BLEAK SPOUSE: Chapter 4 – A Morning Misadventure

GRIM GRANGE. Although the morning was raw, and although the fog still seemed heavy — I say seemed, for the windows were so encrusted with dirt, that they would have made midsummer sunshine dim — Prissy was sufficiently aware of how bored the children were, and sufficiently appalled that they were so poor that they did not possess the latest model iPhones, to think it a good idea to take Clint and Chantelle into town to correct that travesty.

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Thirty minutes later Prissy and adopted cousins are walking from the multi-storey into town when they encounter a shady-looking man in the street, supervising two equally shady-looking men, who are throwing furniture and clothing out of a second-floor flat window on to the street, while a distraught-looking man looks on.

Nosey as ever, Prissy asks the first shady-looking man what is going on.

The man explains that he is Mr Crooked, the landlord of the flat, and that the tenant (he nods towards the distraught-looking man) hasn't paid the last month's rent, so he is evicting him, and his belongings.

Prissy has a feeling that there could be something wrong about this, but as nobody else in the street seems to give a damn (other than about having their progress impeded by broken furniture and worn-out clothing), she decides not to press the matter.

At that point, a dishevelled tramp-like man enters the building. He and Prissy exchange glances. The man has a far-away look in his eyes, but Prissy thinks she knows him from somewhere. She asks Mr Crooked if he knows who the man is.

"'Im? 'E's Larry Lizzard, anovver one o' me tenants. Used to be some sort of big-shot, but now 'e's just a junkie." Replies Mr Crooked.

"A junkie?" Asks Prissy.

"Yeah," says Mr Crooked, "always drugged up to the eyeballs, that one. Still, 'e does pay 'is rent, or at least harsin benefit does."

Prissy watches Larry Lizzard shamble inside. As he disappears, she turns towards the distraught-looking man, who is forlornly gathering his belongings, or at least those few items that remain intact, whilst clutching a bag of papers. An emotion arises in Prissy's chest that she has not felt before. For some reason that escapes her, she feels pity for the man.

Prissy is not quite sure what to do - helping others is something of which she has no experience. She asks the man his name. He says it is Matt, Matt O'Gridley.

"Where are you going to go now?" Asks Prissy.

"No idea," says Matt. "My wife chucked me out of my home, now my landlord has chucked me out of here. I've nowhere to go but the street."

The thought of having to sleep on the street abhors Prissy. She racks her brains for a suggestion, and remembers from somewhere that there is a homeless shelter not too far away.

"Why don't you go to Bellend House?" She asks.

"Bellend House? What's that?" Asks Matt.

"A homeless shelter - they'll take you in. It's just down there." Says Prissy, pointing towards the seedier end of town.

Matt agrees to give it a try, and in a fit of philanthropy Prissy finds herself agreeing to go and visit him once he has settled in, an offer she immediately regrets.

Just then Prissy realises that Clint and Chantelle are getting exceedingly agitated at the delay in the purchase of their new mobies. She says a quick farewell to Matt, and resumes her journey into town.