Link to PDF:
Monstrous Agonies E14S01 Transcript
[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]
Monstrous Agonies: Episode Fourteen.
[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through static, a voice saying, “-they started-”, classical music, a voice saying “-part-time worker, or a stay-”, pop music and static before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]
-dreamcrossed twilight, or local supermarket.
It's time for our weekly advice segment, where I answer questions from the community about all aspects of liminal life.
Before we begin tonight, I feel I should give some warning as to the nature of our first letter. It comes from a member of a community whom I would not, under normal circumstances, allow such a platform. They are, as a whole, a group of unprincipled reprobates and degenerates, a scourge on society, and not to be spoken of in polite company.
And yet. They have written to me in need, and I must answer. Forgive me. I must do my duty.
The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)
Please, hear me out. I know my kind aren't particularly welcome here. And I understand, we've got a lot to answer for. But I need help, and I just don't where else to go.
I suppose I should just come out and say it. Like ripping off a plaster. I... I'm a landlord. I'm not proud of it but there it is. It's what I am.
Please don't throw this letter out. I swear, I'm not like other landlords! It's just a bit of extra income. I have a real job too! And everything else, I accept tenants on housing benefits and I keep the rent down and I let them decorate how they like and have pets and...
I'm... I'm doing my best, OK?
I suppose if you've got this far, I should get on with telling you the problem. It's about a tenant. Obviously. It's not like I'd admit to being... that, if I didn't have to.
He's one year into a three year lease, and it's been fine all year. We'd had a bit of bother when he first moved in, neighbours complaining about the noise – the sound of waves against a hull, the creak of straining ropes, the clang of a ship's bell marking the hours for ears that can no longer hear. We settled it all pretty quickly – just reminded to keep it to a minimum and be sure to stay quiet after about 10pm.
He's a really nice guy. From Cornwall originally, I think, or Devon maybe. Lovely accent. Perhaps in other circumstances we could have been friends... But I've made my bed and now I have to lie in it. Landlord I am and landlord I must be.
But, well. The thing is, he's a very... moist... young man. And the place is properly ventilated and not too difficult to heat and all that stuff. And yet, there is damp.
I was doing my annual inspection when I saw it. Well. Smelled it, at first. That lingering, edge of the nostril tang. But when I checked the usual suspects – around the windows and so on – there was no sign. And, while I'd usually expect the bathroom or kitchen to be the worst offenders, they were pristine. Untouched, almost. I couldn't work where the smell was coming from. And then I got to his bedroom.
His, um... Bed? I suppose? Must have been a bed. It was in the bedroom. It was pushed against one wall, and all around it, spreading out like blood poisoning from a wound, these black, dripping tendrils, crawling over the walls and the floor...
The wallpaper's a write-off, anyway. As for the bed itself... I don't even know where you would get that much seaweed, he must have ordered it in from somewhere. Unless he generates it himself? Is that a thing?
Needless to say, I think he picked up on my... dismay. He tried to explain, but as soon as he opened his mouth, it started streaming seawater as if from nowhere, which just sort of underscored the issue, rather.
I told him I needed a bit of time to think. This is, unfortunately, a pretty clear breach of contract. But at the same time, when I got the place I knew I wanted to rent it out to people who needed it. That's why I accept housing benefits. And I just feel like this poor guy's going to get pinged from house to house at this rate.
I don't want to kick him out. That's the long and short of it. But I can't let my property sit and get rotted through from the inside out. Is there a solution here? Preferably one that doesn't involve me having to remortgage just to pay for the renovations.
The Presenter (as themselves)
Well, listener. I have to confess, it sounds like you are doing your best. For a landlord.
I rather your tenant's secrecy about the effect he has on his environment was borne of the fear that comes from a lack of stability. The choice was whether to lie to you by omission, and secure somewhere to live for at least as long as he could keep you out of the bedroom, or tell you up front and risk being turned down flat. Not an unreasonable assumption. I'm sure you don't need me to remind you what sort of reputation your kind has earned itself.
Consider this an opportunity to be better than most. You say you're not like other landlords – prove it. Talk to you tenant. Find out precisely what his needs are. From there you can work out what practical steps you are able to take, if any.
It may be as simple as installing a wet room for him to sleep in, or some kind of interior cladding. I understand this will go against your natural inclination to prefer profit over people. Try to push through.
You might even consider offering a longer contract, giving him some much-needed stability and you a sense that your investment was worthwhile. Even if a compromise is impossible, it would at least be a breath of fresh air to have an honest conversation with one of you, for once.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
The Nightfolk Network, on 131.3FM. Don't touch that dial.
[End background music]
Next, a listener concerned about their boyfriend's immature behaviour.
The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)
Me and my boyfriend met at uni, but we didn't get together until after graduation – though he asked me plenty of times. He just had a lot of growing up to do. One of those boys whose mum doted on him as a kid, so he never had to do anything around the house or clean up after himself.
I told him, come back when you want a boyfriend, not a maid. He got a bit grumpy about it, complaining that [mockingly] he likes his house to smell like him, and bleach hurts his nose, and the hoover's too scary. I pointed out that his parents manage to keep a perfectly clean house, and his sisters, and everyone else in his genus I've ever met.
And I guess he thought I made a good point. Or just really wanted to sleep with me. He stocked up on scent-free cleaning products, got his big sister to show him the ropes. He did try to pass it off as a romantic gesture but again, I put my foot down. I said if we were going to be together, he mustn't be thinking getting the fur out of the drain is some kind of special treat.
We moved in together last summer. It's been fine. I guess. It's been really, really great! It's like living with your best friend who get to see all the time but also, you get to kiss them! And the house is nice, he's been as good as his word. He's even learning to cook things that aren't, you know, rare steak.
But. Of course there's a but. We went to my parents' for Christmas and my mum gave me a pair of slippers. Lovely, cosy sheepskin slippers. And I left them there by accident. Or so I thought. I emailed Mum asking her to post them on to me and she said she hadn't seen them.
I found them shoved into the cupboard behind where we keep the hoover, chewed to bit. He never goes in there – he still doesn't like the hoover – so he must have thought I wouldn't either.
I know exactly what happened. He chews when he's anxious, and I guess it was a perfect storm of feeling stressed about Christmas and about being with my family and the temptation of a pair of hand-made sheepskin slippers was just too much to resist.
I put them back, thinking maybe he'd tell me when he was ready. But he just... didn't. And I went back to see if they were still there, and they're worse than they were before! I know what he's been doing. He's been sneaking in and having a good chew whenever he's feeling stressed, and of course knowing him, he feels so horrible about it, it just makes him feel worse.
It's not about the slippers. It's a bit about the slippers. But it's mostly that he lied about it. It's just so childish! I know if I bring up he'll apologise and spend a week or so mooching about with his tail between his legs, trying to make it up to me.
I mean, yes, I want him to buy me a new pair, obviously. But am I being daft for feeling like this is indicative of a bigger problem? This kind of immaturity, I mean. I thought he'd grown up. I love him. I just want to bounce his big, handsome head off a wall sometimes. How should I approach this?
The Presenter (as themselves)
Listener, I think it's very fair of you to interpret this behaviour as a sign he may not have matured quite as much as you would have hoped. But I don't think it's the huge red flag you might be interpreting it as.
It's very common for people under stress to find themselves reverting back to behaviours they learnt as children, whether they stand by those behaviours or not. That seems to be what your boyfriend is doing here.
He was already anxious, and in his anxiety he did something extremely inconsiderate. And then it seems his child-brain kicked in, shying away from the inevitable conflict that his actions would cause. It didn't bring out the best in him, it's true, but it doesn't undermine his previous efforts to be the adult you need him to be.
Maturity is not a single event. You don't turn 18, or 21, or 40, or 50, a hundred, and suddenly have the ability to take every stressful, difficult situation in your stride. Nobody gets it right all the time. What matters is how you deal with it when you make a misstep. That's something he clearly still has to learn.
Causing some degree of hurt to the ones we love is sadly unavoidable. Even at our best and most careful, there will always be things we shouldn't have said or that we shouldn't have said quite like that. And, really – who is always at their best and most careful?
Your boyfriend needs to know that, when he makes these mistakes, he's not going to get in trouble. You're not going to stop his pocket money or tell him off. You're going to treat him like a grown up – with dignity, and respect, and with an expectation that he will do the same to you.
Talk to him. Be honest, but try to stay calm. Being angry is perfectly fine, but losing your temper will only exacerbate the issue. Let him know how and why his actions have hurt you, and tell him clearly what you need from him to heal that hurt – an apology and a new pair of slippers springs to mind. The rest is up to him.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
The Nightfolk Network – brought to you in association with Frazer, Campbell and Lang, the creature community's oldest legal firm. Frazer, Campbell and Lang - we've seen it all before.
[End background music]
Next tonight, we're talking architecture. What is it? What does it mean? Why is here? What does it want? Who let it happen? How do we stop it?
[The Presenter's voice fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-being storm-tossed on the ocean-”, classical music, a voice saying “-Pelosi's nameplate-” and rap music before fading out.
Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]
Episode Fourteen of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.
To submit your own letters and suggestions, head over to our website at MonstrousAgonies.co.uk, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find us on Tumblr at Monstrous Agonies.
If you'd like to support the programme, head over to patreon.com/monstrousagonies, where you can pledge as little as £1 a month. You can also show your support by rating and reviewing us on iTunes, and sharing the programme with your friends and familiars.
This podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The theme tune is Dakota by Unheard Music Concepts.
Thanks for listening, and remember - the real monsters are the friends we made on the way.
[Fade to silence]