Marlon MacFarlane looked up at Gretl Falber, dressed as a rainbow, and the silence stretched to the extent that Hermione Brown wondered if he had taken root, so arboreal was he—silent, unmoving—and, although loath to intrude, she felt herself growing hysterical, with absurd scenarios running helter-pelter through her mind: MacFarlane was not the new Chieftain, but a ben-feaker who had murdered the true heir and assumed his identity, a counterfeit baronet; he was a homicidal paranoid schizophrenic who would pull out a samurai sword and slay Mrs Falber and then herself before turning himself into the police with the claim that he was being persecuted by these two intrusive women casting aspersions on his family and character; Marlon was actually Gretl's love-child from a youthful fling with David Bowie and he had traced her and come to live in the same block to put emotional—and perhaps financial—pressure on the birth-mother who had abandoned him to a life of misery, Dickensian orphanages, abusive foster-parents, then adoption by a couple of paedophiles who rented him out to their perverted circle of friends; he was a drug-pusher who used his busking act as a cover and he couldn't take his shoe off because a few thousand pounds-worth of crack would give him away to these two busy-bodies - the one confronting him and the other who had followed him—the Cagney and Lacey of Tooting Bec; then Marlon shrugged, knelt on one knee and untied the laces of the offending shoe, took the bag which Mrs Falber still held out to him, stood up, said: "natch," and walked past her and into the entrance lobby; Gretl looked at Hermione with raised eyebrows: "was I right, or was I right? he looked set to just tramp straight in, trailing that filthy stuff across the carpet and up the stairs," and Hermione nodded: "yes, dear, I think you were, I don't know if he was aware of it, or didn't care, but he had no intention of stopping - perhaps I should have spoken up when he stepped in it. . . . ." but Mrs Falber put up her hand again, this time to stop Hermione from speaking: "you saw it happen and from you no word? you followed him and were letting it happen? him, okay, he's a schmuck, but you? from you I would have expected better, oy yoy oy, this world, I don't know where I am any more!" and with that, she turned on her heel, went back inside, letting the front door slam in Hermione's face and when she pushed it open the lobby was empty.