If Joyce had learned anything since she died, it was that people do very strange things when they are alone.
The previous tenant. a German, alternated between impersonating Cilla Black and crying copiously while staring out of the window.
Sometimes his wife visited.
She was from Liverpool. Had ginger hair.
Gawpers came to visit Artichoke Parry’s grave as well.
‘Cruelly underbaked, but delivered promptly to God,’ his headstone reads.
Laminated notes have been weighted down with blue quartz pebbles.
There are other, stranger offerings; jigsaw pieces, a large wooden wasp.
A woman lays a fresh bouquet, stands, then cries silently.
Phyllis heard it distantly.
A sound from beneath the hills, as if their very roots were wailing in grief.
Across the village, Gwilym’s head seemed to slip. He stared at the floor.
‘No,’ said the unemployed electrician, wide-eyeing his phone. ‘Prince is dead!’
An almost imperceptible keening filled the bar.
‘Don’t speak,’ Mr Deep had warned him. ‘Just hand over the pizza and take the money.’
Now light blazed through the front door’s frosted glass.
Gavin wrestled the boxes out of the thermal bag.
A manshaped black hole stood silhouetted in the doorway.
The exchange was made.
Nothing was said.
The hotel bar was busy.
Mr Guntrip was regaling Ralph with his encyclopedic knowledge of music hall sings.
Frank was discussing apocalyptic novels with the unemployed electrician.
Gwilym, as always, fixed his wooden eyes on the scene in front of him.
Jeff in turn glared at Gwilym.
Nobody noticed this.
‘So this is an actual declaration of war?’
‘It was found in the lost property box in The Elderly Crow, O King.’
‘Does that make it more real?’
‘It makes it anonymous, O King.’
The Gnome King sighed.
‘Then we will have to consult Prince, our King Across The Water.’
Abdul has been on holiday to Leicester.
‘You have a nice time?’ asked Phyllis.
‘Yes. Leicester is the nightlife centre of Europe.’
‘Indeed. I met some top architects from Dubai who had come to study nightclub construction.’
Phyllis, drying glasses, was miles away.
Not Leicester though.
Beryl has discovered some dress designs created by the former owner.
It would be wrong, she reasons, to neglect them. The styles are obviously of a time past, but seem oddly timeless.
In her cellar she pulls out lengths of sheer fabrics.
Upstairs the mannikins shift imperceptibly in their window.
The Cythrauls’ cat had recently been diagnosed with a thyroid condition and was consequently on a special diet.
Mr Cythraul had decided to eat his pork pies in the kitchen to avoid the guilt of not giving the cat a treat.
Paradoxical behaviour for one who has slaughtered animals dispassionately.