate and clean the lonely house and to make it habitable once again.
Just before Christmas new people moved into the old house, George and Sally O'Meara and their little daughter Aoifa. They were a lovely family. George was a handsome young man with a full head of dark wavy hair and a winning smile. He was a manager in the local bank and his wife Sally was a pre-school teacher. She complimented her husband's good looks with her own beauty. Long blonde hair surrounded a face fit to grace the front of any fashion magazine. Young Aoifa who had inherited her looks from Sally, loved to spend time in DD's kitchen eating home-made scones with jam and cream. DD enjoyed the comfort of having a young couple living nearby and was starting to feel as if they were the family that she had never had..
The following year DD again found herself in her garden drinking a nice glass of wine while reading a good book and once again she heard the creak of that old rusty gate. This was indeed strange because the council had replaced it with a new gate while renovating the house. DD looked up and was shocked to see Old Mrs Fagin make her way up to her front door. The ghostly spirit simply passed through the solid door and on into the house. Henry was nowhere to be seen and DD supposed that he was busy taking care of the Old Crone just as he had looked after her a year ago.