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The call of the lost Jay - Landlady
Published Aug 3, 2012

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Page 1 / 36

The call of the lost Jay

Part 3, Landlady

Part 2, Sister is found here:

The call of the lost Jay

Part 3, Landlady

Part 2, Sister is found here:
The summer of 1957 was seeing the world rapidly changing. Major John Glenn had flown a new record in a supersonic jet; there was a two year suspension of nuclear testing and John Lennon and Paul McCartney meet for the first time, as teenagers at Woolton Fete.

But the summer of 1957 was the one where I finally reached my destination having left the farm in the winter of 1956.

Bridgeport City.
Spending the winter in a tent at the edge of Twinbrooke hadn’t been pleasant in the slightest. If anything it had made me appreciate that whilst the farm had not been the most pleasant of places, at least it had been warm and mildly comfortable. But I was here now. And it was grey and dreary and not what I’d been hoping for; Bridgeport City, the glimmering, shinning town where if you were anyone then you had to be here.

I had no intention of “making it”; in my opinion it was a stupid prospect for those who’d been lazy with their minds and lacked ambition. But the crowds of those who were hoping to make it would hide and shield me should anybody unwelcome come looking.
The place where I now found myself was shabby, dirty and a building site; not exactly what had been advertised in the paper. The roar of the traffic over the bridge and rumbling of the swinging crane next to the building were deafening.

But I couldn’t, shouldn’t and wouldn’t complain. The predicament I’d found myself in was not the one that I’d hoped for. I straightened my shoulders and reminded myself that this was not permanent; merely a stop point on my journey to find Lisette, my sister. I turned and pushed the heavy wooden door to the lobby open.
There was a woman waiting in the lobby. She was plain, but pretty, with nothing amazing about her features. Her eyes were what drew me in. Pale grey shinning eyes, full of intellect and knowledge. Her nose was slim but long, her lips a little too full for her small face, her forehead rather too large and her hair an unremarkable brunette. But to me she was the most beautiful woman in the world.

“Mr Jay, I presume?” She asked her tone upper class. Her eyebrow rose slightly at the question, and her lips did not yield a smile.
“Yep, that would be I ma'am. Grayson Jay, pleasure to meet you.” I held out my rough farm hand, and she met it with her delicate one, with an oddly tight shake for such a fragile looking young lady.

“Miss King. You are here to visit the penthouse suite, yes?” Her eyebrow rose again.

“Yes ma’am.”
She turned abruptly, rather rudely in fact, and pushed the call button of the elevator. You could hear it clanking down the elevator shaft, but it seemed to make it down in record time. We both squeezed in and she seemed to find admiring her wrist more interesting than myself. The doors chimed open, and I filed out after her. She had to jam the key into the lock and kick the bottom of the door to get it open. The kick was hard and true, and made me admire her; this delicate posh gal was made of stronger stuff.

“This is the living room, kitchen and dining area.” She indicated to the bland and boring room.
However I couldn’t help but admire the black and white television that sat in the corner of the room; a real treat as at the farm we had no technology, not even a refrigerator! She swiftly showed me the tiny bathroom and the rather more spacious bedroom.

“Nice view here.” I commented, trying to break the silence. She looked at me like I was mad; I spose when you saw the sea the whole time the awe of it rubs off pretty quick.
“Well then, that completes the tour. Would you care to look at the contract Mr Jay?” She asked as we hurried back into the living area, and indicated to a binder sat on the table.

I nodded and we sat opposite one another.

“The contract is for a six month lease. You have rights over the internal decorations of the apartment; you can move walls and services as you wish. However you cannot interfere with the external appearances and not affect fellow tenant’s services. There is no site parking and there is also a monthly service charge for the elevator. Rent is due every Friday at 6pm. Rent is 400 simoleons. Can you afford this Mr Jay?”

I nodded once again. I wasn’t going to mention that I’d sold my grandfathers car for a tidy sum; I could have put down a deposit on a house; however I didn’t want the long term commitment.

“Do you work Mr Jay?” Miss King asked.
“I start work with the Bridgeport Post within the next week ma’am.”

She nodded tightly.

“I would like to sign the contract now Miss King.”

Once again she nodded and handed me the pen. I quickly read the terms and conditions and signed on the dotted line. There was a name on the next line, Mr Thomas King, and a photograph in the dossier.

“Who is this man?” I asked.

She swallowed and her tight appearance suddenly slipped. She sighed quietly. The look that passed over her face was one that had been drowning in sorrow for some time and had recently resurfaced; knowing that she’d have to face her life and carry on.

“That man is my father, the old landlord. He passed away a few weeks ago and I inherited his estate.”

“I’m sorry for your loss Miss King.”

She nodded tightly again, the sorrow in her eyes disappearing.

She quickly signed her name in her father’s place on the contract; Jennifer King.
She stood took a signed copy of the contract for herself out of the dossier.

“It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance Mr Jay.” She held out her hand

“Likewise ma’am. Please, call me Grayson” I shook it, my hand lingering a second too long.

I followed her to the door and opened it for her; but I didn’t want her to go.

“Miss King; how do I pay my rent?”

“You can leave it in your mail box or see me at 6 o’clock sharp in the foyer every Friday night. Good day to you Mr Jay.”

And with that she was gone.
I surveyed my new apartment and appreciated the potential it had. It was run down and shabby, but for now it would do. I stood at the window in wonder; the sea was so vast and oddly calming, the rhythmic splash on the rocks below could be heard above the traffic. There was also the brand new science dome; I made a note to visit it as soon as possible.

But for now the television was calling me; I wanted to see a motion picture!
The following months were hot and balmy; there was constantly cloud but the heat kicked up from the city was stifling.

Every Friday night, I left my desk at the Bridgeport Post at 5pm sharp. I’d worked my way up to a lesser news writer and was proud of my little booth. I worked late every night except for Fridays, as that was the only day I got to see Miss King.

The first few weeks were hard; she took the money and barely engaged me in conversation. But one night she was five minutes late. It was my window.

“Miss King, you’re late!” I teased.

“Well Mr Jay, some of us do have other businesses to run you know!”

It transpired that she also owned the book store in town and had shares in the restaurant at the business offices. The next hour was spent discussing the merits of classics over more modern literature. From then our relationship blossomed into a teasing and intellectual friendship.
Autumn snuck up on Bridgeport with a huge gust of wind. Everybody rushed to the shops to buy scarves as the heat disintegrated and the biting winds pulled at the ladies skirt hems. Most people bitterly complained but I found it refreshing; it reminded me of home and the cold winters Lisette and I had spent playing in the barn.

I started leaving work at lunchtimes, eating in the restaurant below in the hope of seeing Jennifer King. I was well and truly besotted with her. One day, I had such luck.

“Jennifer!” I called across the crowded courtyard, “Jennifer!”

“Grayson, what a nice surprise!” She seemed genuinely happy to see me and my heart sung a little louder.
“What are you doing here?” I asked her.

“Putting your investigative skills to good use I see.” She rolled her eyes theatrically and I couldn’t help but laugh at my friend. “I had a meeting with my accountant in the offices above you if you must know.”
“All is well I take it? The money still growing on trees?” I asked with a grin.

She shifted uncomfortably. Evidentially that was the wrong thing to say.
“How is your latest article coming along? I always look forward to your reading your stories; you do a stellar job!”

I blushed at her compliment.

“I see my linguistic skills haven’t been hampered by being raised as a country hick then? And my latest article is going well; it’s about the latest spate of fish thefts.”

Jennifer laughed. “What a riveting story!”
She suddenly shivered as a gust of wind whipped in from the coast. She glanced at her wrist watch and looked at me cautiously.

“I have some time before my next meeting, would you like to accompany me on my way to get a coffee? It’s a bit chilly here and there’s a nice place just down the hill?” She indicated to the squat grey roofed building below us on the hill.

“It would be my pleasure ma’am.” I replied, offering her my arm.

She grasped it and we set off down the hill.
The coffee house was set back away from the street and was next door to a bar. Neon signs hung outside of the establishments and rock and roll music could be heard from inside. Subway trains could be heard rattling beneath us, and occasionally sparks would fly up from the grates beneath our feet. It was not quite the place I would have picked Jennifer to be in though; it seemed more adapt to my social level, country hicks and city brawlers.

“Nina’s opened up a few years ago; my father used to bring me here after his business meetings and tell me all about his naughty and horrendous business partners!” She giggled at the memory and pushed open the glass paned door.
The place was packed out with city workers; some of them were my colleagues from the paper. We squeezed onto bar stools and waited to be served in a comfortable silence. The music and chatter of the workers created a warm and cosy feeling. The place was clean and comfortable and evidently very popular.

“Have you ever had a coffee before Grayson?” Jennifer asked.

“No ma’am, not once.”

She just smiled.

“Doris could Mr Jay and I please have two lattes?” She called to the youth working behind the counter.

“Yes, of course, at once Miss King.”
I tried to push away the question on my lips and failed miserably.

“I take it that your business meeting didn’t go very well then?”

She visibly stiffened. “No Grayson, it didn’t. Unfortunately the apartment block is haemorrhaging money and I am struggling to break even.”

“Is it as dire as it sounds Jennifer?”

“The new building next door that is being constructed at the moment is turning tenants away due to the noise. Plus the whole building is in a state of disrepair. I may be forced to sell.” She said quietly.
“Does that mean that I could lose my home Jennifer?”

“It looks that way Gray.” She sighed.

I was shocked. It was the first time she’d truly opened up to me about her business and she’d shortened my name. Her clipped and upper class mannerisms were gone and she seemed like the twenty one year old who did indeed have all of the weight on the world on her shoulders.

Our coffees arrived and she perked up, thanking Doris and handing over the cash. I protested profusely and she just ignored me.

“To better prospects Mr Jay.” She toasted, holding up her mug.

“To better prospects and friends Miss King.” We clinked mugs and drank deeply.

I spat mine out all over the counter.

“This stuff is disgusting!”

Jennifer couldn’t stop laughing for twenty minutes.
Time galloped away and soon winter came. It had been a whole year since I left the farm and I still hadn’t found Lisette. She hadn’t ever put her address on the letters she sent to me should Pa want to come and bring her back to the desolate life at the farm. But there was no record of her living here and no record of her ever attending school. I didn’t give up though; I knew that she was here hiding somewhere in the city.

It was the annual awards ceremony for fledgling businesses this evening. I had been given complimentary tickets by the office since nobody else wanted them. I’d been promoted to a news writer; I’d happily said goodbye to the days of writing about fish thieves.

I left work at five on the dot and ran home. I was showered and ready when I looked at the clock. It was six thirty! I was late to give Jennifer my rent! I raced down to the lobby in the hope that I wasn’t too late.
I was rewarded for my tardiness though. Jennifer stood in the lobby dressed up to the nines, looking every bit the star that she was.

“Mr Jay; I think you’ll find that you are late.” She raised an eyebrow at me.

“Miss King; I’m sorry for the delay but it takes a country hick a while to scrub up so well.” I responded cheekily.

Jennifer laughed.

“Are you going to the business gala tonight as well then?” She asked.

“Yep. I don’t know why they invited the most uneducated person in the office but beggars can’t be choosers.”
She laughed once again.

“Mr Jay, I’d never call you uneducated; you have the life experience that so many of us lack.” Her eyes twinkled with kindness and I fell a little more in love with her.

“Have you got a date for this evening Jennifer?” I asked bravely.

“My chaperone cancelled on me last minute, so no I don’t have a ‘date’.” She struggled with the last word a little.

“Would you care to accompany me then?”

“I think that would be very nice Grayson.” And she took my arm.
I’d expected the gala for fledgling business to be an interesting affair, but quite frankly it was the most boring event I’d ever been too. Scooping horse muck at the farm was more entertaining than this. I was on my fourth drink and thoroughly bored by nine o’clock. I was yet to meet anybody from a fledgling business; all the people I’d met so far were high society who didn’t want to converse with a journalist. Jennifer wasn’t fairing up much better. She’d been segregated from me by the high society girls who were giggling and gossiping away in the corner whilst their husbands schmoozed. It soon became apparent that Jennifer was the outcast but couldn’t talk to the business men nor network because she was a woman.

She soon grew bored and left for the balcony.

Not fairing up so well I followed her.
I soon found her on the edge of the balcony, arms wrapped around herself to protect her from the cold.

“I wasn’t expecting it to be this bad. My father often spoke of the sexism in business but I run two successful businesses without male support. I guess I’m just naive.” She admitted to me, tears in her eyes.

“Jennifer King. You are not naive. You are a strong and brave woman with an amazing business head. Every man in there is just a pig!” I said, the drink making me confident.
“You’ve had one too many drinks Grayson Jay.” She scolded, looking sad.

I took her hand.

“I haven’t Jennifer, believe me. I think you’re the most amazing woman I’ve ever met; you’re so beautiful and kind and funny and I think I...”
It was at that moment I looked over the balcony. Below on the empty street stood two figures, one blond woman and one a red headed man. Even from the distance we were away I thought I recognised them. I blanched. It couldn’t be... “Grayson? Grayson? You think what?” Jennifer pushed.

“I have to go. Just wait here, I’ll be back in five minutes!” I said, dropping her hand and running from the balcony.

“Grayson! Grayson Jay get back here!” Jennifer called after me but I didn’t hear her.
The elevator was too slow, and by the time I reached the street the people had gone. I gritted my teeth in exasperation. I could have sworn that it was Ma and Mr Roy.....

I didn’t hear the horn of the taxi as it swung the corner wide.

There was a scream from the sidewalk and it all went black.
Moments later somebody was calling my name. I opened my eyes; it was blurry and distorted.

“Grayson! Gray! Please let me through I know him, he’s my....”

“Ma?...” I whispered gently.

Unconsciousness took me over once more, and it all went black.

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fruitopia VIPAug 11, 2012

Is it really her?

spladoumAug 9, 2012

Oh man, this is just wrenching. I really hope Gray is alright.

fabrizioammolloAug 5, 2012


spitzmagic VIPAug 4, 2012

Could it really be Ma...oh I hope so and I hope that Gray is alright. My goodness what a fantastic chapter. I loved it. Bravo!!! \:rah\:

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