Frank woke up thinking somebody, next door, was banging holes in the wall, with a lump hammer. Then he realised the banging was going on inside his head. He crawled downstairs, it was half past four in the afternoon. For the last four years he'd been a postal `courier' with a private postal company that scraped by in the business sector. This last month he'd been on early shift, 4am to 12.30pm. Still, he thought, it was Friday and he was off for the weekend.

The post and the evening paper still lay on the mat. Good, maybe Mrs McCafferty was having her afternoon siesta. There were a couple of months worth of back rent to think about. He picked up his post and examined it. One envelope carried the `FleetPost' company logo.

Funny, he thought, He'd had his wage receipt the week before. With a sinking feeling he opened it, his severance cheque, leaving papers and a note. He'd been layed off. Suddenly life, fun and happiness, not to mention the prospects of wild weekend away from his cares and worries, swirled away down an invisible plughole that had opened up in the pit of his stomach.

As he stood, contemplating his fate, the hair on the back of his neck prickled and he heard a noise behind him. He turned to discover his landlady, Mrs McCafferty, bearing down on him.

With back rent owing and in her BeautyMud, face-pack and curlers she was downright terrifying.

He jumped in shock, just managing to suppress a gasp. "Mrs McCafferty, I didn't see you there!"

"No, I'm sure you didn't Mr Franzetti." Mrs McCafferty's refined accent had the fragile, brittle quality of cut glass. She brandished it like a Stanley knife. "I do hope you haven't been trying to avoid me, there is the serious matter of rent owing. I'm afraid that if you are unable to find at least some of what is owing, by Monday, then I shall, very regrettably, have to ask you to leave."

copyright, 2002 AndroMan