Babbu and Brian looked at each other and then stared at me in silence. For a brief moment, I thought that my jest about corpses might actually have some merit, and then the joke would be on me. Instead, they both started to chuckle at the insinuation.
I let out a sigh of relief. “You guys had me going there for a second…I thought that we had a murder-suicide here. Or that maybe one of you had decided enough was enough, and you made the executive decision to get rid of them…permanently.”
“No, man,” replied Babbu, still laughing. “No, nobody’s hurt…but that racist piece of shit deserves something like that! People are always messing with Sikhs, but one day, we’ll rise up to assholes like him! And then he’ll be sorry!”
I have always been amused how each banner-waving minority activist, no matter the particular circumstance, deems their own particular suffering as paramount over those of another demographic…and, in doing so, have actually practiced some form of softball bigotry, where the belittlement of another group’s problems are implied rather than explicitly stated. However, if I even dared to chuckle at that moment, I’d have to explain myself, and it’s safe to say that such an explanation would probably go over my compatriot’s turban. So, I bit my lip.
“…He’s lucky that me and my bros weren’t around when he was leaving…because there’s a good chance that we would have fucked him up!” Babbu spat on the floor in vile hatred. My immediate, normal reaction was to dissuade him from spitting in someone’s home…but considering the state of it, he probably had just helped to clean it a little. Again, I bit my lip. “But he’s gone now…whatever. Brian and I met Lisa leaving the building. We talked to her while she put some furniture and shit in her friend’s truck about an hour ago…”
“…And I talked to Mike on the phone just a few minutes ago,” Brian interjected excitedly. “He said that they had one last big fight, and then that was that. It looks like the show’s over.” He looked around somberly. “And it looks like it was one hell of a final act.”
You didn’t need to be here to know what happened: you could sense it. It was written in the gouged walls and scrawls on the floor. It told of the desperation that’s kept in reserve in most of us, but in this case, the walls of the crucible couldn’t possibly prevent the molten maelstrom from breaking its prison. It echoed the spiral of every romantic argument ever witnessed, as one divulged pain of the speaker begat another pain felt by the listener…And then they would switch places and repeat, until there was nothing left but the lonely, aching want of an embrace. Words that are spoken with immediate regret are then reconsidered as valid only a few moments later, and then one tortuously waffles between those stances for then and forever. At that point, though, it’s never possible to reconcile: the hurt and the longing both fill the room like a million inflated balloons. The two people are lost to each other…no matter how hard they cry with profuse apologies, no matter how frantic they stumble, no matter how much they claw the walls and reach out to find that familiar hand they know so well from a million walks together, no matter how much they would give to put things as they were…Their hopeful future and all its wonderful possibilities fall away with their tears, now mixed with a fresh coating of paint that was chosen together only a short time before. These events, it seems, have a way of finding their way to many of us…Or so I’ve been told.
“Well,” I began, “I can’t say that I’m all that surprised…”
Brian held up his hand. “Well, hold on a moment: there’s more. They both left this place…but they left for good.” He waved his hand emphatically for effect. “Like…they’re gone. They both said that they wanted nothing more to do with this place. Bon voyage. Adios. They both wash their hands of it.”
I looked around in confusion. “So…who owns this place now, then?”
“Nobody!” answered Babbu. “Not until the bank forecloses on it…”
I already knew where this was going. “…And that won’t happen for years, if whenever. And when it’s all added up, that’ll be quite a few fee dollars that then never makes it into the building’s coffers.” Though, truth be told, we hadn’t seen Mike’s fees for some time; he had stiffed us ever since the building’s butler (as he had still insisted on calling our super) hadn’t fixed his toilet for him. Despite the repeated explanation that Miguel wasn’t responsible for fixing toilets, it never quite penetrated the buffalo sauce that coated his brain. “Shit…this is a sad story all around.”
Brian let out a deep sigh. “Yeah…it sure is.”
I tilted my head towards the broken windows. “Well…the least we can do is call some guys to repairs those windows or board them up since fall is just around the corner…” I stopped midway through my sentence as I noticed the eccentric twitches of my partners’ faces. “What now?”
“Remember that there was really bad news?” Babbu inquired.
I nodded gravely. “Yeah…and?”
“Well,” Brian lamented, “We can’t exactly repair those windows…or repair the building leaks…or make any decisions that might help the building for now. In fact, you could say that we’re not exactly in charge anymore.” In the midst of speaking, he had reached inside a coat pocket and handed me a folded sheet of paper.
It turned out to be a printed email that had been sent to our property manager Raymond, who had then forwarded it to the three of us. It began simply “Dear Raymond and the Board of Casa de Perros”, and even before reading the letter’s closing by ‘Mr. Squidichi, Esquire’, I could tell from the first few words that it was written by the modest secretary of a novice lawyer.
At the end of the letter, I looked at them in disbelief. “Those motherfuckers.”
Babbu raised his hand to the sky as if summoning the power of Ik Onkar, in order to smite his enemies with his flaming kirpan. “Exactly!”
Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.