the old lady

 

the old lady

 

 

in the middle of the village there is a house. from the outside it looks like a very ordinary house, just like those either side of it. it looks as though the people who live there are just ordinary people, who go to bingo once a week and save money in the local christmas club. there is a little lawn at the front with a path leading up to the front door. the front door is the same as the houses either side.

 

but once you are inside the house, you enter another world. the living room has walls painted to look like a scene from a mediterranean hillside, with artificial stone columns fixed at intervals along the wall, so it seems as though you are in tuscany. in the corners are statues of venus and david. there is a fireplace that would not look out of place in a stately home, and a cocktail cabinet containing every sort of exotic liquor. the kitchen is full of shiny gadgets and the latest machines. the walls are black marble with tiny glittering specks that catch the light from the halogen lamps. the floor is marble too.

 

this is the house of an old lady. she is a very big woman, with faded red hair and a broad scottish accent. she moves with difficulty, partly due to the weight she carries and partly because she gets very little practice at moving. nothing in this house was paid for by honest toil.

the old lady and her husband have lived in the village for many years. they came from scotland to live here. after they had lived in the village for a little while the old lady had an idea. they would become entrepreneurs. they would sell magic powder.

 

magic powder is wonderful stuff. it makes all your cares fly away. it makes you relaxed and warm and blissful. it makes life feel fun again. the only trouble is that you can become too fond of the magic powder very quickly. without it your life grows increasingly bleak. but this was the genius of the old lady's idea. once they had found people to buy their magic powder the people would keep buying it, because they would not have a choice.

 

the magic powder caught on. soon people were queuing up to buy it. the old lady decided that the business was getting a little too successful. the last thing she wanted was for the sheriff to start poking his nose in and telling her that she was breaking the law by selling magic powder. she knew this already. she decided to diversify. she got her son and his wife to set up a home delivery operation.

 

her son took to the delivery business like a duck to water. he was a natural. he developed ingenious ways of getting people to pay if they were a little bit slow. he pushed up profits by offering free gifts of other magic powders and also magic rocks. his wife concentrated on building up the business among the younger members of the community. this is called developing new markets.

 

time went by. the son and his wife had a family of their own. they had 3 children and got their own house in the village. they carried on working in the family business. their children grew older and went to school.

 

but then things began to go bad for the son and his wife. they saw how happy the magic powder made people so they wanted to try some themselves. but as we know, the magic powder has one major problem. once you have some, you want some more. and more. and more. the son and his wife knew this, but somehow it slipped their minds. and as they had so much of the magic powder around them that once they got started they were like children in a sweet shop.

 

things started to fall apart. the son got angry. he started to beat the wife. he smashed things up around the house. he beat the children. eventually the kind ladies took the children away and took them to live with the old lady. they were safe there. the old lady struck terror into the hearts of the hardest men in the village. her son would not have dared to hurt them in her house. but without the children things unravelled between the son and his wife.

 

she left him, then went back, then left him. then she went for a holiday with the queen in her castle. in the castle there was just as much magic powder as in the village. so when she came home again she was still in a bad place in her head. too much magic powder has a strange effect on the chemicals in your brain.

 

the son made some bad choices. he got more and more violent with people who wouldn't pay for their deliveries. he chased one man through the village with a lump of wood with nails hammered through the end to form spikes. he jumped into a car with a woman and her little boy in it and tried to make them drive him after a man he was chasing. he set places on fire. he pulled knives on people. he was only a small man but the magic powder made him very strong. once it took three of the sheriff's biggest men to hold him down when they wanted to ask him some questions.

 

things got even worse. his daughter was by now grown up. not very grown up but grown up enough to have her own daughter and her own place. one day he went round there after he had some magic rocks. his head was in a very bad place. he got angry with his daughter and her child, who was still small. he hit them and frightened them. by now the people in the village had really had enough of this. the wizard made a spell and the man was banned from the village.

 

even after this things got worse. the man's wife drank a lot of wine as well as taking a lot of magic powder. she staggered around, often not sure where she was. one day she was in the local town. by coincidence so was the man. the man was with the probation elf, who he saw once a week. every week the probation elf asked how he was and every week the man said he was doing fine. they had just had their little chat and the man was on his way home. he saw his wife over the road and started to walk over to speak to her. but his wife was not in a good state. she staggered backwards and forwards and fell into the road. she fell into the road, just as a bus was coming along. she died instantly. the man screamed and screamed until nothing more would come out.

 

after this, the man went further down into a world of chaos. his children went off the rails. they tried to make the pain go away with the magic powder. it was something of a family tradition by now. the daughter took over from her mother and started to sell magic powder. she kept it behind the walls of her cottage so the sheriff would not find it. you may remember the story of the young knight. the daughter made an appearance there too. somehow people with damaged souls seem to find each other.

 

this story does have a happy ending. not entirely happy but at least not as sad as some stories. after his wife died, and his children fell to pieces, the man did a bit of thinking. he decided that he was going to stop taking the magic powder. this is not an easy thing to do. it takes strength and determination. no-one believed the man could do it.

 

one day, a long time afterwards, a friend of the man wrote to the wizard. he said the man had not only given up the magic powder but that he had also got a job helping other people to give it up too. he wanted to come back to the village. the man's daughter said it was true, her father had changed into a fine man, helping people to stop taking the magic powder. people listened to him when he told them it would ruin their lives, because they had seen what had happened to his family.

 

and what of the old lady? she still lives in her house, surrounded by scenery from tuscany. but when she wipes her marble worktops, and sweeps her marble floors, she wishes that she was someone who went to bingo once a week and saved money in the christmas club. she wishes she had never decided to become an entrepreneur.