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Fast Fiction: In Lodgings

So when you are in lodgings and your landlady comes knocking on your door…

Richard Mallinson tells a tale touched with violence.

One night the landlady, Mrs Bream, young but a widow, came up to my room.

'How many wives have you had?' she asked, sitting down opposite me at the table where I was reading.

'None,' I said.

'And how many widows?'

'Ha, ha, that's very funny,' I said.

Leaning forward, she said, 'You and I get on well, don't we?'

She touched the top of the tall green vase on the table.

'We certainly do,' I said, trembling.

'You think about me a lot, don't you?'

I watched her fingers moving slowly on the vase and she smiled at me but then she said, 'No ... you're too young.'


A smart-suited middle-aged man, calling himself Lenny de Glader, came to live in the room below mine. He had slicked-back black hair.

I heard Mrs Bream laughing and talking to him on the stairs.

The first time I met him he said, 'Cheer up, mate.'

In my opinion he had an aura of gangland about him - but perhaps I'd been reading too many crime stories.

I asked Mrs Bream about him. 'Oh, Lenny is different,' she said, coyly.

She knocked at my door. Her face was bruised and she was in tears.

'I am so sorry to trouble you,' she said. 'It's just that I -'

'It's no trouble,' I said. 'Come in ... Would you like a cup of tea?'

'Well,' she said, 'I'd prefer a whisky but a cup of tea will do nicely.'

Ah, so that was it, I thought. She liked whisky, did she? Next time I would make sure that I had a bottle to hand.

'You don't know the first thing about women, do you?' she said.


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