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(A short story of 2824 words)

Cut Back Flat

Humour Literary

by Andy Gaskins

Double the rent or half a flat. Your choice.

‘Bit of building work, Miss. George sent us round.’

George is the landlord, and for a moment I entertain some unlikely concepts. Things like upgrade and home improvement run through my mind, pushing darker thoughts down.
There are two of them, both men obviously. They troop into my flat in a pile up of battered metal boxes and lengths of sawn timber. One is older, in his 50s, sort of lumpy, not fat but fleshy with exaggerated features. His shoulder length hair is slicked back to the point of recession. The other one could be my age, but is probably younger. He has that gaunt look acquired through serious and dedicated smoking, yellow fingers and teeth to match. They are both in white overalls, though the younger one has somehow rolled his down and is wearing them like hipster jeans, an inch of toned stomach between the waistline and his black tee shirt. He grins lopsided when he catches me looking.

They start in the front room with a line drawn down the middle of the bay window. The column of concrete which divides the four panes is struck through in no time, but then the radiator underneath poses a problem, and they are seized by a fit of contemplation. There is a lot of head shaking. Teeth are sucked, pencils gnawed. They unroll a set of plans, consult in mumbles and hisses. More head shaking, loud exhalations through pursed lips. I try to get a look at what’s on the paper, but from my tentative perch on the sofa, the maze of lines bears no resemblance to my mental framing of home...

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A review of Cut Back Flat from the CUT team....

 A wry and imaginative take on the housing crisis in present-day London. As the cost of living is climbing, rents are going up and a landlord is going to new lengths to profit from the property they own. If you happen to be a renter and have access to your own thermostat, you’re one of the lucky ones. A clever and amusing satirical short story about how simply maintaining a roof over your head can come with some unexpected challenges.

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