The Return of Rose White

(c) Nate Marvin/Flickr

(c) Nate Marvin/Flickr

When Madame Veneris reached the cemetery, the first thing she did, after getting out of her car and setting down the blue blanket and candle, was to pull up the robe at her wrist and turn on the small black device there.

“Where are you located?” she said into it.

“Turn around and look to your left. I’m behind the tree near the angel.”

Madame Veneris peered through the deepening twilight and saw Tom lean out from the tree and wave.

“Did you test out the orb like I asked?”

“Of course I did! It shows up silver this time.”

“All right. I’m turning this thing up. Watch for my signal and then do your best woman’s voice. Make it bright.”

She quickly spread the dark blue blanket, embroidered with gold stars and moons, on the grass between the gravestones and set the candle down in the center. Pulling the device off her wrist, she walked to the other side of the blanket and pushed it down into the grass by a large monument.

Raising her hands up into the air, she cried, “Spirit! Let your presence be known to us!”

From the monument came a woman’s voice, “Who has disturbed my rest? Is that you, Monty? Why, it’s been twenty-five years but you look the same.”

“Great! Perfect! Keep it like that.”

Quickly, she unloaded the rest of the stuff from her car trunk. She set up the tall tiki torches in a circle around the blanket, pushing them hard down into the earth, and lighted them. Placing the small, bronze bowls at the four corners of the blanket, she set the incense cones in them and touched her lighter to their tips.

She had just finished the preparations, lit the candle in the center of the blanket and placed the wind guard, when a car pulled into the cemetery drive. It moved slowly up the hill on the white gravel path between the stones.

Madame Veneris took a deep breath and then let it out slowly. She was always nervous doing séances in cemeteries. One could never be sure who might show up. It was always easier back in her shop where precautions were in place for such things.

“Hope for the best,” she whispered. “Prepare for the worst.”

The car stopped some twenty feet away from where she stood on the blanket, ringed by the lighted torches, and she watched as two people got out.

An older man and younger woman, both in dark suits, walked toward her from the car, the woman carrying a briefcase. The woman came up first, saying, “I’m assuming you’re Madame Veneris? I’m Victoria Klein, we spoke on the phone. This is my client, Mister Herbert Terrence.”

“So very pleased to meet you,” Madame Veneris said, shaking both their hands. “The energies are strong tonight. We shall make splendid contact with your loved one.”

“I’m sure we will,” Mr. Terrence said.

“Are you also a believer, Ms. Klein?”

“Not so much,” she said, shaking her head. She shrugged and then said, “Not an unbeliever, either, though.”

“I see. Well, would you both sit, please, one to either side of me, around the candle.”

When they were seated, Madame Veneris asked, “Who is the spirit we seek commerce with this evening?”

Mister Terrence gestured and Victoria said, “Mister Terrence is thinking of changing his will. He needs some information from a friend of his, Rose, who has now passed on.”

“Rose White,” Mr. Terrence said. “This was one of her favorite spots.”

“Well, let us begin. Please close your eyes and let’s join hands. Breathe in—and exhale slowly—then again, slowly. We must quiet our energies. Think of Rose White. Concentrate all your energies on her name and calling her to us now.”

She repeated the breathing technique, reminded them to focus their energies and, when she paused and listened to their slow, regular breathing, she opened her eyes narrowly. Both their eyes were closed and they seemed to be concentrating. It was always a good sign when the eyes were closed.  Madame Veneris took a deep breath, smiling.

“Oh, spirits of the ethereal plane, come into our presence now and speak to us. Do not fear us as we do not fear you. We invite the spirit of Rose White to walk among us and commune again with life and the living.”

There was silence and then, from behind Mr. Terrence, came a woman’s voice.

“Who has disturbed my rest?”

“What do I do?” Mr. Terrence whispered.

“Speak to her,” Madame Veneris said. “Loudly and clearly.”

“Rose? Is that you?”

“It is I, Herbert.”

“Strange. You don’t sound anything like I thought you would.”

“There are many changes out of the body, old friend.”

“You were my old friend, all right.”

“And you were always mine.”

“Listen, I have to ask you something. You remember that anniversary party when Margaret and I got into that big fight? I need to know—was she cheating on me or did I really just forget that I had bought her that necklace?”

“I am a little foggy on that night. Could you remind me?”

“Foggy? You were right there!”

“Ah, yes, but here in the afterlife we sometimes forget things.”

Madame Veneris heard Mr. Terrence sigh heavily.

“I went to her jewelry box to drop in the necklace I’d gotten her, for a surprise, and I found a necklace there I’d never given her. She said I’d given it to her and forgotten about it. Was she telling the truth?

“I was often very sleepy, you know.”


“I mean ‘sleepy’ as in ‘not paying attention’.”

“Listen, this is important. What about now? Is she cheating on me now?”

“I am close beside you always, dear friend. Open your eyes.”

There was a large silver orb dancing among the gravestones and, as the three watched, it came closer and then darted away.

“What’re you doing?” Mr. Terrence said. “Get back here and answer the question!”

Suddenly, from out of the darkness behind the dancing orb, a large white dog came loping from between the stones. A Labrador, she glared and growled low at Madame Veneris as she came slowly forward and then trotted over toward the monument. The dog sniffed at the monument by Mr. Terrence, picked something up, and dropped it into his lap.

From the device the voice came, “I cannot stay, my friend, but know Margaret was always true to you.”

“Rose White,” Mr. Terrence said, smiling.

He moved to hug the dog but his arms passed through her and he fell forward on to the blanket. Rose bobbed her head and licked at his face with her phantom tongue.

“Rose, it’s so good to see you again.”

Madame Veneris and Victoria Klein stared quietly. Madame Veneris wished she could convince herself that Tom had somehow put this together. She shut her eyes tightly.

“Did you hear my question, Rosie? Was Margaret seeing another guy? Is she seeing him now? Bark once for no and twice for yes.”

The dog barked twice.

“I knew it. You were always the only friend I could count on.”

Mr. Terrence got to his knees, picked up the device and tossed it to Victoria, never looking away from the dog. Then, kneeling, he reached out to stroke the air by Rose’s ear.

“Whether in life or death,” he said. “A dog is more human than a human every time.”

The dog moved to lick at her friend’s hand. She made a low, gentle, sound from her throat.

“Thanks, Rosie,” Mr. Terrence said. “You were always the best.”

Rose White bobbed her head at him, turned, and began trotting away. She looked back once and Mr. Terrence waved to her, smiling, and then she grew paler and vanished into the night air.

Victoria Klein said, “Well, that was certainly very interesting.”

She held up the device before Madame Veneris and said, “But, then so is this. What’s this, then?”

“I am sure I do not know.”

“You don’t know.”


“Yes, well, I think you do.”

Victoria spoke into the device, “Nice show but no go,” and then, tossing the device at Madame Veneris, said, “You won’t be paid, of course, and I’m also reporting this to the police. Let’s go, Mister Terrence.”

Madame Veneris sat staring silently down at the flickering candle on the blanket.

As they walked away toward the car, she heard Mr. Terrence say to Victoria Klein, “I actually almost believed it. Couldn’t figure out how a dog was talking, though.”

“That was impressive with the dog, I must say.”

“Oh, that was no trick. That was Rosie.”

“Yes, well. Will you be drawing up the new will, then?”

“Most certainly. Dogs never lie. This one time…”

Madame Veneris watched them get into the car and then stared dully at the red tail lights as they slowly moved down the hill toward the road.

When they were gone, she unzipped her robe, reached into her breast pocket and pulled out a cigarette. She stuck it between her lips and lighted it from the candle. Then she blew the candle out and set it back down in the center of the blanket. She blew a plume of smoke out slowly into the night air, gazing up into the darkness.

Tom walked up and stood at the corner of the blanket, his hands in his pockets. He said, “Well, that didn’t go like I thought.”

Madame Veneris sighed and shook her head. She took another long drag on her cigarette and blew the smoke out toward the quiet candle.

“Never does when the real thing shows up.”

“What’ll we do now?”

“I don’t know,” Madame Veneris said. “But how about we get out of here before that dog comes back?”

Joshua J. Mark is a freelance writer/editor/research professional with over twenty years of experience. He has lived in Greece and Germany and presently lives in Staatsburg, NY with his wife and daughter. Mark is a director, contributor, and editor for Ancient History Encyclopedia, a non-profit website offering accurate and up-to-date articles and images on ancient history. He is also published through Timeless Travels Magazine, Celtic Guide, History Ireland, Writes for All Magazine, Five Stop Story, and Hudson Valley Magazine. Mark is a part-time teacher of philosophy and writing at Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

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