TITLE: Oliver and the Underlings
GENRE: MG Fantasy
Oliver Bradshaw stared out the window of the rental car as his mother pulled into a parking lot next to a faded red Colonial house. The top floor overshot the bottom floor in the front, making the building look like it had an overbite. A sign reading "Fred's Variety" dangled like a loose tooth from the overhang.
"Why are we here?" Oliver asked.
"To see about an apartment."
Oliver looked up at the second floor again.
"I was afraid you were going to say that."
"Fully furnished apartments are hard to comeby."
His mother had a point. They really didn't have any furniture. How could they when they'd moved three times in the last five years?
The landlord, a tall, wiry man with silver hair growing in a half circle around the back of his head, met them under the sign. He handed Oliver's mother a stack of papers. The name on the top page was "Joseph Shoute". In his head, Oliver called him "Mr. Shout", but the man said, "My name is Mr. Shoute," pronouncing it "shoot" instead. "I'm the landlord."
"Excuse me Mr. Shout," Oliver said, "I mean, Shoute, but the sign says Fred's Variety. Where's Fred?"
Mr. Shoute's blue eyes narrowed. Oliver noticed they were the same murky color as the ocean water he and his mother had passed as they drove up the coast of Connecticut and into Rhode Island. "Fred's dead. If there are no more questions, I can show you the apartment upstairs."