and then I smiled to myself.
Originally, the mystery of the ghost fire
had poised several questions in my mind.
Question of how, why and by who.
Normal phenomena was generally erratic,
in that you could not predict
when it when it would happen again.
However, the ghost fires were the opposite.
The first three were attention grabbers for the Burning Bush,
which now could be timed
at what time it would start
and at what time it would finish.
It was a very clever illusion
thought out by a very clever person.
I knew now how it was done,
but the remaining questions
of why and by who still needed to be answered.
Like Martin and others
my first thought were
that is was something paranormal.
Having stumbled by accident the truth,
the remaining two questions
could possibly be answered by the local Constable.
Finally I retired to bed with the satisfaction
I had almost solved the mystery.
The morning awoke
with a slight dropp in the temperature
and dark clouds threatening rain.
After breakfast,
I made my first journey to see the Burning Bush.
It was quite an ordinary bush as bushes go.
I walked round it several times
and looked around at the surrounding area.
I then took several photographs
of the area and the bush.
When I had enough,
I went to the Police Station
to talk to the local Constable.
As he saw me approach, he smiled.
His first question was how my investigation was going.
I assured him that it was nearly completed.
There were just a few questions I need answers for,
and then I should be able to solve the mystery of the Burning Bush.
I need to know how many people
had moved into the area
in the last three years and where they lived.
The Constable stroked his chin
and answered that there were only five people
who had moved to the village during the past three years.
Miss Featherbone the schoolmistress
who lived at the Inn was the last person.
She had only moved to the village about three months ago.
Before her there was Mr and Mrs Palfrey
who had purchased Lansdowne Farm
about two miles away.
Mr Gains a widower who bought Rose Cottage
just near the Inn
and Mr Harwood who lived at Beech Cottage
at the end of the high street.
He asked if I thought any of them were involved.
They might be unknowingly.
In addition, explained that some phenomena
follow certain people from place to place.
You mean like a family ghost. He asked.
Yes, I replied, like a family ghost.
I thanked him for his help, then left.
I decided to leave Miss Featherbone out
as the ghost fires had started long before
she came to the village.
I went along to see Mr Gains at Rose Cottage.
Gains was well into his seventies.
He viewed the Burning Bush as a nuisance.
He had come to the village for peace and quiet
and was most annoyed by what was happening.
I then went to see the Palfreys.
Unfortunately, they could not help me neither.
It was mid afternoon when I arrived at Beech Cottage.
I knocked the door and recognised Harwood
as soon as he answered.
He recognised me as well
and ushered me into the living room,
then made us both some tea.
You know who I am Oliver, he said.
I nodded, yes, the creator of the ghost fires.
It was very clever illusion, James.
The use of holographic images of fire.
I would never have guessed
until I accidentally found this little box
wedged between some loose bark on the tree
where the tramp had slept.
I said placing it on the table.
It was only when I accidentally activated it
before going to bed last night
that I realised the truth.
You have fooled a lot of people, but why?
If the visitors left the village,
it would become,
as the Americans would say a Ghost town.
The village needed an attraction,
hence the Burning Bush.
I hope you will not say that it is all a hoax Oliver.
I smiled and said I wouldn’t
I would let it remain a mystery to all.
Therefore Mr Rogers
that is the story behind The Burning Bush,
the true story,
not the ones that many books will come out with.
You see James Harwood used to be called
The Amazing Santini,
the man who could light his whole body
with fire without being burnt.
Of course, it was an illusion.
It wasn’t until the Burning Bush episode
that I found out how he did it.
Oliver rose from his chair,
moved across to his desk,
and shuffled some papers until he found several photographs.
These are photographs of The Burning Bush,
now I am getting rather tired.
I rose and bid him a goodnight
until we would meet again.
28 November 2007

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