“And what about Little Dishforth?” Craig prompted now, and she gave a little shrug.
“I get restless, bored, and every so often I have to take off. Mum and Dad just seem to understand, and let me do what I need to do. And this last time it brought me here.”
Her gaze moved to rest on Tim, unconsciously massaging his knee as he talked intently to Cally.
“That’s why I have so much respect for Tim and what he’s doing with dogs like Chap. It would have been so easy to write him off – just like my mum and dad could have given up on me. But he believes in second chances. I suppose he identifies with it even more given his injury. You know, no-one wrote him off. He knows what it’s like.”
“And Cally’s always been one to want to rescue a stray,” Craig put in, watching his sister with Tim, cosy, affectionate, laughing. “I just hope she’s not bitten off too much this time.”
Sheila was building up to her final chorus, and they could see her lips moving, but suddenly the place was plunged into silence. Where was the sound?
“Somebody’s pulled the plug!” Cally exclaimed.
“There! Did you see that?” Cally grabbed Tim’s arm and pointed. “Over there, behind the karaoke machine.” The pub had become noisier than ever, not with singing, but with the uproar caused by the fact that the music machine had suddenly gone silent.
“What happened?” Tim turned to Cally, but she was out of her seat and shimmying through the crowd like a bloodhound following a scent.
“Where are we going?” Tim asked, doing his best to keep up with her. It was much easier for her to squirm between the jostling bodies. For one thing she was more agile, but her slim shape made faster progress than his solid bulk, too.
“I thought I saw someone. It’s going to sound ridiculous, but I thought I saw a man in a dressing-gown,” she said over her shoulder.
Tim did a double-take.
“A man in a . . . It doesn’t seem likely, Cally. Are you sure it wasn’t kids messing about?”
She had reached the quiet area behind the karaoke machine, where Ged was scratching his head as he looked down at the plug and cable coiled on the floor right below the socket. He glanced up at them as they joined him.
“The plug came out.” He sounded bewildered. “But how could that happen? Do you think someone tripped over it? I try not to let anyone come back here in case of accidents.”
“I don’t think this was any accident, Ged,” Cally said, scrutinising the plug and socket with an intensity that would have done Miss Marple proud.
“I think what we have here is another of our ‘incidents’,” she said. “I think someone deliberately pulled the plug on the night because they took exception to the noise. Sorry, Sheila!” she said as her friend joined them. “I mean the singing in general, not your song in particular!”
“An unseen hand?” Sheila said, her tone adding relish to the mystery.
“Not quite unseen,” Tim put in. “Cally thinks she saw something – or someone.”
All eyes turned to stare at her, and she tipped her head from side to side.
“I thought I did.” To be honest, she was having doubts. It did seem ridiculous. But they weren’t going to let it go now Tim had said this much.
“I thought I saw a man in a dressing-gown. You know, one of those old-fashioned woollen plaid ones.”
“You mean, like he was a ghost from the past?” Sheila pulled a face.
“No, Sheila, not like a ghost! Just like an older man would wear.” She looked around the group. “But no-one else saw anything, so I probably imagined it.”