Little Red Riding Hood had gotten lost in the Forrest again. No choice but to ask for directions. She went back to the common room of the Martha Forrest Rest Home and found someone under seventy who was probably staff. No chance they were a visitor.
"Hey!" Little greeted the dead-eyed young woman in the white tunic.
"Awright," she replied. "If you is here on the rob, none of these biddies got nothing."
"Naw!" Little said. "I is looking for me Granny."
The care worker looked at the old women slumped in chairs about the common room. "Dey is all grannies, blood, but I knows you. You pulled Hankle off his moped, yeah?"
Little nodded. "Lil bitch showing me no respect so I did it. He chipped a tooth, right?"
The carer nodded. "For sure." She jerked a thumb at the exit. "Your granny is at her dubya eye meetin'."
"Awright!" Little said. She left the care home and took herself to the hall where the Women's Institute held their gatherings.
As soon as she stepped into the hall an enormous middle-aged woman made a beeline for her. Little recognised her as Nell Danbury, someone her Granny was always droning on about. Mainly complaints. Nell ran the local chapter of the Women's Institute.
"Hello Gina," Nell said. "Here to listen to your grandmother? You'll be wanting to put THAT down."
Reluctantly Little pulled back her red hood. "Listen to Gran, is it?" she asked.
"Yes," Nell said. "She's giving a talk on how they made their own buttons after the war."
Little looked up at the stage and peered closely at the figure behind the trestle table, currently pointing to a slide of what looked like a foil milk bottle top that had been improvised for button work.
"Whoa!" Little said. "Dat is not me Granny, dat is a fecking wolf. Look at his teeth and all. He has proper fangs"
Nell glanced up at Gran and she smiled, shaking her head. "It's her new false teeth, dear. She's still working them in."
"But lookit his face, he is all hairy and that"
Nell frowned. "Sweetie, you'll find out soon enough that after a certain age none of us can afford to neglect the routine maintenance." She rubbed a fingertip over her upper lip and mouthed the word "electrolysis". She winked at Little.
"That is NOT- ow!" Little was startled by someone grabbing her arm. Hard.
"Is this one causing trouble?" The old crone that had Little in her bony grasp was Hettie Booth, Gran's arch-enemy and oldest friend.
"Missus, dis crazy bitch is sayin' dat's me Nan up der, but- ow!"
Hettie gave Little another shake. "That is your Gran up there, and we're all very, very pleased with the changes she's made."
"She's ever so helpful now," Nell added.
"A pleasure to have around," Hettie said. "And if, once in a while, your Granny takes someone out shopping with her, and comes back on her own... it's a price we're prepared to pay."
"Thinning the herd," Nell observed, nodding with a tight smile on her face.
Gran had finished her talk and was coming off the stage towards them. Immediately she caught sight of Little and their eyes locked. Little gritted her teeth.
"I expect you'll be wanting your pocket money, dear," Gran said in a bass rumble. She pulled her purse out, and pressed a crisp five pound note into Little's palm.
Little crunched the note in her hand, then rubbed it. It felt real. She exclaimed, "I love you Granny!" and threw her arms around Big in a hug.
Mmmm, she thought. Furry...