As we sat there, watching the latest detective solving his latest whodunit on the TV, Cathy and I would often laugh about how it always seemed to be someone out walking their dog who found the body. Cathy would often say that I should always make sure I’d charged my mobile before I took Meg out each morning, because one day I could end up being the dog walker who discovers the body.
Not that Cathy or I had ever really expected to come across a body, not in our sleepy little backwater village.
Here I was, though, standing just off the familiar path where I walked Meg every morning: summer or winter, rain or shine. I was looking down into the trees and at the dead body that lay awkwardly against the base of a tree, its feet almost in the narrow brook, just under where the wooden bridge crossed over it.
I would never get to make that breathless panicked 999 call on my mobile though. One reason was that the police were already here, secondly, and more importantly – to me at least – because that dead body I was staring at was mine.
Faithfully, Meg was sitting by the body, a very young-looking and slightly queasy seeming PC holding her lead. Every now and then, though, Meg would look up to where I was standing in the trees. She would cock her head to one side as if tying to make sense of the fact that she could see me in two places at once.
There were several detectives - I presumed that was what they were – standing around the body. One of them, wearing a long old-fashioned coat and the sort of hat that only appears these days in black-and-white films on TV in the afternoons detached himself from the group and made his way up to me.
I - believing I must be some sort of ghost – expected him to just walk through me, maybe shivering, as his body met my incorporeal form, or something like that.
Instead, he looked up to me.
‘So, y'know, how do you feel? About being dead, that is?’
‘You can see me?’
He just nodded and seemed to be considering lighting a cigarette, absently patting the pockets of the overcoat.
‘But, I thought... well, none of the others are able to see me, except Meg... the dog.’
‘Yes, well dogs… they can't exactly see us... but they sense us.’
He nodded again.
‘So... you... are....’ I shook my head in wonder. ‘I thought you were with the police?’
I looked over towards where the detectives, forensic people and so forth were gathered around the body that I still couldn't quite believe was me.
‘No, not with them,’ he said. ‘Although, I used to be. No, I work for the police on this side.’
‘Come on,’ he said. ‘Let's get away from here. I think I may have some explaining to do.’