Outsiders also had to be wary of Gossips in the Snook, who saw what they want to see and heard what they want to hear. Being third class was a tricky existence. It was best to keep their heads down and only talk to those of the same standing. But not all were so cautious. One afternoon, a young Outsider strolled along a walkway toward the High Street. He saw a couple of women, did a cheery wave and said, “Hello, nice day isn’t it?”
But those women were Gossips. Worse still, they were senior Gossips, more than proficient in word twisting and lies. Without returning a greeting, they fixed deceitful eyes on their prey. The boy not only had the temerity to speak to them, but he smiled. They grimaced squirmy expressions. As the boy sauntered away, happy as can be, the women quivered at the encounter. It was almost beyond belief that an Outsider had interacted with them. They huddled up.
Mrs Snoops covered her mouth. “That was unbelievable.”
“Oh, I agree… it was a bit forward. Aggressive even. Did you see his arm?” Mrs Snipes colluded.
Mrs Snoops nodded. “Oooo, it made me flinch. I was in fear of my life. I’ll need a maxi vanilla muckiato with cream dollops to get over it,” she wittered.
In Chit-Chats, next door to Gnoshers, a full-blown Gossip meeting convened. The incident was re-hashed over steamy drinks until the harmless encounter became sinister. Following hours of babble and gabble, the greeting had been distorted out of all proportion.
“Did you hear what happened?” one Gossip whispered to another later in the day.
“Oh, yes, a little tyke ran up to Mrs Snoops and Mrs Snipes, shouting ‘What are you looking at?’”
“That wasn’t all. It was with a wave of the fist. Assault, that’s what I’d call it. The Snook is such a lovely place. We shouldn’t have to put up with that sort of behaviour.”
Outsiders watched their backs as there was always someone ready to look down at them or spread rumours. It was uncomfortable existence. So long as they kept themselves to themselves, life was still bearable. But, for the unsuspecting Nobody family, conflict was looming.
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