My father telephoned on the Tuesday and informed me that he had arranged an appointment for me on the following Monday, with a Harley Street doctor named Foxley. He suggested that Molly and I go to Dulwich Village on the Friday and make it a long weekend. I thanked him and promised him that we would be glad of the break, but secretly I was wishing Molly would not be able to accompany me to London.
I next had to break it to Molly because like me, she would have to arrange to have the Friday and Monday off from work. The first thing she said was, “Why on Friday and Monday, why not just Saturday and Sunday? They won't like it at the office you know!”
“I realized Molly wanted to go as I said, “I have to go to head office on Monday. Therefore, thought that we could make it a long weekend, the folks are very keen on the idea. I think Mum is looking forward to a shopping expedition with you.”
Neither of us had any difficulty getting leave time. I was due for a few days off and Molly had suggested to her boss that she had been considering working part time, and if it was alright with him, this is what she would do, also giving him an assurance that she would be available for full time when tax return time rolled around again. All the way there I noticed Molly kept looking at me in a strange way, and I had to wonder whether she saw me or someone else.
I was comfortably settled in an armchair in doctor Foxley's Harley street office. Richard was laughing as he whispered, “This should be very interesting.” The doctor was seated at his desk with his fingers templed toward his chin. 'Your father has given me a brief outline of your problem, but before we get talking about the park matter. I would like you to tell me everything you can about your early childhood; you know, things that you liked doing and things that you disliked'?
I went into great detail about my home life, and that it had never been anything but happy. My parents had encouraged me to develop whatever; I showed an interest in doing. There was never any pressure to take a profession that did not interest me.
“Do you remember having dreams good or bad?”
“I have always dreamt but in the past I could not remember any dream once I was awake.”
“Did you ever ask anyone at the park what activities if any went on behind the wall?”
“I did ask on more than occasion, and was assured that there was nothing of interest to the park visitor behind the wall or door; and yet, I sensed something frightening.”
“When you attended school, did you enjoy history?”
“Yes, it was one of my favourite subjects. Our Mr. Prince, the history master, was the best teacher in the school as far as I was concerned.”
“It would appear you made a lasting friendship with a boy named Richard, an Earl’s son, no less!”
“I was a bit if a loner until I met and formed a lasting friendship with Richard. I stopped talking because I could hear Richard, ‘Tell the old fool we are bonded by blood for ever.’
I tried ignoring him and continued, “We went everywhere together; his problems were my problems and versa visa. We both had an interest in girls, in fact, we both liked the same girl from Cillian House, but we only met in the school room during lesson time. Beyond this, setting up a date with a girl was impossible because if the strict rules of both houses. Richard died some time ago, and I suppose my problems started from the day of his death because I am sure he is now living within me!”
Doctor Foxley looked at me for sometime before he said, “Do you not consider what you have just told me to be an illusion, a figment of your imagination. Perhaps brought about because of the blood brother relationship with Richard while he was alive?”
“Naturally, I have given considerable thought to the possibility of my imagining Richard to be part of me, but then I remember all too vividly his words to me just before he died. I know he was the reason why I passed through a solid oak door that has not been opened for at least three hundred years or more, and I am conscious of his presence.”
“Perhaps you should give what you have just stated, some thought, because it is not physically possible for anyone to pass through a closed door.”
“I agree with you Sir, but is it not possible I passed through the closed door with my spirit leaving my body, and I, being transported through?”
“What you are telling me Roger, is beyond my learning; therefore, with your permission, I would like to discuss your case with a friend, a professor at London University, who is considered an expert in the field of the occult, parapsychology. I do not believe you to be mentally unbalanced, but you do have some sort of problem, and his insight could help to solve it.”
“I agree to what you suggest and look forward to meeting this professor.
“I would like to see you again in two-week time, and in the meantime I would suggest that you avoid going to the park for a while!”
I found my father alone when I returned to Dulwich Village. Molly and my mother were still out buying all manners of things.
“Well Dad, the doctor said he did not think I was mentally unbalanced, but I don't know what to think; these shrinks l never say a great deal, they keep on writing and looking at you and give you no real idea about what they are thinking; but he did say that he would discuss the dreams and the incident at the gate with a friend who lectures at London University.”
“That's something Roger; at least he suspects that it could be something to do with the paranormal or whatever, they call it?” When Molly and my mother arrived home they came in loaded with parcels, smiles all over their faces and the exclamation. “Wait until you see what we bought!”
On the way home the following morning Molly said, “When are you going to take me to the head office, I would like to meet some of the people that I have heard you mention from there.”
Remembering that I had another appointment with Doctor Foxley in a couple of week’s time, I said. “I have to make a flying trip to head office shortly I should only be away for a few hours; I will make arrangements then.”
I became deeply engrossed with my work for there were always inclusions and exclusions to various jet engines that we were developing. I was also deeply worried about my life, particularly my married life. Molly had heard me talking to Richard, and of course she could not see him, but then neither could I, but I was convinced he was part of my psyche.
Molly informed me she had been visiting real estate agents and had looked at an attractive house on Maple Street, which according to her would be ideal for us. It was a semi-detached house with three bedrooms. Molly had had enough apartment living, she wanted a garden, and she wanted children. I, on the other hand, had the fear that if we had a child it would look just like Richard because I now firmly believed my seed would be infected in some way by his spirit. This was also one of the reasons I made excuses when Molly wished for us to make love. “I am too tired, or I am unwell, or I have to get up very early in the morning. I knew this was causing Molly to be angry as she accused me of marrying her when I did not love her. I could not tell her that not being able to make love to her was making me angry as well because it was like I had Richard conjoined to me in some invisible way.
Molly stood with her hands on her hips. “Why did you ask me to marry you Roger, you are not in the least demonstrative, you even appear scared to hug me, let alone kiss me. You are missing for hours, and I feel in my heart you are pushing me away. Then there is your insistent demand that I now call you Richard. Why Richard when you are Roger? Sometimes I wake up during the night, and you are not in the bed. I call you and get no answer, you no longer make sense.”
I was at a loss to know how to reply to her accusations but instead of telling her the truth I decided to wait until after my next meeting with Doctor Foxley. “I do love you Molly, I do want us to have children, but due to the intense type of work I am involved with, I find I am too tired, in fact, worn out when I get home and the change of name is just a phase. I was very fond of my school friend Richard, and I feel by adapting his name, I am closer to his memory!”
“The things you are telling me sound bizarre and do not have a ring of truth. I am willing to give our marriage another try, but Roger, you have to change, and I mean to drastically change. You had better forget your late friend Richard!” “Richard screamed in my ear, ‘the little bitch, how dare, she!’
Things were no different the next day when I left the house. I did not go to work because Richard was persistently insisting he wanted to go home to Bletstone House in Warwick.
As I passed through Stratford-upon-Avon, I spotted a car following me with flashing blue lights. Puzzled, I pulled my car over and stopped. A policeman came to the window. “Well sir, did you think you were driving at the Brands Hatch race course?”
“I am sorry officer, I was not aware that I was speeding!”
“I clocked you doing 50 miles an hour through a 30 mile an hour area.”
“I was, well bless me, I had no idea. I am on my way home to Bletstone House.”
“What is your name sir?”
“Viscount Richard Bullen.” The policeman was familiar with the noble name of Bullen but obviously not aware Richard had died. He straightened up. I will not report the offence on this occasion Sir, but please try to moderate your driving in the future."
I had no means of proving I was Richard Bullen and was astounded as I realized he had not asked to see a driver license. I promised him that I would most certainly be careful in the future and thanked him. He saluted and returned to his car.
I also knew the words that had come out of my mouth sounded like Richard, and I knew that I now looked like him.
I pressed the bell at the front door of Bletstone House. The door was opened by Barns, one of the footmen. When he saw me his face blanched, and he had to clasp the door. “Oh my, oh dear me it is Master Richard…I mean, but you can’t be, we, that is the staff, went to your funeral. Of course you appear to have changed somewhat. Forgive me Sir, I will have to inform Mr. Garnet the butler, and he will then take you to milord and milady. I fear the sight of you will greatly shock them.
Of course it was not my intention to bring distress; I was Richard in all respects except reality. I hesitated before following Barnet and looked in the hall mirror. I could not visualize my looking exactly like Richard, but sure enough, I really did look like him, and I knew I sounded like him. Had Richard managed a complete transition, and if he had, was it to be only while I was at Bletstone House? It would appear Richard had now taken over completely.
As soon as I entered the drawing room Countess Bullen stood up. Although she could not see me because of her blindness, the mention of the name Richard, the colour drained from her face and her hands were shaking. “I offer greetings to you Papa and Mama. Earl Bullen had been reading the newspaper; he let it fall to the floor as he jumped up. “What by the name of God are you up to; you are not my son Richard. You may look like him and talk like him but Richard is dead and buried.”
I had tears in my eyes as I saw the earl bunch his fists. I felt sure he was going to strike me. However, instead he made for the bell rope. “I’ll get Garnet to telephone the police.”
I cast an imploring look at Lady Maud. She was not as hasty as his lordship. I think she realized my voice reminded her of Richard. “I think we should hear what this young man has to say before you summon the police my dear!”
I hoped Richard would not desert me. I did not wish to be on my own. “I did not come here today to bring you pain and distress my Lord, I beg you recall Roger and I, formed a good friendship. During this friendship while at school, we nicked our wrists and placed them together and formed what we considered a blood bond. We agreed to keep the bond secret and this, we did. Neither of us thought too much about it from that day on. It was not until he was summoned to the hospital bedside and held my hand prior to my demise. It was at that moment, the significance of that blood bond became reality. When I passed away, I was still holding his hand and at that moment I knew I had taken over Roger entirely. It was not until you spoke, Mama, that I realized I had made the transition. You will recall you asked him what I had said to him. My words were rather muffled, but I now know I told him that I would carry on through him!”
The Countess looked troubled. “I clearly remember Roger telling me that your last words were of love and affection for his, me and your father.”
“I told you that because I hoped it would bring a little peace of mind to both of you.”
The earl looked very angry. “You are disgusting; you took it into your head to play the part of your dead friend in an attempt to win your way into my family.”
“No my lord, I speak the truth when I say that I may be dead, but my spirit lives on through Roger. I direct his movements and I have left the worst unto the last, I make myself present when he is with his wife. I have never had the courage to tell her why I act in odd off hand ways in our bed. I am sorry to say that I have tormented him by saying, Go on make love to your wife, and if she becomes pregnant, you will always ask yourself, is the baby mine or yours?”
“By Jove, you should be locked up. I have never heard so much cock and bull in all my life and I will see that you are locked away in an insane asylum!”
“Roger has been to see a Harley Street specialist, and he is consulting a London university professor of parapsychology and the occult. He is supposed to visit him again tomorrow. “I am my lord, as perplexed as your good self. It is possible because what I have done I should be locked away. This strange affair is also now causing me considerable distress.”
Countess Maud sat with a lace handkerchief in her hand, and she kept twisting and knotting it. She looked in the direction of her husband and tearfully said, “Francis, I cannot help it, I believe the boy. I recall the times when Richard was younger and he and I would be alone, and he would try teasing me by saying, “Mama, if you die and leave me, I will haunt you, I mean it Mama, and if I should die, I will try to reach you from the grave.”
Earl Francis Bullen put his arm around his wife’s shoulder, “You surely do not believe the past meanderings of a child m’dear?”
“I do, I really do. I feel he is trying to reach us through Roger; after all, he was his closest friend. It is possible he was trying to convey some sort of message to Roger just before he died. Perhaps it was not the words he uttered, but the contact he made as he held Roger’s hands? Roger has already told us he experienced a sort out of body experience as Richard passed from our world.”
While the Countess was speaking, Richard had the strange feeling; he was a Doctor Jeckle and Mr. Hyde as he felt the change sweep over him. When he next spoke he knew that he was still Richard, and he again spoke with the voice of Richard. “You have hit the nail right on the head, I did utter those words to you didn’t I?”
The Earl looked at Roger in amazement. It was true the man before him did sound like Richard; he now actually looked like him. The facial features were the same, and the poise. Countess Maud noted the complete change of voice and collapsed in a chair. “The evidence is before us in his voice, and yet it is difficult to believe!”
The earl looked angry. “It will be easy to prove whether he is a fraud m‘dear, and if he is, my God, I will see that the hand of the law puts him away for a long time!”
“Ask whatever questions you like Papa!”
“Do not address me as such until you can prove to us that such a phonemes transmutation has taken place. Now tell me the names of your two great, great grandfathers’?”
“Poosh that is easy Sir, Your grand papa’s name was Lord Hector, Bruce Bullen. He was born in Kinlochleven, Scotland. Mama’s grand papa’s name was Sir, Frederick Reginald, Bartlett. He was born at Elmley Castle in The Cotswold’s.”
Lady Maud looked as surprised at the earl. “You have to admit the boy is correct Francis.”
“Bosh! How do we know that Dickie did not relate all of our family history to him?”
Countess Maud said, “There is one certain way to find the truth. When Richard was five years old, he and I had a little secret which he would whisper in my ear when I went into the nursery to say goodnight to him. Do you remember our little secret Richard?”
“Of course I remember Mama. I used to whisper I love you mama and when I am all growd up I want to marry you. And your reply was always. “I love you also my son, but you can never marry your mama.”
“There you heard him Francis. That was our little secret, he loved his mama so much, he wanted to marry me when he was five years old, He used to whisper it in my ear so that his nanny could not hear, and I never told you, because he and I thought of it as our secret.”
Richard had taken over my body. Only he could have answered his mother’s questions. I had never sought extensive knowledge about his family. It was he who now faced his father and mother, as far as he was concerned, I no longer existed.
“Papa, I realize the difficulty I have raised by my use of a living being as my spiritual conveyance, I never realized the significance of the blood bond during my school years. However, here I stand before you, I have used it as a way back to you and Mama, I have no intention of leaving Roger’s body, and he was after all, a very willing recipient to the blood bond.
There was still a limited part of my mind as Roger, that gave me a glimpse into who I was or should be, but I soon realized I had no control over my movements or actions. I could no longer reconcile the important fact that I had a wife and an important position as an aerospace engineer. My only chance of escape from Richards hold on my body was if his parents rejected him as their resurrected son and heir.
The earl stood up. Took a good look at me, and then poured some brandy into his glass. He did not offer me a drink, but returned to his arm chair. “There’s no damn way to explain who, or I should say, what I see before me!”
“My dear, you see our Richard!” the countess patted the cushion and beckoned me to go and sit by her side on the settee.
I did not hesitate, I was Richard and anxious to be welcomed back.
“Come dear boy, I may not understand what has happened, or for that matter, how we will explain your being here, knowing all of our friends attended your funeral. I only know it is a miracle to have you here. I will no longer require the doctor to give me tranquilizing pills to comfort me!”
The Countess put her arm around my shoulders and hugged me. “Francis, I know you have worried about the state of my mind since the accident, but I will be alright now my dear.”
The Earl had been worried about his lady wife’s mental health since the death of Richard. She had become withdrawn. She had wept daily and she had only pecked at her food. All invitations from caring friends had been refused. He looked at her now. The colour had returned to her cheeks, she was once again vibrant, and he did not have the heart to burst her bubble of happiness even though he was having difficulty accepting what he could only think of as an apparition, and I was the apparition in living flesh