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Authors: Lisa Emme

Dead and Kicking

Dead and Kicking
The Harry Russo Diaries, volume 1
by Lisa Emme

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Copyright © 2015 Lisa Emme

All Rights Reserved

epub Edition

ISBN 978-0-9948288-1-1

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No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s wild and crazy imagination or are
used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Visit Lisa at

www.lisaemme.com

To my son, Quinn

You are my greatest creation

This is just a book.

And to my big brother, Scott

For inspiring me with your

Strength and courage

And reminding me that

There's no time to waste.

This is me, throwing off the bowlines.

Chapter One

“Not that one,” Gran said with an exaggerated sigh as I held up one dress and then another. “Not that one either.”
The offending dresses joined the growing pile of rejects on the bed.

“This is ridiculous,” I replied. “This whole thing is ridiculous.” I stomped back to my closet to try
again. I mentally tried on one outfit after another, the hangers zinging back and forth along the rod, as I attempted
to find something that would pass Gran's inspection. “I can’t believe I let you talk me into
this.”

“Don’t get your panties in a
twist. It’s just a coffee date, not an
arranged marriage.”

“It’s not even a date! It’s an ambush.” Zing, zing, zing, the hangers continued to
fly back and forth. Finally my hand fell
on a cute, little sun dress, paired with a sweater to keep away the autumn
chill, and it would do. “That’s it. It’s this one, or I’m not going.”

Gran squinted at the dress, a look of
distaste on her face. “That’s the best
you can do? Why is it that everything you own makes you look like some sort of
hippy school marm?”

“They do not!” I replied, crossing my
arms in front of me. “I have eclectic
taste. That’s all.”

“Eclectic taste? That’s just a fancy-schmancy way to say
weird. If you’re ever going to catch a
man, you have to do a better job of advertising the wares.” Gran’s hands sculpted a much more voluptuous
figure in the air than mine would ever be.
At five foot eight inches with short, dirty blonde hair, I don’t exactly
cut the most lady-like figure. Throw in
the fact I have apples rather than melons (Gran’s words not mine) and my jeans
don’t swish when I walk (“you can see daylight between those gams”) and my
figure is probably better described as ‘boyish’.

“Advertise? Catch a man?
Did you ever think that maybe I don’t want a man in my life right now?
I’m twenty-three, not some old maid you know.”
After pulling the dress on, I gave it a twirl in the mirror, liking the
way the circular skirt swirled out around my knees. “I still can’t believe I let you talk me into
this ridiculous set up. The guy doesn’t
even know me. Even if we do bump into
each other at the coffee shop, what makes you think we’ll hit it off?”

“He doesn’t know you
yet
.
That’s why you need to bump into him.
I mean
really
bump into
him. Spill your coffee on him or
something. Give him a chance to get to
know you. It will make a great story to
tell my great-grandbabies.” Gran was a
big fan of the old movies where the woman and the man would meet in some cutesy
manner and fall head over heels. She was
determined I should have my own ‘meet-cute’.

“Great-grandbabies!? Oh no, that’s it. I’m not
going.” I collapsed on the bed, a hanger
sticking me in the ribs.

“Angharad Grainne Russo, you promised
me you would do it.”

That’s right, my name is
Angharad. It’s the kind of name that makes
people chuckle and say ‘what were your parents
thinking?’ I can’t even blame them since
my mom died bringing me into this world and my dad is a mystery she took to her
grave. No, my mouthful of a moniker is
all Gran’s fault. And, since I know you
are probably wondering, it’s pronounced An-HAR-ad GRAW-nya
ROO…well, I think you can get the rest.
Can you blame me if I prefer to be called Harry?

“Alright,
alright. One week. One week of hanging out at the coffee shop
for one hour a day just to ‘meet cute’ your idea of Mr. Right-for-Me, then
that’s it.”

I grabbed my navy cardigan and headed
out the door. Gran didn’t move fast
enough and I passed through her less than corporeal body. Dead seven years and still
bossing me around. Oh, that’s right, I guess I hadn’t mentioned that part yet. I’m like the kid in that old Bruce Willis
movie. I see dead people.

***

Growing up in a community of witches,
being the kid that sees ghosts, isn’t exactly the strangest thing, but it’s
still considered pretty weird. And
that’s even including Meryl Doncaster whose hair used
to change colour every time she sneezed, at least until she hit puberty and
started to get her gift of camouflage under control.

I was the kid that knew everyone’s
secrets. Ghosts are terrible gossips,
especially ones that know there is a medium in their midst that can pass along
a message. Witches can be real bitches when they die. I didn’t pass along half the things they said to me.
Some things are just better left unsaid.

Gran was a very powerful hedge witch
herself and although there hadn’t been a medium in the community for years, she
did her best to see that I learned how to control my gift. This meant that I had to learn the rituals of
banishment and summons, in that order of course, it wouldn’t do to summon a
spirit and then not be able to get rid of it.
I have never actually summoned a ghost, other than when I first learned
how to do it. Ghosts just sort of find
me.

I’m also pretty good with
plants. I can grow just about anything,
anywhere. That’s why I started up my
little shop, Contain Yourself, here in town, taking my green thumb to the
masses, helping them grow flowers, veggies, and yes, the occasional medicinal
marijuana plant, in eco-friendly containers.
I actually started as an assistant when the shop was still Mrs. Potts’
Flowers, but a year ago Mrs. P decided to slow down and semi-retire, so I
bought the business. I wouldn’t say she
has slowed down much though; she still works in the shop every day. I usually just handle inventory and some of
the deliveries.

Delivering flowers is a great way to
put my strange gift to some use. Lots of
flowers get delivered to funerals and hospitals and where there’s death,
there’s quite often a messed up spirit wondering what the hell happened. More often than not, I just lay down the
4-1-1, point them to the proverbial light and send them on their way. Every so often though, there is something
holding them back, preventing them from making the transition.

Ghosts need energy to manifest. They can do this by siphoning off the excess
energy that surrounds every living thing, including the loved ones they left
behind. Electrical energy can also be
used, which explains why ghosts are much more prevalent now than they were a
hundred years ago. Unfortunately ghosts
are usually drawn to their old lives, haunting their families, drawing the
energy they need to exist from the ones they love, inadvertently harming them. Grief can weigh you down, but not as much as
when a spirit is sucking the life force right out of you. I do what I can to help out. I like to think of it as community
service.

Which reminded me; I had a stop to
make on the way to the coffee shop. With
that in mind, I headed down to the shop to pick up the arrangement of flowers I
had readied earlier in the day.

***

Jubilee ‘just call me Juba’ Daniels
had lived in the same two-bedroom bungalow almost his entire life. The last twenty-five years of which he had
spent with his second wife Millie. Juba
was the cutest, little old man I’d ever met.
Standing about 5’2” on his tip toes, he looked like a little, black
Santa Claus with his big round belly and curly white beard. His beard was a real contrast with his dark,
dark skin. He told me once he came from
Senegal and his skin was so dark because his mother had dipped him in an
inkwell to ward off evil spirits. The
most memorable thing about Juba Daniels though, wasn’t his dark skin or his
white hair, it was his smile. You have
never seen a happier, more genuine smile.
It lit up his entire face from the dimple in his chin to the twinkle in
his eye, and he was always smiling, especially when he talked about his wife
Millie.

Every week like clockwork, Juba came
into the flower shop to pick up a bouquet of cut flowers for ‘his Millie’. Every week until last week that is, when
instead of coming into the shop to buy flowers, he came to ask my help. Of course he was dead by that point, died in
his sleep from a heart attack. Not a bad
way to go I guess, except it was unexpected, like death often is, and he had a
few loose ends he needed tied up.

Juba had a son from his first
marriage, and as Juba put it, he was a real piece of work. Juba had tried to do his best with the boy,
but his first wife had run off with a banker and took the boy with her when he
was only five. After that, Juba and his
son had sporadic contact and eventually the boy grew up and wanted nothing to
do with his father or his father’s new wife.
At least not until the gentrification phenomenon hit the neighbourhood
and property prices started to sky rocket.
Suddenly Neville Daniels, who hadn’t amounted to much (unless being a
meth-head counted), became very interested in his dear old dad and specifically
his dad’s health.

Worried his son might try and cheat
poor Millie out of her estate, Juba had gone to a lawyer and written up a will,
but thinking he still had plenty of time left on this Earth, he hadn’t
mentioned it to Millie. That’s where I
came in, and from the sound of things, I was just in time.

The front door was open when I
arrived at the tidy, little house. From
inside I could hear a man’s raised voice.

“There ain’t
no will old lady, that means I gets half. You pays or you get
out!” The angry voice obviously meant to
intimidate.

“I don’t have that kind of money,”
Millie replied quietly. “I’m sure we can
come to some sort of settlement though.
Your father would have…”

“I don’t give no damn what my father
thought. I want my money. Don’t you go holding out on me.”

I stepped into the house and called
out. “Hello? Mrs. Daniels? Millie? It’s me, Harry.”

“Who are you? What are you doing in here?” Neville came out the kitchen door and into
the living room, a scowl on his face.
Despite being over forty, he was dressed like a teenage 'gangsta' in baggy jeans and an oversized T-shirt. He had accessorized the winning combo with a
big silver chain with a large letter ‘N’ dangling on it. Talk about a stereotype. “Get out of here white bitch.”

“Harry, is that you?” Millie followed Neville out of the kitchen
looking relieved.

I decided to ignore Neville. “It’s me, Millie, and I have something for
you, in honour of Juba.” I held out the
big bouquet of flowers I had put together.
“One last bunch. I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you dear. I should go put them in some water.” Millie took the bouquet and headed back towards
the kitchen.

“I’ll come with you,” I replied. I started to follow Millie, brushing past
Neville.

“Hey bitch. I was talking to you.” He reached out and grabbed my arm. “I told
you get out. I’ve gots
some business here still.”

As soon as his hand touched my arm, I
stopped and reached across with my other hand to grab his thumb, flexing it
back and forcing him to let go.

“Don’t touch me asshole,” I said,
keeping my voice steady and low. I
pulled his thumb back farther until he cried out. He twisted away, trying to free himself but I
just followed his movement until I had his arm behind his back, his thumb
pulled up at a painful angle. “Millie,
maybe you should take the flowers to the kitchen.”

When she was gone, I kicked out
Neville’s shin causing him to fall to his knees. With his arm still twisted behind his back I
leaned in close and quietly said, “Listen closely. You are going to leave this house and not
come back. If I hear that you have been
hassling Millie, I will be back and I will be bringing the police. I’m sure they would be thrilled to speak to a
tweaker like you.”
I pulled on Neville’s arm forcing him back up to his feet and marched
him to the front door where I pushed him out, releasing his thumb with a
painful jerk just to get my message across.
I slammed the door and locked it just as Millie returned with a vase and
the flowers.

“I’m afraid your stepson had to
leave,” I said.

“He’s not going to be happy about
that. I don’t know what I’m going to
do.”

“Don’t worry Millie, Juba made sure
you were taken care of.”

Millie smiled sadly. “My Juba always took good care of me, but he
didn’t leave a will.”

“But he did,” I replied. “He probably just forgot to mention it to
you.” This was the hard part. Getting the information I needed to Millie
without having to say her dead husband told me.
“I remember eight months or so ago he came into the flower shop one day
and he mentioned he had been to the lawyer.
Are you sure he didn’t leave a will somewhere in the house?”

“I don’t think so. He never mentioned it to me.” Millie’s face looked hopeful.

“Where would Juba have hidden
something important? Is there any
special hiding place he might have used?
Did you check there?”

“Well, I….no, I didn’t think to look
because I didn’t know there was anything to find.”

“Maybe we should look around
now? I’ll help.”

After a few false starts, Millie
finally thought to check in the old cigar box on the top shelf in the hall
closet where I knew, thanks to Juba, the will would be. She was so happy she was in tears, especially
when she learned she wouldn’t have to move.
I waited while she called the lawyer on the document and made an
appointment to go see him that very afternoon.
The lawyer even offered to send a car to pick her up so I felt better
when it was time to leave knowing that she was in good hands. The last thing I saw before I headed off to
my coffee ‘date’ was Jubilee Daniels sending me a little salute before he faded
into the light. Not a bad day’s work.

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