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Mr. Viceroy wore a brown suit that was one size too small and a hair piece that was one shade too light. His nose didn’t suit his face. His face didn’t suit his body. He smoked fag after fag, rarely smoking one before lighting the next. He had the questionable profession of solicitor; and even more questionable, he handled probate. “It seems Miss,” Mr. Viceroy began, “that Mr. Tiktok’s will is quite clear in its intentions though somewhat unclear in its legality.” Sophie, knowing little about law, simply cocked her head. “You see, Miss, Mr. Tiktok leaves Number Four Danube Street Flat Four, London SW3 and all possessions

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within to you. However, Mr. Tiktok did not own Number Four Danube Street Flat Four, London SW3 and all its possessions. Number Four Danube Street Flat Four, London SW3 and all its possessions belong to one Mr. Trinity.” “Yes, sir, and Mr. Trinity was my adoptive father, before Mr. Tiktok.” “Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!” A rather immature response, Sophie thought, though she was nonetheless taken aback by this ridiculous outburst. “You mean to tell me that Mr. Trinity was your legal guardian?” “Well, no, not legal per se… I was abandoned here at Number Four Danube Street Flat Four, London SW3 and he took me in.” “That’s the loveliest story I’ve ever heard in my entire life,” he somehow managed to sound so entirely sarcastic and mustered so much thought and effort and emotion into his statement, that he almost, just almost, sounded genuine. He was not: “But the Commonwealth doesn’t care and neither do I.” Sophie pleaded with Mr. Viceroy to show a bit of patience in order for her to sort the matter. She told him that she had no other family, no friends, no place to go. She’d be stranded on the street. She appealed to his sense of decency. But Mr. Viceroy had none. And therefore he spent the first half of her plea picking his nose and the second half sleeping. (Incidentally, whilst he slept, he dreamt of cookie dough and jelly donuts and lollypops and gingerbread men. Such lovely dreams for such an ugly man.) He woke when the door buzzer rang. “Ah! that must be the police,” Mr. Viceroy was like a child on Christmas as he opened the door to a Police Officer. “This officer is here to escort you off the property.” And he laughed, not devilishly, but delightedly as if he’d been tickled. (Incidentally, Mr. Viceroy was being tickled at this moment, as Mr. Viceroy had the perverse habit of tickling himself in front of strangers.) “Since there is no chain of custody from Mr. Trinity to you, Miss, the Crown must claim Number Four Danube Street Flat Four, London SW3 and all its possessions until Her Majesty’s High Court determines otherwise.” And with that Mr. Viceroy lifted his hairpiece as if it were a

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hat and bid Sophie adieu as the Police Officer waited for her to pack her clothes and escort her outside for the first time in sixteen years. He was a menacing sort, this burly Police Officer. Sophie thought his hat looked like a bullet. But it is always possible that looks can be deceiving, and in this case they were. The Police Officer smiled once Mr. Viceroy turned down the next street and greeted Sophie appropriately. “Sorry, luv,” he said most graciously, “’ave to put on the ‘ole appearance ev’ry now ‘n ‘gain. But now ‘at ‘e’s gone. You’ll be in need of a good solicitor, you‘ill. ‘Ate to see a pretty ‘oung thin’ like you on the street.” Of course Sophie didn’t have a solicitor. What a strange idea, she thought, any twenty-one year old having a solicitor, much less herself. She responded courteously, however. “I haven’t a solicitor.” “’Ell you’re in luck, you are. I ‘appen to know not just a solicitor, but a wig, I do. Argues at the Royal Court, ‘e does.” Sophie had to strain to understand him. She was so terribly frightened already, she couldn’t bear to have any more stress on an already strenuous situation. Luckily, the Officer produced a business card that would explain exactly what he had in mind. Sir Joe Pollination / H.M. Barrister. “’E’s a friend of mine, ‘e is. We grew up tog’ther.” Oh no, Sophie thought, she won’t understand the Barrister’s accent either. No! what a silly idea, he must speak clearly, should he not he couldn’t possibly be a Barrister. No judge would understand him. Sophie thanked the Police Officer, and he was kind enough to hail her a cab and assist her with her suitcase. The Officer stepped up to the Cabbie and blabbed off some indiscriminate street name, which by the grace of God and an A to Z, the Cabbie could understand. As Sophie drove off, the scowl returned to the Police Officer’s face and she began to wonder if looks really weren’t deceiving at all and if in fact they predicted the secrets of the soul. But before she had time to contemplate that query, the Cabbie began talking. “Nice day, reckon?” A simple thought. Sophie didn’t respond. Actually, Sophie didn’t even hear it. She was far too busy looking out the window. The cab made its way across the King’s Road toward the Thames and sidled up against the ancient River, snaking its way through London, past the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, towards the Strand. Sophie politely waved to Lord Nelson

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high above the Battle of Trafalgar, as they turned up St. Martin’s Lane into the theatre district and the confused twisting and meandering streets of Covent Garden. Awe is not the right word to describe Sophie’s attitude towards the outside world. For awe requires some sort of awareness of surroundings, some idea (be it basic or not) of what the world is bringing toward you at that given moment. Sophie was too dazed to feel awe. Too confused to be astonished. There was no state of wonder. No inner thought or contemplation. Sophie was in a state of serene shock. Perhaps the best way to understand it is to contemplate whatever horror you can imagine, whatever absolute worst nightmare you can wrap your brain around, and then imagine seeing it happen right before your eyes. And then contemplate whatever magic you can imagine, whatever most wondrous possibility you can wrap your brain around, and then imagine seeing it happen just to the left of the horror. All of Sophie’s fears and all of Sophie’s hopes and dreams were realised in that very cab ride. And she knew life would never be the same. She awoke from these inner terrors and delights with the Cabbie stating boldly, “Twelve quid eighty.” The blank look on Sophie’s face shifted from the outside world to the Cabbie. “Don’t you speak English?” And it was then Sophie realised he was talking to her. “Of course,” she said, “we’re in England.” The Cabbie raised an eyebrow and repeated, “Twelve quid eighty.” When it became clear to him that the girl didn’t understand, he rephrased, “Twelve pounds eighty pence.” But it still didn’t seem to register. “Money, you know?” Sophie’s look didn’t shift causing the Cabbie to believe she still didn’t understand. Sophie did, however, she fully understood now. And the look on her face changed from the look of horror/wonder to the look of panic, though to the naked eye the difference would never be noticed. “You do have money, don’t you?” Sophie did not. The Cabbie went red. He looks constipated, Sophie thought. She was right, the Cabbie was constipated, he hadn’t had a constitutional in just under a week and though usually a pleasant man, one could understand why any mishap could cause him great rage. His scream was unusually loud and often would reach pitches so high that whilst his mouth continued moving, his

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words were silent. Sophie wasn’t sure what to do. “Shall I get out?” She asked him as gently and politely as she could. He didn’t address her question however. He had one of his own. “What’s in that bag of yours?” “Everything I own.” “Surely that’s worth twelve pounds eighty.” “Surely it’s worth more,” Sophie retorted. But such defiance was not rewarded by this most brutish man. He was very fat, just a stone under obese, and considerable force was exerted as he pried himself out of the cab. And then as fast as lightning, he hauled Sophie out, plopping her down on the sidewalk. Sophie thought to herself, how could such a fat man move so quickly? But before the question was answered, before the question was even asked, he had driven off. What’s worse, he had driven off with her suitcase and everything she ever owned. At least though, she had reached the solicitor.

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