Foreword:

Maddy is dear to my heart. I thought that if any of my stories are worth revising, this one is. I am rewriting all of the Maddy stories into one work, one novel. I will make changes that I hope will make it better. I greatly appreciate your help in this process. Any comments that you can give me, critical or supportive, will make it more likely for me to finish this work. The Maddy saga stands at 120,000 words. I hope to make it a little shorter, a little more compact and a little more biting. Hopefully at the end, it will be something that we both can love. I begin with a quote from Neil Gaiman.

"On your second draft, you buttress the stuff that makes that theme work. You chip away at anything that detracts or distracts from it. Also, you try and read it for the first time, pretending you are a reader. You fix anything that would irritate you-as-a-reader. You write the bit you were sure you could skip as a writer, but you-as-a-reader wants to see. You trim the bits where you-as-a-reader found yourself wanting to skip, or wishing the author would just get on with it. You make it better."

Neil Gaiman

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Homeless Maddy

They say if you sit at the right spot in London at the right time of day, you may meet the rich guy in the black coat and make some money. He'll ask you to do some simple job or find out some information and then slip you the notes. Sometimes it's twenty pounds, sometimes fifty. Someone once made two hundred pounds for finding a green camera bag thrown away in a bin.

Maddy can use a little money today, so she sits at the corner even though she thinks that meeting this guy is about as likely as meeting Santa Claus. Maddy needs the money because she spent most of hers the day before, and the pack of biscuits that she had saved for dinner is over half gone. She isn't completely broke, not yet. She has some money in her pocket, but it's the kind that jingles, not the kind that folds.

She has almost decided to give up and look in the bin behind the Chinese restaurant for some day old dumplings when she sees him, a tall man with curly black hair striding down the sidewalk. At first she thinks that he will pass her by like everyone else on the street, trying so hard not to see her too-thin arms, tattered shoes, and worn clothing, but he walks over and sits down beside her, staring at her with a glare that makes her begin to believe that she isn't actually invisible.

"Hello," he says. "What is your name?"

"Maddy," she says. "You are that man, aren't you. The rich man in the black coat?"

"I'm not rich," he says, "but I am richer than you. Do you think that you could help me, Maddy? I'll pay you."

"Okay, but I'm not sellin' nothing. I don't sell drugs or my body if that's what you need, and I don't hurt no one, but I could use some cash, yeah."

"I'm glad to hear that you have some convictions, but I could tell that by your necklace and your right glove. Here," he says handing her a fifty pound note wrapped around a scrap of paper. "Report back to me at 221B Baker Street. Find this, and there may be more work for you later."

The man stands and glides down the walk. He raises his hand to stop a car and escapes in a taxi. For someone like Maddy, that is as mythical an exit as any sleigh pulled by reindeer. She looks at the note. It looks real enough, and fifty pounds means a good dinner and a warm place to sleep tonight. The scrap of paper reads:

White rain boots, Slippery Joe's sausages, and a pair of brown haired dogs (beagles) all on the same street.

It is the weirdest list that Maddy has ever seen, but for fifty pounds she'll find it, even if it takes her all night.