After quite a flurry of unexplained disappearances a fortnight ago, things seemed to have quietened down. People were going about their business and did not disappear. I began even to start to doubt myself. Perhaps this was all a coincidence. There must be a reasonable explanation. After all, people don’t just disappear.
They do – and it’s still happening.
23 March at 6.15pm. Into The Coach and Horses in Harrogate walk Brian Jonson and Nick Mercer. They’re both in their sixties, family men. They both worked at Barratts, the noted shoe emporium, until December when it collapsed. They were asset stripped and while they had long service, the redundancy money only cushioned the severe blow.
Friday was their last day of work. They went to The Coach and Horses with some work colleagues. Speeches are made, toasts are drunk, presents are handed over.
Gradually the guests leave one by one. I have a babysitter. I promised to be home by 7.30. Until finally Brian and Nick are left alone. What happens next is unknown. The last of the guests to leave, Shelley Kane, recalls:
They seemed quite lively at the beginning of the night, giving it all the ‘looking forward to retirement’ bit. They was laughing and joking. But as they drank they started to get a bit more miserable and that’s when people started making their excuses. It’s all very well for them to start ripping into Barratts but some of us still have to work there as they wind it up or find a buyer. When I left they were sitting at a table and I could tell they were there for the duration. I thought this is one black hole I don’t want to get near you know what I mean so I made up something about picking my kid up from sports day and left. They were sat either side of a table, caps on their heads, curved backs, shoulders forward, protecting their pints.
The landlord didn’t see anyone leave. But when he did the rounds of glasses, the table was empty, drinks unfinished. The Jonson and Mercer families are devastated.
Incredible to think that even I, a truth seeker, doubted the evidence of my own eyes. But I did. It’s hard. It’s incredible. It’s horrible.
But people are disappearing. Right now.
I pledge to find out. But more I pledge to get them back. Because yes, I know they are coming back.
They Aren’t Gone. #TAG2012