A reluctant landlady leaves feedback for the travellers who stay in her home. This week: dealing with a malevolent drunk
I’d never been scared before by any of my guests, or their behaviour, not really. But when Val arrived, I was. My first instinct was to turn her away, but how could I do that? Her verifications checked out, her money was paid, and what was a 72-year-old woman going to do anyway? My first glimpse of her was when she staggered up the stairs towards the front door. A small, frail woman in a grubby sheepskin coat that was too big for her. She had matted hair and was clearly drunk. My heart sank and I knew I was in for a world of trouble.
I made her some coffee, which she waved away with a nicotine-stained hand. In a posh, gravelly voice that had seen years of 40-a-day, she said: “Don’t drink that shit. Where can I smoke?” I showed her on to the windswept terrace, and watched as she tried for 10 minutes to light a cigarette. When she came in, I asked her if she had plans for the days she had booked here. She gave me a malevolent stare and hissed: “Plans? Plans? I just go where life takes me.”
That night she went out, and I was very unhappy about handing over the keys, but felt powerless not to do so. She had arrived here in one piece from far away with a couple of train changes, but I was scared of her erratic behaviour, scared of her drinking and scared for her. I was right to be.
The following morning I was making tea in my kitchen and turned at a noise, expecting to see Val. But no – a fully dressed man, about 45, was standing in the kitchen. He had a weather-beaten face and was wearing heavy boots and a parka. He pushed past me and slammed through the front door. I realised he had come from Val’s room, and saw the door was ajar.
Val was naked with the remnants of the red cooking wine that I keep in the kitchen splashed over her, the bed and floor. For one terrible moment, I thought it was blood.
We then had an awful hour where I asked her to leave, and booked her into a hotel in the city centre. She became more and more abusive. The only light note was that she sang Edith Piaf at the top of her voice. It ended with me calling a neighbour for help and spending half a day scrubbing her room and boiling the linen. Always go with your first instinct, I suppose.
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