Feature

STRANGE IMPOSTORS

In August 1982, Frank Johnson, a widowed Huyton businessman, was drinking in the Stanley Arms pub on Roby Road one Saturday afternoon, and he felt so down in the dumps. 

He sat there, gazing into the slowly vanishing froth of his newly-pulled pint as he thought of his late wife Marguerite. 

It was coming up to that awful anniversary of her death; three years ago she had been having an affair with Frank’s closest friend Roy, when the car they were in skidded in a downpour one night and crashed, killing the two of them. 

Marguerite had walked out on him without a word of explanation a week before, and he’d had the job of identifying her body. 

He hadn’t dated anyone since then because he had a habit of comparing every woman to Marguerite; she’d been beautiful and intelligent and Frank believed he’d never meet anyone like her again.

Someone patted Frank’s shaven head, startling him.

“Sitting there with your mouth open like a frog in a brown study!” came a familiar voice from behind Frank. It was Jimmy, Frank’s friend from his school days. 

He tried to pull Frank out of his depression and pointless reminiscences, and suggested going on a long holiday to Florida. 

Frank said Florida had been Marguerite’s favourite holiday destination so he couldn’t bring himself to go there. Instead, Frank decided to fly down to Altea on the Costa Blanca for a fortnight, and Jimmy was very surprised at his friend taking up his suggestion.

Two days after Frank had arrived at Altea he decided to go and have a drink on the veranda. Through binoculars Frank had a look at the sparkling bay of the coastal resort and its picturesque labyrinth of streets, all of whitewashed houses and the odd chapel when two people caught his eye on the veranda of a hotel about 120 yards away. 

He doubted his senses for a moment and thought he was dreaming, but the woman he could see was, without a shadow of a doubt, his late wife Marguerite and the man with her – although he wore shades - was Roy! 

But how? 

They’d been killed in that car crash three years back. 

Frank took the binoculars from his eyes and started to worry about his sanity. He took another look, and he saw it really was Marguerite and Roy. 

Had they somehow faked their deaths to start a new life in Spain? 

Frank watched them for about fifteen minutes until they left the veranda and went into their hotel room. The temperature was in the seventies and yet Frank went cold inside.

He got on his room telephone and asked the receptionist to place a call to Liverpool. 
The phone in Jimmy’s Huyton home rang and he answered it. When he heard what Frank had to say, he said: “Frank, you identified your wife at the morgue. She’s dead.

You’ve just seen someone who looks like her.’

“Jimmy I’d bet my-life savings on you being wrong” said Frank,  “I was married to Marguerite for twelve years and it’s her, and it’s Roy, and I don’t know how they did it, but they’re alive and well, and I don’t know whether to tell the police or a solicitor or the damned Spanish Interior Ministry, but I’m going over to their hotel to get some answers.”

“Frank, unless you believe in ghosts, and ghosts that take holidays at that, I’d drop this now,” advised a concerned-sounding Jimmy, “or it’s going to get you into a heap of trouble.”

But Frank couldn’t drop it. He started hanging round outside the hotel, watching through sunglasses from under a trilby, and days after he had first spotted them through his binoculars, they walked out the hotel and passed within six feet of him - two supposedly dead people who looked very tanned and healthy. 

Frank tried to follow them but they jumped in a cab. He went to their hotel and offered the receptionist ten thousand pesetas to tell him who the couple were who had just left, and Frank described them. 

He discovered they were booked in under the names Roy Ortiz and Marguerite Appleton. They were both English and had been staying at the hotel for a week.

Frank returned to his hotel and grabbed his camera, and then he went back to the hotel were his - resurrected - wife and her lover were staying. 

Frank sipped numerous Martinis in the lounge, and the couple came in two hours later. Frank shouted to them: “Say cheese! and took a flash photograph.”

The acted as if they didn’t know who he was; all puzzled expressions and up and down glances cast at him.

“For two people who have been pushing up the daisies for three years, I must say you’re both looking remarkably well!” yelled a tipsy Frank.

When the couple walked on, Frank swung his fist at Roy, but missed, and fell. 

Within minutes the hotel manager called the police and Frank was taken away, charged with being drunk and disorderly, and he made his way back to his hotel the next day after drying out in the police cells. 

His hangover was so bad, he went to bed, but two figures appeared in his hotel room.

It was Marguerite and Roy - at least that’s what Frank thought. 

In an unearthly weird voice, Roy said he was not human, and that he and this other one had been using the identities of two people who had died for certain reasons.

“You must tell no one about us or we’ll kill you,” said the man, and the figures vanished, along with the camera they’d been snapped with. 

They were never seen again. Were they aliens in disguise? Frank remains perplexed to this day.

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on February 1st, 2019



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