Rhonda’s words didn’t register immediately. “You saw who?” I stammered. “Wait…you mean…”
“YES. That one,” she said in predetermination, gesturing with one hand to depart posthaste. “And we better go before she disappears like last time…”
“Somebody texted me about a loud party on the second floor, so I went to check it out,” interjected Miguel. “Turns out someone’s made a mess in the hallway, along with the chamaca. We might need to call the cops…”
“Okay, okay, I’m coming,” I replied, applying restraint to stop myself from running down the stairwell. I knew that I wasn’t crazy! I turned to Donna. “Sorry, Miss Wei. This meeting seems to have come to an end, for more than one reason. You, me, and Pete will continue this conversation another day soon.” And with a slow nod of consent from our saturnine femme fatale, I fled the scene of seemingly lost potential with my new posse. We descended the stairwell in a flurry of stomping shoes: Kenneth Cole, Timberlands, and Cole Haan. In the lead of my investigatory excursion, I flung open the doorway for the second floor’s hallway, and wondering if Mickey Spillane had ever experienced seminal moments like this one, I started to run down the corridor when I noticed my prospect: a nude figure lying on its back in the distance, with its legs pointed in our direction and with its torso trembling slightly. I stopped for a moment, partly in shock and somewhat in disbelief.
I could feel Rhonda’s warm breath on the back of my ear. “There! That’s her!”
It was all the catalyst necessary in order to propel me along, in tandem with my sudden concern for the discordant movements of this supine form. As I jogged down the hallway with my entourage in tow and as we got closer to my coalesced apparition, I started to scrutinize its apparent female figure. Hmmm…she’s much younger than I remember…and though it seems more natural, that blonde hair looks to be more of the dirty kind. Having gotten close enough to note the hot pink color of her toenails, I experienced a sudden sense of relief when I observed that her gyrations were due to an uncontrollable fit of susurrous laughter, likely due to being out of breath. I couldn’t help, though, from suffering pangs of ambivalence: this wasn’t the naked girl who had preoccupied my mind for the past few months, to my disappointment.
“Hmmm…it’s not her. It’s not the girl from the stairwell,” I concluded out loud upon final inspection. In her early twenties, this wheezing girl had a slight emaciation about her. Unlike the contemporary preference for a hardbody from CrossFit training (which, aside from the presence of breasts, always made me question the gender), she appeared to possess no muscular framework at all. Damn, she’s all skin and bone…Well, look at that! After a long hiatus, it seems that the bush is finally making a comeback. Good thing, too…Porn hasn’t been the same since then. Truly, you never know that you miss something until it’s gone. In the midst of laughter and with her eyes closed, she was completely oblivious to the presence of three mystified people who were now standing over her. Her profound exhalations provided us with a clue, though: there’s always a particular bouquet of breath spawning from lungs that are makeshift casks of wine.
“Well, she’s definitely higher than a kite,” Rhonda commented, concurring with my internal assessment of the situation. “What should we do about her?”
“We should call an ambulance for her,” nominated Miguel. “And then we should call the cops on her friends who left her here. And who made this mess.”
At Miguel’s behest and having solved the mystery of the inebriated girl in the hallway, I snapped out of my trance and became aware of my physical surroundings once again, taking note of the new interior design for our second floor. Now, despite appearing to be a cantankerous curmudgeon who must surely be surly from being covered in carbuncles, I have a softer side that appreciates beauty in all its aesthetic variations. For example, I’ve been driven to awe by an outside mural along a bricked wall in Montreal, and on a corner in Manhattan, I’ve experienced a renascent sensation when stumbling upon another thoughtful work by Banksy. Graffiti, in fact, can be a wonderful rendition of art. With a French kind of patronage, I would even endorse the possibility of distributing municipal licenses to graffiti’s avant garde, so that they could attack our mundane streets and sidewalks with their creativity and surround us with their two-dimensional souvenirs of hope. However, after viewing the scrawled mess of spray and paint that now covered the walls and ceiling of our residential tunnel, I could safely say that its creators should never be entrusted with such artistic liberties or be thrown a well-deserved vernissage. Not in a million fuckin’ years. In fact, it might be better to deprive them of eyes and hands, along with other basic human privileges. Cave renderings by Neanderthals had more depth to the inane doodles that now besieged us. Though certain its creator was innocent of plagiarizing ancient bisj poles, only a stick figure with an enormous penis (in the shape of another stick figure) provided me with a momentary chuckle. It was then that I paid attention to the loud howls and ambient music coming from the door marked A6 just a few feet away.
“Which dickfaces live in there?” growled Rhonda.
After being on the board for a few months (and with the assumption that I would remain, depending on the lawsuit’s outcome), I had become more than familiar with this building’s occupants. I had become familiar with the idiosyncrasies of each tenant: their current state of finances, their incessant complaints, their unusual requests, their relations to other units, etc. After a short time of sporting such a mantle, you’re inclined to repeat Dante and develop your own levels of sin for your fellow neighbors, and I was no exception. The owners who feel entitled to more than other owners are terrible people, but worse are the hypocritical owners who feel entitled and don’t pay maintenance fees, the lifeblood of every building’s finances. Below these entitled aristocrats, there are those who bought property on an ARM loan (in the hopes of living their “flip-and-profit” dreams found on the shows of HGTV) and who eventually fall into foreclosure, letting their homes sell cheaply at an auction and lowering the collective value of others’ homes. However, these financially irresponsible dunces do not compare with the absolute worst: the spoiled brat whose home was purchased on their behalf by parents. These parasites and beneficiaries of nepotism treat their home much like their other abused toys. They have obnoxious parties and encourage neighbors to flee, selling at lower prices; they lease out their units through AirBnB without discretion, inviting immature acquaintances to lease while absent and elsewhere around the globe; and everyone in their social circle is given a complete set of keys to the building. Lance, who was a male model by trade and occupied the domicile of A6, fit perfectly on this last level in Pete’s Rings of Hell. As far as I knew, he spent his maintenance fees on obnoxious parties like this one.
“His name is Lance. I know this spoiled little shit all too well,” I grumbled to the other two. “Let me talk to him…”
As luck would have it, he came to me instead, opening the door with an idiotic smile on his face and stepping out into the hallway. Much like his emaciated friend on the floor without clothes, he was a gaunt fellow that towered well over six feet but with a darker tone to his skin. “Aaaammmmmyyyyyyy, where are you?” said Lance, somewhat in the style of sprechgesang. “Where are…”
It was then that he noticed the three angry people in the hallway who were now glaring at him.
Far from sober, his lips comically pursed as if tasting a ripe lemon. “Uhhhhh…uh-oh…”
Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.