Condo Chronicles: Everything Catches on Fire

Fate and fortune are mischievous incarnations. Yes, hard work and intelligence are essential for any individual’s progress on the road of life…but timing and serendipity are the benevolent gifts of those demigods that can pave the way. Even though the ancient adage Audaces fortunate iuvat may hold true, what truth it does not hint is that they also have a wonderfully bizarre sense of humor. Consult any classical piece (especially those that employ deus ex machina), and you’ll find such a sentiment to be nearly old as time. As known by Sir Francis Bacon or any helmsman of a J24 boat on a windy day, such natural forces are not to be directly challenged; you must endure their torment at your own expense and begrudgingly collaborate with them. On more than one occasion, they have had their way with me, where their machinations have placed me within the context of one of their elaborate pranks. For example, if you even asked me to, I could never intentionally catch a fold of my jacket on the corner of a dumpster, lose my balance to the sudden clash of momentums between torso and legs, and then lacerate my palm upon a broken bottle protruding from the dumpster’s maw. However, such vicissitudes are the punchlines for their capricious whims. Though, do not mistake their amusement for condescension. These apparitions only briefly chuckle while you lie in your shame…but upon the very second that you rise to your feet, their laughter ceases and becomes a smile of avuncular approval. Nevertheless, you can’t escape the inevitability of their plans, and in that particular place and time, all present in my home during this epic battle were unbeknownst to play the victims of such a scheme.

Mayor Dwek, for the moment, became the prime mover for this act as she focused on Bertha with the intensity of a cutting laser. “Against you? I’m actually here in an impartial capacity,” began Her Honor, raising her finger as if to duel with the one wielded by the rambling radical. It was an impressive digit to say the least, one which would have impressed even Arsenio Hall. “But, I’m unclear about something, and maybe you can clarify…what if I were against you? What exactly would that mean for me?”

Having been silent for the last few minutes, Helga and her husband had stood quietly next to my dining room table and its towering cache of plastic-wrapped mediocre edibles. However, I had noticed that her demeanor and posture had become increasingly hostile, and a bellicose tone preempted the answer to the mayor’s question. “Ve vould defy you as one! Her…me…and everyone else! And ve’ll get enough support to oust you vrom office!” Yes, yes…and then you’ll take the White House next, Howard Dean. I’ve never heard more ridiculous political rhetoric with a German accent, except for Hitler and Schwarzenegger…Good luck, Dwek. Man, I’d hate to be the lone voice against this howling mob…

“Shut up, you Nazi bitch! Nobody wants to hear from you or your stupid dogs!” screamed Babbu with a raised middle finger, stepping between the mayor and the frail princess from northern Europe.

Along the wall and opposite Babbu, one of Mayor Dwek’s bodyguards suddenly tensed as he scrutinized the Sikh’s form. “Sir, I’m going to ask that you approach me with your arms raised,” the guard flatly stated while beckoning with his hands. “Is that a holstered knife under your coat? Open the jacket, sir!”

Officer Linares, closest and directly behind his matriarchal client, withdrew his gun and instinctively moved forward to Mayor Dwek, protectively hovering over her like a hawk over a nest full of young. As if that were a cue commonly understood by all, the fellow members of his flock slowly started to glide towards Babbu. “Sir, I’d ask you to comply with the officer’s orders,” commanded Officer Linares. “Please slowly open your jacket…”

Oh no…you might as well have asked him to eat his magic underwear. Now things are gonna get crazy…

“You assholes! This is my kirpan…how many times do I have to go through this shit with you racist bastards?!?” berated a flummoxed Babbu, opening his jacket with the gusto of a flasher in a moonlit park.

Under the door to our closed bedroom, I was temporarily distracted from the surrounding raucous escalation when I noticed a shadow cross its space. Is there someone inside our bedroom? Did one of Bertha’s people sneak into there when nobody was looking? Naked crying lady ghost, that better not be you. This isn’t a good time… My observation was interrupted when reality severed my trance with the sharp edge of Brian’s booming voice.

“…Goddamn it, Helga! You and Bertha have done enough damage! You’re a miserable, indecent person. If your dogs were children, they would be ashamed of having such a terrible mother!”

The miniscule shadow returned to the space under the doorway, staying in place this time. Slowly, a small protrusion found its way through the space, and it curled around the bottom edge in order to find a firm grip. I was reminded suddenly of the movie “Signs”, both due to this frightening image and to the unexpectedly disappointing ending for my meeting. However, my fright swung away upon recognition of the extraterrestial’s alternate identity. Hey, I recognize you… And as if responding in affirmation, the door shook ever so slightly within its frame, gaining the attention of most people near it.

With trained reflexes, Officer Linares pointed his gun in the general direction of the oscillating door. “Who’s in there?!?”

Brian and Helga, though, were not privy to these moments, caught in the Thunderdome of their own enmity towards each other. While Babbu received the attention of the other officers, the boisterous pair were now combatants caught in the grip of their battle, like gladiators in the pit of Rome’s Colosseum. However, they lived for no crowds; they only wanted each other’s blood. Though judging by their respective hues, Brian had an ample amount to wastefully shed, and Helga didn’t seem to need any in order to stay alive (or whatever could be called the physiological state of her being).

“…und how dare you bring up my dogz?!? Zey love me, arschloch!” Helga screamed in the same pitch and bloodlust of her Visigoth ancestors, choosing a hefty Cuban sandwich as her javelin from the pile and pitching it towards Brian’s face. With deft skills unexpected of a such gargantuan centurion, he managed to escape its path, as smoothly as the garlic butter infused within its stack. Bypassing its intended mark, the missile sought something even more opportune, and fate directed it into the trigger guard of Officer Linares’ gun. The gun fired one single shot into our bedroom’s door, and a primal shriek could be heard from just beyond its frame, triggering yet more screams within the living room. Instantly, people began to run for the front door as the panic began to drown all reason in the room, and among the bustling cries, I rushed to our bedroom door with its brand new peephole near the bottom, free of any obstructing decorations for the moment. I carefully opened it, finding a crouched figure that seemed to be submerging itself in its own blood.

“What happened?” cried Rhonda, yelling as she came forward. “Who’s in there?”

Holding the feline member of our small family with tender care, I tried to keep my emotions in check as I shouted back to her. “It’s Flukeman…and he’s been shot!”

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.

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