This Way And That

Jean Valjean turned away as though he had been struck. Walked away, trying to hide the shock on his face. He should have expected it. He should have known that this would be the reaction he would get from people - people who were so many rungs above him on the ladder of class.

A former prisoner, he was lower than the lowest of the low.

He walked towards a small B&B. It was secluded; the nearest shops were a good three minutes walk, though the area was crammed with houses everywhere else. Knocking on the door, he entered cautiously.

"Hello?" The receptionist looked up haughtily.

"I'm sorry, can I help? I don't believe you have a reservation."

"No, I need somewhere to stay." He pulled out his credit card - one of the things that had been returned to him. "My name is Jean Valjean." Valjean held his breath, hoping she had not recognised the name.

"Let me run a quick scan. You get some ... unsavory ... types around here." She tapped something into the computer. Looked up, fear in her eyes. "I'm sorry, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

"What? But I've done nothing - I just want a room!"

"You have a criminal record. Released ... today? I'm sorry, that's not acceptable here. Please leave."

"I've done nothing!"

"Please, sir, leave."

Jean Valjean left the B&B, his tail between his legs. He walked along the street towards a hostel, but when he arrived the story was the same.

"We don't want your type here."

Your type. His type. A man such as him. Jean Valjean was less than a dog now. No one would take him in from the night.

He began to knock on doors, begging for a place to stay. The people of the area, ever suspicious, slammed the doors in his face. They had not lived in such proximity to a prison for so long without become over cautious, and with good reason.

Finally, desperate, Jean Valjean curled up on a bench outside the church, and fell asleep as the clock was striking midnight.

The End

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