'But where is it?' she asked, turning to look up at me.
'Er, it had woodworm,' I lied. 'So I had to throw it out.' She stood staring at the red replacement sofa I'd hauled up the stairs some years earlier, a hand-me-down off a neighbour.
My landlady was tiny and frail, and so like my own dearly-departed grandmother that I just wanted to hug her. I wasn't sure who was older - Gloria or the cast-out sofa. But I loved this lady, and I just couldn't hurt her by saying I'd thrown it out because it was ugly and about as comfortable as lying on a hoover. Even the charity collectors had looked shocked when they came to collect it.
'Er, sorry, we don't do sofas...' was all they could mutter as they quickly backed out of the door. And so it had been tossed out onto the pavement for the council to collect and burn - or donate to a museum.
'But it was new,' she said, befuddled. I stared up at the tapestry-thingy I'd hoovered and returned to its pride of place on the wall above the sofa. I registered that I still had to clean the spot under the bed where it had been hidden for the last five years.
'No Gloria, not new. Second hand, like the fridge.' Shit, I shouldn't have mentioned the fridge. They did take the fridge away, at least that worked. Constantly.
'Is the fridge here, or did that have woodworm too?' she asked, concern etched all over her face.
'No Gloria,' I said, taking some comfort in the knowledge that I wasn't lying to her again, 'the fridge was so old it couldn't keep up with global-warming. It was on maximum power, permanently, and nothing came out of it even slightly cold. It was a health risk love.'
'Oh dear, you should have said. I could have bought you a new one!'
No Gloria, you wouldn't have. You'd have gone straight back to that second-hand shop where you bought the sofa from. And the washing-machine. Oh God the washing-machine...
'Gloria, you should stay away from that shop.'
'Why dear? The young man is so nice to me.'
Because you are old and gullible with money to spend. 'Because, Gloria, for what they charge you you could buy new appliances, seriously.' The look on her face said she doubted me. 'Don't worry about the fridge, I got a newer one for you from my friend. For free.'
I wanted to hug her and help her. But I couldn't, it'd seem too forward for my landlady. And old ladies can't be told anything, can they? So I decided there and then to pay a visit to that shop before I leave town, preferably very late at night.
'Where exactly is this shop Gloria?'