My thanks go to the numerous people from all around the world who have attempted to assist me in preparing this story for posting.
Colloquial clarification: 'Gander' and 'Shufti' are both euphemisms for 'look'
There are times that you know, right from the start, that something's going on, and it ain't quite kosher! Like I did that night when I awoke at some unearthly hour and instantly became aware that standing beside the foot of my bed was an apparition ... To-whit, one patently beautiful and very naked female!
In fact I could only just make out her form; but I could see enough to recognise that she was completely naked, and that her figure went in and out in all the right places!
Unfortunately, that gave me just enough information to instantly work out exactly who the woman was, as well.
The fact that I'd married the lady in question some six years previously might make you just a little curious as to why I would be so surprised by her presence. Or you're maybe wondering why I was more than slightly perturbed to find her standing there ... totally naked bedside my bed!
Well the point is, after the first few days, our marriage could not have been described as a good one, and it hadn't lasted very long - roughly eighteen months (before all the shouting was over) to be precise!
Yeah well, we can't all get it right the first time, can we? It seemed to me, that shortly after our nuptials June had turned into a right ... no, lets leave that for the present, you'll get the idea as we get further along, I'm sure!
Anyway, June always claimed that it was me who had turned into a miserable old git! And to be honest, she was possibly quite correct there. But, when just a few days after you've taken your vows, you learn that you've been kept in the dark ... no, not just yet!
Where was I? Oh yeah!
After carefully studying the vision for a short while – as best I could, considering the lack of ambient illumination -- I convinced myself that I just had to be dreaming. So, trying to ignore the apparition ... not a simple task when it's an incarnation of June's naked form standing before you, imaginary or otherwise!
Bugger, for a short while there, I had even been tempted to turn the bloody bedside light on; so that I could get a better gander!
But I also figured, that turning that light on would probably wake me from my dream world anyway. Consequently I discounted the idea, and then -- after getting a right-good-eyeful, as best I could -- I turned over and tried to ... Well, I'm not quite sure exactly what I thought I was attempting to do really; pretend that June was not in my dream world anymore, I suppose! And, maybe at-tempt to convince that dream world to take me somewhere that I would find a little more relaxing.
"Well, that's bloody nice! I come to visit my loving husband for the first time in God knows how many years, and he turns his back on me!" June's dulcet tones suddenly filled the void of silence.
If I had been asleep then that would surely have woken me. Hence my confusion for the next few minutes; I wasn't sure if I was awake or not. The actual fact of June's apparent presence, was doing it's best to convince me that I had to be dreaming.
"You're not here June! I'm dreaming; go away!" I mumbled.
"Oh, have nice dreams about me all the time, do you? That is flattering!" That all too well remembered voice, replied.
"No I don't, June! Dreams about you come under the heading "recurring nightmares!" Now go away. Get off my bloody cloud, will you?" I found myself replying quite forcefully.
"Ooh, is my lover-boy still a little rattled with me? Come on lover, I'd have thought you'd have got over all that by now!"
"June ... Jesus, what am I doing, talking to a sodding dream ... a fantasy? Nothing but an illusion conjured up by my tortured unconscious mind. I must be going completely bleeding nut's!"
"Hey, I'm no fantasy, lover. Although I might be an illusion! You know, I don't understand how any of this works! Turn the light on and you'll see that I won't disappear. Or at least, I don't think I will!"
The apparition ... June, didn't sound too sure of herself either.
"You know, they were a bit vague about how all this was going to work! Kept me there for God knows how long explaining everything, but it all came at me so fast that it's hard to remember. And well, they were pretty vague about just about everything really. When it comes down to it, they just told me that you are my best bet. You know, I'm not really supposed to be here anyway, Peter; but they've bent the rules a little, just for little ol' me!"
"What the hell are you babbling on about... ? Jesus, you are here, and looking even better than I remember if anything. Anyway, as I was saying, just what the hell are you babbling on about. June, and why are you here? Come to that, how did you get in here, for a start?" I demanded.
Kind-a loosing my decorum slightly; I'd got frustrated, sat up in bed and switched on the light. That light had suddenly allowed to me get a far better shufti at June's ... er, physical attributes and that had caused me to ... well, drop in a couple of, involuntary, reactionary type ... exclamations, that I hadn't intended to say.
June gave me that wonderful smile of hers, and then she did a little catwalk twirl. Damn that figure of hers, and damn that ruddy enchanting smile of hers as well! That sodding smile had captured my heart the first time she'd thrown it my way in the university library.
And -- along with June's other -- all too obvious -- physical attributes, -- it had kept me on a pretty tight-leash right up until the day they'd dropped the bomb on me; five days after our wedding.
From that day forwards we drifted apart; our arguments always centring around ... well money. And you might find it surprising when I say, not the lack of it!
I suppose I'd better explain. When I'd met June at Uni, she was just another student struggling to pay her way through college like almost everyone else; or so I and everyone else thought. June even had a part time job back then, and never appeared to be rolling in the readies. Consequently I had not the slightest idea that she came from a much more affluent family background than I.
In fact – I discovered later -- June's parents weren't exactly well-off themselves; but her grandfather had been bleeding loaded!
Her grandparents had disowned June's mother when she'd insisted on marrying a man they did not approve of. June's grandparents were of the opinion that June's father had been after the family assets or something along those lines. So they'd disowned her; effectively excluding June's mother from the family, and access to the family fortune.
When June and I had met -- and while we were courting -- I had not been informed that June's grandfather had bequeathed all of his worldly worth to his only grandchild, nor that that grandchild was June. Neither had I been informed that – since her grandfather had toddled-off to meet his maker, some years previously -- June would inherit his private empire on her thirtieth birth-day, or ... on the solemnisation of her marriage; whichever came first!
What came first was our bleeding wedding of course, and that inheritance brought with it the demise of a once beautiful relationship.
Now one might think, "What's this dumb-arse complaining about? After all, he married a real looker, who had a bleeding fortune tucked away in the bank!"
Hey, I had no objection to all that cash. Although I had never figured that the "kept man" title would ever used to describe me!
No, what got up my nose, was all the ... well, brown-nosing -- I suppose you could all it -- that went along with all that wealth.
Cocktail and dinner parties, formal receptions and things ... and all the ruddy charity functions June was expected to attend.
I'm not the formal dress type at the best of times; I never have been! And my inherent frankness, somewhat down-to-earth -- colloquial and all to often, very basic – language, raised quite a few eyebrows at those functions.
I can't say my politics fitted in very well with that crowd either! I'm not a follower of any particular political doctrine. I suppose, if anything, I lean to the left! But I've always held strong views about the untrustworthiness of close cosy relationships some ... no sod-it, most, politicians (left, right or bleeding centre) have with those 'Types' in the City.
And then suddenly there I was, married to someone who suddenly became, one of those 'Types!"
And then there all those miscellaneous people from all over the shop (June's financial empire) who were in the habit of turning up at all times of day and night, with papers for June to read and sign, or to have 'business conferences' with her.
That was the first I knew about my wife's windfall, by the way; when some stuffed-shirt tosser turned up at the door of our honeymoon suite with oodles of paperwork for June to read through and sign; less than halfway through our ruddy honeymoon!
There we were – at eight that morning -- doing what honeymooners traditionally do; when there's a knock at the bedroom door.
Yeah well, when I crawled out of bed, I had thought that it was our breakfast arriving!
And then I made the mistake of letting the officious flunky into the room, when he explained that he needed to see June on a matter of great importance.
And that was (effectively) the last I saw (knew, in the biblical sense) of my new wife, until well after eight that evening. That same evening saw the beginning of the end of our marriage.
Oh, I never recognised it at the time. I was just as shocked and enthusiastic about June's good fortune as she was!
But then -- everyday for the rest of our honeymoon -- some character or other would turn-up wanting to see June (alone) for a while.
We'd no sooner returned home to our nice little house in rural Bedfordshire, when June's presence was required at the offices in the City; or at some function up in London, anyway. I went along with her that first time, and we stayed-over that night in what had been her grandfather's penthouse flat in the City.
The next day I had to return to our new little house. Because of-course, I had my own job to go to. June had more meetings on that day and eventually stayed-over at -- what was to rapidly become – 'her City flat', that second evening; returning to Bedfordshire the following day.
I should add, that I don't really believe that June was fully aware of the extent of her grandfather's legacy at that time. She's always claimed – and I did believe her – that she'd thought that our wedding would herald the release of a ten, maybe twenty or even thirty thousand pound windfall.
June told me that she had planned that it would be a nice surprise for me when we got back from our honeymoon. She'd thought her inheritance would possibly finance a new car and help to lower our mortgage a little.
When she'd learnt the full extent of her grandfather's holdings, it had genuinely shaken her. That was patently clear to me the first day she learned of its true extent, on our honeymoon. Although she hadn't foreseen the implications it might hold
Where the problem for us really came in was, that at university June had taken business studies, and from the instant she did fully understand what her inheritance included; June became fascinated by it all.
It was a fact, that June's grandfather had had little direct contact with the companies he controlled for some years preceding his demise. Knowing that his health had been failing the old boy had placed overall control and the day-to-day running of his assets into the hands of people he trusted. Those same guys had run everything until June fulfilled the requirements of the old bugger's will.
Theoretically those guys could have gone on running the show. But as I said, June was fascinated by the whole damn kit-an'-caboodle.
And to make maters worse, those same people who had been running the show; liked the idea of having a beautiful figurehead to publicise all the good works for which the organisation was responsible.
They saw June as someone who'd definitely catch the press (and society photographer's) attention at all those charity do's and the like.
I really do not believe that those guys were expecting someone with anything like as much business savvy, as June turned out to have. Nor had they expected her to want to know chapter and verse of just about everything that went on within the extended organisation.
They had wanted (and expected) a nice innocent, little fluffy kitten, which they could bend to their wishes. And they found themselves lumbered with an inquisitive killer lion. Who had a heart of iron, and once she'd got her feet under the table, someone who took no prisoners amongst any of them!
In consequence our marriage began to fall apart very rapidly. June always wanted to be in the thick of things, so that she could keep up with developments throughout the whole organisation.
And, I had my nice little number out in the sticks. Not exactly my dream job, but near enough. As a student of archaeology, a position with a private museum weren't the best. But they encouraged me to get involved with archaeology digs and investigations locally, and it would do me until I found something more fulfilling.
I'm sure you can imagine how it went, Monday through Thursday -- and very often Friday night as well -- June stayed-over in the City flat. Well, most evenings she was one of the last to leave the offices. She was also -- very often I'm told -- one of the first of the top floor incumbents to arrive there as well. There just weren't enough hours in the day, for June to travel out to Bedfordshire every night. Consequently our relationship developed into a kind of weekend marriage.
At the beginning, we both made a conscious effort to keep things going. If June didn't come home on the Friday evening (Saturdays all-too-often as well), because there was some function or the other that she had to attend; then I would travel up to town to go with her.
But as I've already mentioned, those formal do's (almost all of them tended to be of that type) and me ... well, we just didn't mix very well! I wasn't a great hit at any of the dinner parties June was invited to either. Basically because I'm a little too outspoken about my views on ... just about anything really. I'm a spade is a spade, type person and there's no two ways about it!
Even when I was at school 'diplomat' could never have been included in a list of my possible career choices!
Although a royalist, I hold a rather dim view of most of the idiots who habitually frequent the Houses of Lords and Commons, and the vast majority of the folks who work in (or rather control) the City of London. Or, in general, most people who consider themselves to be part of the upper (or ruling) class.
I can't say that many of the modern (so called) celebrities impress me much, either! You know, film and pop stars, or -- it seems -- any idiot who can get their face on the bloody TV or in the newspapers nowadays.
Yeah. I do mean 'idiot's', most of them. The depths some people sink to, to get their picture into the newspapers or on TV, really does amaze me!
The fact, that my new wife was considered part of the establishment -- by that time -- and rapidly became a celebrity as far as the press and media were concerned; didn't help smooth the waters of our rapidly deteriorating relationship either.
And I'll happily admit to telling more than one hopeful reporter to "Eff-off!" when they approached me asking for an interview. They probably really wanted an interview with June, but she had her publicity advisors gathered close around her by then; so only approved reporters got with a hundred yards of her.
Now can't say that June didn't try to make it work, I have to admit that! But with hindsight, the only thing she really could have done – to save our relationship – was to have left those tossers' running her grandfather's empire in the first place. But June was completely distracted by what she perceived as her new responsibilities!
When it became obvious that things were going down hill (rapidly), June tried to organise a job for me inside -- what was by then -- her empire. I was offered the position of historical and archaeological consultant to the whole damned organisation. On not a bad little screw, I might add!
I even went up to the city and looked over the bleeding great office that would be my domain. However, I couldn't discover from any one what my duties would actually involve. It soon became clear to me, that no one in the place knew what I would be supposed to do, either.
It was pretty obvious, that June had instructed someone to find me a job that would require me to move up to and live in the City with her full time. And her minions had promptly invented one that they thought would fit my talents. Well, a job title anyway, I doubt that any of those tossers had any idea what the job was supposed to involve.
June's plan of course had been to get me living with her in the London flat. Which by the way was several times larger than our little 1930's house out in the wilds of Bedfordshire. However much to my wife's disappointment, I told her that the job would not be suitable.
No, I didn't tell June to stuff-it! You might not believe it, but I was still hoping that our marriage would survive. But my turning the position down, did not exactly do much to enhance our rapidly faltering relationship.
Regretfully power (and money, or rather the excess of it) corrupts the mind, and June had suddenly found an excess of both dropped into her lap. What with trying to understand every pie that her newfound empire had its fingers into, and reining-in those guys that had been pulling all the strings for the previous few years. June didn't really have the time to ... placate a sulking husband.
Yeah, I'll admit it; I was sulking! Through a complete freak of nature, I'd captured the heart of the most beautiful creature in the world, and made her my wife! But then, her grandfather's empire had snuck up and snatched her away from me!
Nine months later, we weren't on speaking terms and the gossip columns were openly predicting an imminent divorce.
Some of them had the audacity to say, that unnamed sources close to June were suggesting that I'd only married June because of her impending inheritance.
As I've said, eighteen months after our wedding ceremony, it was all done and dusted! And -- until that unexpected materialisation in my bedroom -- I'd seen nothing of June (in person) since.
I had heard about her of course, on the TV, radio and in the newspapers. From the media reports I soon learnt that there were a whole collection of would-be suitors lining up to take my place. Film stars, millionaire businessmen, and even a few Peers of the Realm! Or Right Honourable -- soon to be -- Peers of the Realm anyway. Toffee nosed tossers, looking for some mug to finance their ancestral pile!
Oh, June picked one of them, eventually; the wedding was all over the media. But -- that night -- I couldn't have told you his name. It had been upsetting enough seeing June on TV, cavorting around on red carpets on the arm of some slimy git or the other. Once I heard the word wedding mentioned, I went out of my way ... well, not to listen or watch anymore when her name was mentioned.
So that was roughly the situation that morning, when June suddenly appeared in my bedroom. Well it was still the middle of the night to be precise.
"I'm not babbling lover; I'm trying to explain the unexplainable to you!" June replied.
"How did you get in here June and why aren't you wearing any clothes?" I demanded.
"Ah well, the no clothes bit was supposed to ... well, beguile you. You never could resist..."
"Yeah, yeah, I know, the little brain used to do all the thinking, June!"
"I thought he was a nice little brain, I've never found one better anyway!"
"June, I'd prefer not to discuss any of your sexual adventures, if you don't mind. Now please tell me, how did you get into my house? You can't have a key, I changed all the locks after I found that tart from your office, wandering around the place."
"She isn't a tart, Peter. She is ... was my personal assistant and she was collecting some of my belongings for me!"
"She was trespassing June! We were legally separated by that time and you'd moved into the London flat fulltime. If you required anything from the house, then you should have arranged collection of it through our legal representatives; you knew that! And by the way, you're trespassing now; so will you please explain just how you got in here?"
"I sort-of materialised, Peter!" June replied, with a very strange expression on her face.
It was like she didn't really believe what she was telling me, herself.
"You simply materialised ... here, in my bedroom ... naked ... in the middle of the night? Pull the other one, June!"
"Ah now, you see, Peter, it's true! I did just ... well, materialise. I knew this was going to be more difficult than they told me it would be!"
"Who said it would be? Are you sure quite that you're alright, June? I can call you a doctor, if you'd like!"
"Oh Christ, Peter, I'm fine. But I'm not fine, if you understand me! Look, Peter, I'm dead, and I am not dead at the same time. Or would it make more sense to you, if I said that I'm dead but June is alive right now. But I won't be alive in seven days time!"
"No, I wouldn't understand! But it does go a long way towards convincing me that you are need of a good doctor, June! Preferably a psychologist, I would suggest ... A.S.A.P!"
"Okay, you've a right to be sceptical; but you watch this; if I can get it to work! This isn't easy you know, and they were a little on the brief side, when it came to explaining everything!"
"They were the ... well, the whatever-they-are's, who run that place!"
"What place are you talking about, June?"
"Oh bugger, Peter; you just watch this?"
Then she screwed up her face and instantly June was standing before me, dressed in a tiny bra and a thong.
"Not quite what I was hoping for! She said looking down at her newly materialised apparel.
The she screwed up her face again.
So suddenly, that I really didn't perceive it happening, June was dressed in what looked like an expensive black designer cocktail dress. Somewhat like that little black number, one always hears folks referring to.
"No, not really what I was after, either. I really need something that you'll appreciate, Peter!"
June screwed up her face for a third time and instantly she was standing before me wearing a pair of skin-tight jeans and a white blouse; not buttoned, but with the tails tied together bellow her breasts.
"Ah now, that's just the biscuit. Mind you, these jeans are so damned tight, I'm not sure I can even move in the things. There'd be no slipping these buggers off, in the back of the car, Peter!"
Through the whole of the clothes changing ... pantomime, -- well, what would you call it? -- I'd sat there in my bed unable to speak; totally mesmerised.
"I, er!" Was about the some total of my words, for the next five minutes or so.
But eventually I managed to fumble out, "How did you do that?"
"I don't really know, lover; it seems that everyone can do it when they are dead!"
"But if you're dead ... Well, why are you here. June? What happened anyway; how did you come to be dead, in the first place?"
"Well Peter, if I knew that, I probably wouldn't be dead, would I? I'd have done something to stop myself becoming dead. So I suppose that I wouldn't be here, anyway. But, I'm not ... well, June isn't dead, in fact. Not yet anyway!"
"But you are June!"
"No, Peter, I'm June from next week sometime. Or maybe it would make more sense to you if I explained that I'm the dead June from next week, who shouldn't be dead and I've come back in time to ask you for your help in not becoming dead, in the first place!"
"This is all sounding a bit too much like a plot for a corny Hollywood movie to me, June!"
"Yeah, don't tell me; my thought's exactly. But please let me explain, lover?"
"What's with the lover, bit anyway?"
"Well that's how I've always remembered you, lover. And what we always used to call each other before..."
"Lets not go there, June; all that was over and done with, a long time ago! Now, you were going to explain?"
"Ah, yes, well. It's like this. Last Saturday night I was sitting at home with Frank..."
"My husband, lover! I got married again; didn't you know?"
"Yeah, I think I heard; but I had no idea which mug you picked. There were so many of the buggers according to the media. Eventually, I stopped taking any notice."
"Well, that was a complete waste of time and effort then!"
Don't worry lover, but I was trying to make someone ... Anyway, as you say that's all done and gone now. Anyway one minute I'm sitting down to dinner with Fra ... my husband, and the next thing I recall, I'm standing in a gigantic queue of people. Honestly it was worse than passport control at New York."
"I've never been to New York, June!"
"Don't bother, I'm not sure it's even worth all the hassle. Anyway, for some reason I know that I've got to wait my turn in the queue and eventually I arrive at one of the desks. There was this officious looking ... well, I'm not quite sure what he was, but I'll call him a man for the minute. Anyway, he taps my name into a computer and then frowns at me.
"I'd watched him deal with the people in front of me, and usually after typing their names into that computer, he'd give them a little coloured card, then send them on through one of the many doorways in the wall behind him.
"But when he typed my name into his terminal, he just sat there staring between the screen and me, with a really big frown on his face. Then he said 'There's been some sort of mistake young woman; you should not be here, yet!' So I asked him where 'here' was, and why was I 'there' anyway?
"But before he/she or whatever-it-was could answer, another one appears, introduces itself as my guide ... No name, he ... it just said 'I'm your guide, June!' and then he asks me to follow him ... it.
"He led the way through a door into a great big room ... Like a massive library, where all the walls were lined with shelves all the way up as far as you could see. Those shelves were stacked with thousands and thousands of dusty old ledgers.
"The guide whatever, takes me to another ... whatever."
"June, either they were men or they were women; they must have been one or the other!"
"You wouldn't be saying that if you'd met any of them yourself, Peter; I can assure you of that! They were dressed like ... Oh, I don't know, ancient Greeks or even Romans; in sort-of frock things ... you know, like that get-up Demis Roussos bloke used to wear on stage."
"Never mind, Peter! Anyway, they all had long wavy hair and talked in tones that left you wondering what gender they possibly could be."
"So they could have been either?"
"Or neither. I don't know, but I got the idea that they were neither one nor the other."
"Perhaps they were both? That would sure put an end to all this marriage lark, wouldn't it?"
"I'm pretty sure that they aren't of this world anyway, Peter!"
"Aliens or Angels?"
"Well I never saw any wings or ... You bugger; you're taking the rise out of me, aren't you?"
"June, Aliens, spirits, ghosts or whatever you like to call them. Yeah I can accept that there might be something in them. But Aliens I somehow doubt. But where the other lot comes in ... Well, you know that I'm an agnostic. A particularly sceptical agnostic, at that!"
"Well, I'm not. I've just been there, wherever it was, and those whatever they are, were there alright. Anyway this ... whatever, he looks in one of these great big ledgers, and then he tells me that I'm dead, but that I shouldn't be! Then he's sends yet another one of them off to find out what's going on.
"That whatever eventually comes back and tells the first whatever, and my guide that, not only am I dead; but my body is in no condition for me to be returned to it. Which I believe, must have been their first intention. That made me a might perturbed, I can tell you!
"Then the first whatever, told me it that now and again things happen in the world, that don't fit into the great scheme of things. It sounded to me like he was talking about a master plan, of some sorts. Anyway, he told me that according to the great ledger, I was not supposed to die for many years. He wouldn't tell me exactly how long I was supposed to have lived for; I did ask!
"But then he went on to say that it would appear that I had died and most likely, in someone else's place. In other words, someone else was supposed to have died instead of me! I got a little irate about that..."