Madame X, was the old time-worn mother and matron of Grimalkin, and even though her features had been dulled by drink and a string of amphetamine binges in her younger days, there was still a remnant of her former beauty hidden in the sagging features of her flesh. Staring up at her in dumbfounded awe, Claudio and Lucio, stuttered and prostrated themselves even more, in profuse apology for the mess at her door.

Madame X reassured them that there was no trouble and that worse stains had graced her carpet than pig’s blood or whatever she thought they had called the red gunk dripping off of them. She beckoned our two lovelorn clowns into the front parlour of her house where women laid half-naked across couches and inside little curtained crannies all along the wall like great damnless Ophelias and seated across its tiny bar were the most reckless and volatile of their kind inebriated with their happiness, sobered into madness by their despair. Begging the irkswhile and contented eunuch of a barman for just another drink, a savoury drop of forgetfulness on tick that they promise they’ll be good to pay for next week. Yet never will they let their pleadings or their protests become so loud that they might be overheard because she is always watching, always calculating expense and wastage and amounts due, reliable madam and matron of that place – caretaker of the temple of our ruinous and momentary salvation.

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