Chapter 4.

Look – there!’  Angelic Angela’s darkly-defined eyes, ghostly white face and smoky breath were even more intimidating at close quarters, as she leaned into him, her index finger pointing at a particular cluster of stars.

SImon leaned fractionally away from her.

No, I don’t see any monkey in the sky,’ he repeated for the second time.

Ah well, shame.  It’s pretty cool.

Angela dropped her finger and relit her joint for another drag.

As the pale herb-scented smoke wafted skyward, she resumed their previous conversation.

So, she left you?  Just like that?  Just because you quit a dead-end job to pursue your gift?’

I guess that was why.  She never said she was unhappy until she realised I had ditched my job.’

Simon shrugged his shoulders, and picked purposefully at a piece of rough wood on the balcony railing.  Somehow, he couldn’t bring himself to destroy Angela’s image of him by telling her that he had, in fact, been sacked from his job. He was beginning to like the version of himself that was forming in her mind.  It was an image that positioned him alongside other gifted souls struggling to earn a crust from their talents – a much more flattering version than the one Eve had of him as a liar and an incompetent.

But a small confession on his part, Simon felt, might further secure his position in Angela’s mind.

To be honest,’ he said, turning back to face Angela and away from his task of stripping splinters off the railing, ‘until this new guide came along, I wasn’t all that wonderful as a psychic reader.

Angela put a comforting hand on his arm.

Don’t worry about that, Simon – we all start out the same way.  If everyone around us doubts our gift, how can we take it seriously enough ourselves?  But that’s one great guide you’ve got now.   It’s been a long time since I have seen anyone give a reading like the one you gave tonight.’

Simon’s first Psychics Anonymous meeting had been such a success that he was still riding high on the back of it several hours later.  Agador Spartacus, relishing the attention, had brought through, with lisping eloquence, a string of appropriate messages from beyond the grave for almost everyone in the room.  Grandmothers, grandfathers, old friends and a motley crew of the undead had all taken their invisible places in the echoing hall at the top of the stairway.  And one by one, Agador had translated their messages to Simon, who had done his best to translate them into intelligible English.

I know!’ Angela’s excited voice lifted an octave from her normal deep tone.  ‘Why don’t you go and tell your girlfriend about your new guide?  Stand in your power and tell her what has happened! I’m sure she’d give you guys another chance if she knew how things are changing for you.’

Tell her about Agador?’  Simon wasn’t convinced that telling Eve he had a new spirit guide would encourage his ex to reconsider her decision to leave him.

Well, maybe not by name,’ Angela conceded.

What is wrong with my name?’ Agador’s lisp cut into Simon’s thoughts, attracting his attention to a detail he hadn’t registered.

Why not by name?’ he asked Angela.

Well, you know – he wasn’t exactly the wisest of characters, was he?’ she smiled.

In the moment of silence that followed, as Simon racked his brains searching for anything that would explain Angela’s comment and prevent him from showing his ignorance, Agador’s indignation could be felt bristling in the ether.

But Angela didn’t consider herself a psychic for nothing.

The Birdcage?’ she prompted, correctly interpreting Simon’s silence.

I am not the same Agador!’ Simon’s spirit guide hissed in his ear.

Ask him if he can wear shoes,’ she further prompted with a grin, seeing Simon was still struggling to make connections.

‘That is not fair,’ Agador protested to Simon.  ‘Only humans wear shoes. I will not answer that question. She is mocking me!

Simon was beginning to feel like the third wheel, his only purpose to serve as a translator for Agador to Angela in a conversation he didn’t understand.

He says only humans wear shoes,’ he nevertheless repeated to her.

Angela laughed, a big belly laugh that echoed out into the night.

So he is the same Agador then?  I hope he has wised up a bit since he passed on to the next life!’

No, I am not the same Agador!’ came the reply from the other side.  ‘I died long before him.’

Then, ‘He was named after me,’ the spirit guide conceded.

Simon frowned.

Well, go on then,’ Angela said, seeing his expression.  ‘He’s saying something else, isn’t he?’

He says the character was named after him,’  Simon repeated, hoping the response would make sense to Angela in a way that it didn’t to him.  From her reaction, it clearly did.

And how is that reassuring?’ she chuckled. ‘Either way, I’m not sure I would be openly sharing his name.’

Again, the ether bristled with Agador’s silent huff.

Look,’ she said gently, ‘We all saw tonight what a great pair you two make – the partnership obviously works.  But the name might just get in the way of people being open to what you have to say, so maybe just keep it a secret for the time being, eh?  Or find a nickname for him.  And for heaven’s sake, go and watch the Birdcage so you know what I’m talking about!

She pulled her shawl closer around her shoulders and turned back indoors.

Simon stood for a moment, gazing at the streetlights of Pee Pee down below, mulling over his options.

Agador…Ag…Aggie…Aunt Aggie…

A variety of potential nicknames presented themselves.

Are you kidding me?’ came the ethereal protest.  ‘I will not work with you if you call me any of those.’

If you don’t work with me, you’ll be stuck as a trainee spirit guide,’ Simon countered.  That was another detail he’d conveniently chosen not to share with Angela.

And if you don’t work with me, you’ll never get your girl back!’ Agador almost spat in his ear.


No, that didn’t really work either.

And was he really negotiating with a spirit guide?  Could you do that?  You could negotiate with a human, so Simon couldn’t see why it wasn’t possible to negotiate with a dead one.  It just wasn’t something he’d ever heard anyone doing before.  But, yes, Agador was right – he needed to find a way of working with him if he was going to get Eve back.  And, yes, he had decided earlier that evening that making amends with his girl was his next priority.

What about using plain Spartacus as a name?  That had a certain authoritative Grecian ring to it, didn’t it?

‘Eve, before you make any final decision, I need to tell you about Spartacus,’ he said out loud, toying with the name.

Yeth,’ Agador interrupted, the lisp exaggerated by his enthusiasm.  ‘Thpartacuth is good.’

Simon turned away from the nightscape, joining Angela indoors.

Spartacus, Angela – that will work as a name, he said decisively.  ‘And yes – you’re right.  I will go and talk to Eve.  We had something good going and I don’t want to lose her.  Like Number 9 in the Twelve Step programme says, I have to make amends to those I have hurt through my behaviour.  And we wouldn’t be apart now if I had taken my gift seriously in the first place.

(Image source: psychedelicmonkey.tumblr.com)