David Clark is a British businessman, who lived and worked in Bulgaria for 12 years before retiring to Norfolk U.K. He is writing short stories and poems. When he was living in Sofia, he had published stories in different media. A contributor to “Sofia Echo” newspaper. He had received an award for a short story from “Manager” magazine. At the moment he is living in England and sending stories to the expat site Sofia Globe. David is married to Galya, his Bulgarian wife for 16 years. He is a member of Writers Club in Hethersett, Norfolk and publish short stories in local media as „Village people“and others.
A CHRISTMAS GHOST STORY
Nikolai hummed softly to himself, he was feeling emotional now he was at last back in his homeland and on his way home for Christmas. His throat had tightened and a tear had run down his face when he had cleared the border, but he was eagerly anticipating the welcome from his mother and his friends in the little village perched high in the Rhoddopi mountains. What tales he would have to tell !! He could imagine himself in the little café, sitting next to a roaring log fire with his friends. They would eat shopska salad and drink rakia, telling each other stories of this two years triumphs and disasters, but this time, he, would hold centre stage, everyone would want to know about his life in Germany, such a distant and wonderful place for his village friends. Nickolai had been born the second son of the village carpenter, he was a diligent pupil, and had worked hard to earn his place in computing at Sofia University. He had graduated with honours and had vowed he wouldn’t waste these skills and knowledge in his country, where pay was so low and opportunities so limited, he would take his hard earned skills abroad, for a new life.
The Opel purred along the roads, splashing through the many puddles, and pot holes, the rain came down in torrents out of a black and threatening sky, it would probably turn to snow as he climbed the mountains. Still, the little car which he had saved for and brought out of his first years salary, was in good condition, and he had stopped on the way to buy a set of chains just in case.
He could see the mountains now and this made him even more emotional as he remembered his childhood with all his friends and their families. It was a hard life, but they were a good community and helped each other in times of trouble. As he climbed higher and higher the rain turned to snow as he had predicted. It was getting dark now and his visibility was restricted to the yellow pool cast by his lights, all he could see was the whirling snow. It was a good job that he knew these mountains, this was no night to be out on strange roads.
The gears whined as the car ground slowly up the mountain road, he was approaching his village, now he would have to be careful not to take the wrong road at the fork, as the way over the old bridge was much further and would take him at least another half hour. Suddenly out of the snow and mist loomed a shaggy figure, he was standing on the fork waving at Nickolai to take the old road. Peering through the hole in the snow left by the wipers Nickolai could just see that it was Petar Penkov the old village policeman, he could clearly see the vivid red scar on his face which had earned him a nickname by the village boys ‘old fire face’ , Nickolai waved and turned to take the old road. There must be some problem at the new bridge, typical for Petar to be out directing the traffic, he took his duties very seriously. Nickolai remembered what a good policeman he had been, always fair but very stern, and not averse to giving a naughty boy a good clip round the ear if he was caught misbehaving in the village. He remembered the time that some men had come from another village for a name day celebration and drunk too much rakia, they got into a fight in the café and when Petar had tried to stop them he had gone and stood by his side to show the men that Petar was not alone. He probably saved Petar from a beating, but after the men had left Petar just nodded without a word of thanks, and never mentioned the incident again, or showed any favours to Nickolai. He was pleased to see Petar this dark night, the same stern uncompromising look, the same devotion to duty, surely he was due for retirement soon.
It took him much longer by the old route, and by the time he reached his mothers house in the village he was very tired. His mother must have seen the lights as she came running out of the house calling his name.
“I was so worried, there’s been a terrible accident at the new bridge and I was afraid that you would plough into it, in the dark and snow ,and be injured or killed”
“Oh it was no problem, Petar was at the fork directing the traffic.”
“ Petar! ” his mother exclaimed “ no !, he died just a year ago on this very night”
“But I saw his face, the scar, his stern look, he waved to me !!!”
“No, no I’ve just come back from the memorial service at Petar’s grave”
Nickolai stopped in shock, had Petar at last come to say thankyou …………..
© David Clark