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We had been looking at properties in the High Peak for as long as I could remember. We had been gazumped more than once. This particular Saturday afternoon we went to a property in Furness Vale.

First impressions were good: nice little front garden, solid looking front door complete with stained glass window. A morose looking man with greasy grey hair answered the door and let us in. Inside it felt like stepping off a plane in Spain. A coal fire blazed in the inglenook and a fan on top of the fire circulated the heat throughout the house.

"Nice and warm in here," said my wife.

"Can be," said the man, "bloody draughty though."

He led us into the kitchen. There were lovely fitted units, and plenty of room for the large dining table. "Gets bloody cold in here," he said.

“Can we have a look upstairs?” said my wife.

“Aye. Murder these stairs. But come on.”

“Is it just you here then?” I said, on the way up.

“Yeah, just me. The wife”s under the patio.”

“Two bedrooms or three?” said my wife.

“I”m showing you now. You can count them for yourself if you like.”

“Three,” I said.

“Well, no actually. You”re wrong there,” he said, with something approaching glee. “It”s two and a half. You can”t get a bed in that one.”

“Right.”

We wandered in to the front bedroom. There was a splendid view of the Peak District countryside, with horses on the hillside and jackdaws flying.

“Nice view,” I said.

“It is today. But how many days do we get like this?” he said, running fingers through his greasy grey hair.

As I tried to ignore the sight of clothes on the bedroom floor there was a shocked expletive from my wife. “Don”t go in there,” she said, pointing to the bathroom. “Do not go in there.”

“There”s a nice shower,” I said, looking for positives.

“It really doesn”t matter. We have seen more than enough.”

We hastened down the stairs. When the man opened the front door and gave me a greasy handshake there was a glint in his eye. We passed the FOR SALE sign in the front garden and got in the car. Traffic passed us on Buxton Road and the red 199 pulled up outside The Soldier Dick. “What kind of person would do that?” said my wife, starting the engine. 

This story was written by Neil Campbell, who is from Manchester. He has two collections of short stories, Broken Doll and Pictures From Hopper, published by Salt, and two poetry collections, Birds and Bugsworth Diary, published by Knives Forks and Spoons Press, who have also published his short fiction chapbook, Ekphrasis. Recent stories have appeared in Unthology 6, Stockholm Review and Best British Short Stories 2015. A collection of flash fiction, Fog Lane, is forthcoming from Gumbo Press and his first novel, Sky Hooks, was published by Salt in 2016. Check him out on Twitter @neilcambers.




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