WELCOME to Haunted Wirral, a feature series written by world-famous psychic researcher, Tom Slemen for the Globe.
In this latest tale, Tom tells the sad tale of the ghost in the puddle.
FOR reasons of confidentiality I have had to change a few names in this strange story.
It was a sunny Saturday morning in July 1972 when 11-year-old Davy Watford left his home in Paterson Street, Birkenhead after watching Sesame Street, Cartoon Time and Thunderbirds on the telly.
With his cherished brand new plastic-skinned football, the lad called at the home of best friend Danny in Aberdeen Street.
Danny’s mum said he was out and she didn't know where he was.
Davy went in search of his friend, kicking the football along as he did.
At one point Davy chipped the ball high into the air on the corner of Cavendish Street and Beckwith Street, and it landed in a puddle of rain from the night before.
As the boy stooped to retrieve the bobbing ball from the deep puddle, which was situated in a depression in the tar macadam a few inches from the kerb, he saw the rainbow slick on its surface, created by oil or petrol from a car that had been parked there.
He also saw something else which gave him quite a start; the upside down head and shoulders of a man, reflected in that puddle.
When Davy looked up to see who it was standing there - he saw no one - and yet there was a reflection of that person in the puddle - which did not make the slightest sense.
"Oi! you!" said a voice that came from the puddle, and Davy froze with fear, for it was as if the man was actually under the water.
The boy was so afraid, he was ready to run away and abandon his prized football.
"Don't be scared, lad", said the man in the puddle, and his upside-down face smiled, even though it seemed like a frown to Davy.
The stranger had short black hair, a pale, colourless face, penetrating dark eyes, and a white collar and royal blue tie. The shoulders of his jacket looked bluish too.
Davy stepped away from the puddle, and at that moment, Danny, Davy’s best friend, came down the road and shouted, ‘Pass the ball!’
A startled Davy looked up and said: "There-there's a ghost in the puddle." As Danny came over to kick the ball, the man in the pool vanished.
Danny kicked the ball out of the puddle and took little notice of his friend’s babbling account of the ghost.
The boys headed for Birkenhead Park, and later in the afternoon, Davy told Danny they should go back to that puddle on the corner of Cavendish Street and see if the man was still there.
Danny thought his friend was just trying to scare him and issued the challenge, "Cross your heart and hope to die and drop down dead if you're telling a lie!"
Davy licked the tip of his index finger and traced a cross on his chest and said: "Cross me heart!"
"Come on then!" Danny marched from Ashville Road, bouncing the ball and singing the theme to the Harlem Globetrotters cartoon show, but upon reaching the rain puddle in the road his false bravado had evaporated, and the boy noticed that there was no one about, just him and Davy.
"That's where he was, just there, honest," Davy pointed into the calm water which now reflected pure blue sky.
"Well he's not there now, so let’s cut", Danny suggested, trying to spin the football on his fingertip.
But it fell into the puddle, and when he bent down to pick it up, he and Davy saw the distinct figure of an inverted man in the rippling rainwater.
Danny ran off and when he had covered twenty yards he slowed, looked back and urged Davy to run too, but Davy stood there with a weakness in his legs, looking down at the ghost forming as the ripples settled down.
"Go to Aspinall Street, please, young man," said the ghost in a mournful voice.
He gave the number of a house in the street concerned, then said: "and tell Annie Stroud I still love her. Go now, please!"
The figure then faded away and Davy regained the power of movement in his legs and stumbled away. He told Danny what the ghost had said and went home to Paterson Street.
Davy told his mother what had happened and she smirked and said: "A ghost in a puddle? I've never heard of anything as daft."
Davy met up with Danny, and the latter persuaded Davy to go and relay the message from the ghost to Annie Stroud.
The two boys went to Aspinall Street and Danny giggled as Davy knocked on the door.
A woman, aged about 40 answered and Davy asked: "Is Annie Stroud there?"
"Why? Who wants to know?" the woman asked, looking Davy up and down in a quizzical manner.
Davy told her: "I saw a ghost in a puddle and he told me to tell Annie that he still loved her."
"Go on! Beat it, you little idiot!’ said the woman waving the boy away, and she went in and slammed the door hard.
As the two boys walked along that door opened again and an old woman called them back.
She said she was Annie Stroud and looked very old.
She asked Davy to describe the ghost, and started to cry.
She said he had been her boyfriend, and many years ago he had collapsed from a seizure and had drowned after falling face down in a shallow rain puddle ...
* All Tom Slemen's books and audiobooks are on Amazon.