Mrs. Cheung

Ruby Prince lived in a five floor walk-up above a Chinese take away, a dry cleaners, and a nail salon that were all owned and operated by a Mr. Cheung and his family. The smell of all three combined was not intended for one with a weak stomach, and Mr. Cheung himself could never get the smell out of his clothes, or washed away from his skin. After years of ancient Chinese remedies, he became accustomed to the odor, and forgot about the permeating stench altogether. Ruby, on the other hand, had never noticed it in the first place, and that was probably a strong indicator as to how she had been able to stay in her apartment for as long as she had.

Mr. Cheung had not been able to keep tenants for very long due to this fact, and had an audible respect for Miss Prince's loyalty to paying him rent. Mrs. Cheung, on the other hand, was fond of Ruby's quietness and the fact that she never brought strange men home with her. Old-fashioned in nature, Mrs. Cheung was known to evict tenants for the slightest discrepencies.

Ruby limped towards her building with strong determination, clutching her bleeding forehead and wiping the mist from her eyes with a sweaty palm. Her appearance had grown far from disheveled, her stockings were gashed open in various places, the seam had split up the front of her skirt, and her blouse was coated in a spray of blood, dirt and bike tracks.

As Ruby fumbled for her keys outside the door to the stairs, Mrs. Cheung came flying out of the nail salon, arms in the air flitting around Ruby like a humming bird. Without waiting for any answers, Mrs. Cheung fired off a series of questions like spray from a machine gun.

"Are you okay? Who did this to you? Were you mugged? Why are you so filthy? Why are you wearing sneakers and skirt? Why are you bleeding?" She paued to take a short breath, and stood, arms akimbo, squinting her eyes at Ruby.

"I was in an accident. A man ran me over with a bike," Ruby explained.

"And you didn't call the police?" Mrs. Cheung said frantically, arms flying in the air once more.

"I'm sure they have more important things to deal with like gang shootings and bank robberies. It's not a big deal. Just a little blood, that's all," Ruby replied.

"Just a little?" Mrs. Cheung spat out, agasht, "You're drenched!"

The End

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