Part Two

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For the first three months there was no sign that anyone else besides the newcomer lived in the house, save for the bill that came on the first day of each month. On this day, a little slip of paper, of the same make as the advertisement and welcome note, would be on the floor just in front of his bedroom door when he woke up. This he would meet as requested by leaving his rent money in an envelope (which was always waiting for him on the side table by the front door on such a morning) and by the time he returned home from work, the table would be empty, and no more correspondence would be had until the next month's rent was due. So, we come around to the beginning of our story. The fourth tenant lived like this, more-or-less contentedly, and did not think to ponder the peculiarity of his situation until one morning, after an unhappy meeting at work.

"Alright ladies and gentlemen!" began the school's principal in that overly-conspiratorial way of school principals who have never made an effort to get to know their staff, yet treat them like childhood friends with whom mischief was wrought. This they do only when they want some sort of favour at year-end meetings. This principal was a stout, grubby-looking man with thick fingers and a fat caterpillar of hair perched upon his upper lip that wriggled around whenever he spoke. The various members of staff looked around subtly enough to be noticed by their colleagues and were noticed just enough by colleagues and principal alike to be awkward. The newest member of staff, our tenant, had no such alliances with whom to share overtly secret glances, and so stared the principal, sheepishly, in the face. Seizing his opportunity, the man lifted a stubby finger to point delightedly and, the tenant thought, somewhat victoriously at the poor, unallied man. "You there! Errr... math teacher was it?" The object of that accusation cringed. "Art tutor", he corrected. "Yes, yes, exactly!" the principal chuckled and, as he did, held his belly in such a way that for one grotesque moment he looked like a boozing Father Christmas.

"Well sir, you are new here aren't you?" The art tutor felt like he was being herded but could see no way of escaping what he couldn't see. The glint in his questioner's eye said that he knew the tutor was already conquered. The rest was just for show. "Well... I have been here a few months-"
"A few months! Barely half a year am I right?"
The tenant sighed "Yes, that's correct"
"Well well", the caterpillar man began, a smug smile tugging at his (what could be seen of them) lips. "You have been here almost half a year", he paused there for dramatic effect and sent his gaze over the rest of his staff before continuing, "and have not yet received your initiation! We can't let him get away with that eh?" His eyes swept once more over the now puzzled room and so did the art tutor's. The expressions that greeted them were such that the tenant guessed there had never been such a thing before. Even so, they slowly began nodding and one or two even smiled in relief. The principal waited until everyone understood his drift- though the art tutor still did not- then clapped two thunderous palms together and boomed: "Marvellous! That settles it then; our year-end function will be at the new-bee's house!" The staff room cheered and began to get up from their seats as if the matter was quite settled. Naturally, our tenant began his objections immediately, but the sounds were drowned out by the bavarderie of his - he looked at them as if it were his first meeting and settled on the word loathsome - colleagues.

All the rest of that week, they dropped hints about the kind of theme they would prefer or the type of wine that they like. He tried in vain to point out to them that he had no intention of hosting a party, that he was sure the principal would heed his objections and that, anyway, it would be a breach of contract to even dream of doing such a thing. To this they merely chuckled, winked at him and said something along the lines of "you won't get out of your initiation (they added a conspiratorial drawl to the word each time which eventually confirmed the tenant's suspicions that it was a thing created for him alone) that easily!" and strolled away before he could emphasise the sincerity of his refusal. That night, when he got home, he decided that he would have to take up the issue with his fellow tenants. Unsure of how to attempt the expressly forbidden communication, he sought out his lease agreement for clarification. The rule was unambiguous. He was not to even try meeting with any of his housemates, lest he forego his own tenancy.

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