Ricky’s family buy a mansion in a trendy suburb, with panoramic views of the city. Too good to be true… Yep, a real bargain. But this house also has a resident ghost, who wants them out. Cockroaches in the moving boxes, a red sock in the washing with his cricket whites! It’s up to Ricky, and his neighbour Fi, to solve this annoying mystery.
Kyle Mewburn is an award-winning author from Miller's Flat. This is her first book with OneTree House.
The real estate agent was waiting on the front steps. He rushed out to meet us and started babbling a confused sales pitch through Mum’s window before we’d even stopped. He was talking a million miles an hour.
'It’s a beautiful house, don’t you think? Once in a lifetime opportunity. That’s what the ad said. I wrote the ad myself, you know. So I guess I have to say that, don’t I? Ha ha! It’s your lucky day. But you better be quick. Just make an offer. I’m sure you’ll be happy here. What a beautiful house. You look like the kind of people who know a bargain when they see it. Just make an offer. It’s a buyer’s market, you know. First in, first served. Today’s your lucky day. Oh, I already said that. Ha ha!'
Mum and Dad kept swapping nervous glances as we rolled to a stop. I noticed Dad kept the engine running, while Mum’s hand hovered over the window button. I didn’t blame them. The real estate agent looked kind of crazy, with his wild, sticking-up hair and wide shiny eyes. He looked like he’d been sleeping on the doorstep for days, too. There were leaves stuck to his coat, coffee stains on his shirt, and his tie was tied in knots.
"Three good-sized garages,"Dad said, scratching his chin.
"Plenty of room for a ride-on mower and a heavy roller."
That meant he liked the house so far. Enough to want a better look, anyway. Even if it meant listening to a real estate agent blathering non-stop.
"And it’s very private," agreed Mum. "At least our posh neighbours won’t be able to see all our dirty laundry."
When Dad switched off the engine, I cheered inside.
"You happy to take strike, luv?" asked Dad.
Mum smiled. "I don’t think the wicket’s got too much spin left in it,” she said, opening the door. “But if he starts bowling bouncers, I’ll give you a call."
Mum got out one side and strode towards the front steps while Dad got out the other side and headed round the back.
The estate agent stood in the middle, undecided. His mouth gaped open as his head bounced between them. He looked as if he was watching an exciting ping-pong match. But as soon as Mum opened the front door, he ran to catch her.
I jumped out of the car and followed Dad. The front garden was all polished concrete tiles and rose beds around a massive fountain sculpture that looked more like a pile of scrap metal.
"Very posh," Dad mumbled.
We followed a narrow path between a row of tall cacti in pots and tiny trees that looked like lollipops. Dad pulled off a couple of leaves and sniffed them.
"Smells healthy," he said, twitching his moustache. We both knew he didn’t know the first thing about plants. But as soon as we reached to the backyard, Dad whistled. “Crikey!”
An immaculate lawn stretched out before us. It looked like a green chequerboard, dissolving into long grass around the edges. Dad’s eyes were sparkling with excitement. If there was one thing he did know about (apart from cricket, of course), it was lawns. There would have to be something pretty badly wrong with the place for him not to buy it now.
Dad knelt down and pushed his thumb into the ground.
"Nice and firm," he said. "The bowler will get a bit of turn and bounce. But the batsman should be rewarded for playing straight." He stood up and looked around as if he was standing at the batting crease at Lords assessing the field placings. "I reckon that twisted oak tree should be a four and a thump into those hedges should definitely be a six. Sound fair, Paddles?"
I rolled my eyes and sighed. I was getting too old to be called Paddles. All my friends called me Ricky. Dad always said I was going to be another Sir Richard Hadlee. When I was younger, I believed him, too. I used to be almost as obsessed with cricket as Dad is. I was always the best player in my team by a long way. But every year it gets harder and takes a lot more practice. It’s not as much fun as it used to be. Lucky I keep finding new things to get obsessed about. Last year it was BMX. And this year it’s rock climbing. I still like cricket, but it was going to take a while before Dad realised I didn’t love it as much he does any more.
"Yeah," I said. "And if you hit it into the pool it should be six and out, too."
“Good thinking, Paddles,"agreed Dad.
We stood there looking around. I could tell Dad was imagining a capacity crowd cheering as he whacked Brett Lee for a six over the long boundary. He was always imagining playing against famous cricketers . . . which wouldn’t be so embarrassing if he didn’t always commentate when my friends came over for a game.
I was looking around too. But a cricket match was the last thing on my mind. When I spotted a faint path winding off to the left, I didn’t waste any time.
"I’m just going to check out the cliff," I said. I don’t know if Dad even heard me. He was too busy practising his hook shot.
This is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of The Very Annoying Ghost by Kyle Mewburn, published by OneTree House, 2018.
the very annoying ghost
by Kyle Mewburn
Published by OneTree House