|Carol King , Old Woman in Window, Istria,|
He looked at her for several heartbeats, his face serious.
“Ya do deserve better. But maybe—‘strue, Ezz--maybe ya naid better’n me. I’m pretty damaged. Oi lived on the straits. Oi whored to pay for everything. Oi caught the big H. Oi took drugs an’ stuff.” There were some things he was never going to tell. Never. To anybody. Tom knew, because Tom had seen him that night, huddled in the doorway, an icy southerly scouring his bones. Tom knew all right. He’d been in bad places himself. Tom didn’t need to be told. “Y’re a noice middle class girl. Ya knaow, proper accent, educated, noice home …”
“… where my father raped me several times a week. And beat me up. A nice middle class home where the grounds were big enough to mean the neighbours couldn’t hear the screams …”
“Yep. That’s it, exac’ly. You naid someone who has no baggage, someone noice and normal and straight.”
It came to her in an epiphany that that was precisely what she didn’t need. “No!” she wailed. “What I need is someone like you! ‘Cos you understand!”
A voice came from the window in the three-storey Victorian brick house which backed onto their building.
“Can youse two get on with it? I main, ther’re paiple tryin’ to slaip here. Take him home, darl, an’ fuck him silly.”
As far as they could see, the speaker was a very old old lady wearing a shapeless grey dressing gown, her hair in curlers covered with a net.
“Not thet Oi daon’t moind a bit of a soap drama, ya knaow. But Jaysus, a lady’s got ta slaip. Moi beauty slaip, ya knaow.”
Keith stood up and bowed to her, and shouted back, “Ma’am, I apologise for disturbin’ your repose. We will take your advoice at once.”
Esmé giggled, suddenly and inexplicably happy. She stuck her arm through his and said, “C’mon. Let’s go to your flat.”
As they left the little courtyard, Keith turned and waved, but the old lady had gone.
Episodes 1 to 460 (without pictures, 20 episodes per chapter)