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Loneliness Takes a Licking
(a bedtime story for big kids with better things to do)
These apartment lobbies never cease to amaze me. Arranged as if people might actually gather in here. An uncomfortable chair there, far too far away from the ugly unmatched couch over here. A French Regal knock off of a coffee table in-between; so ill spaced it would take even the tallest of someones a hearty lean n' lurch inwards just to reach someone's now getting too cold cup of coffee... A bank of four elevators, none yet on the ground floor. A small wait as I fixed on an idea of just what it was I'd get up to. That old man with the deeply distinctive Canadian radio voice may have led me here, but he didn't leave me a clue as to what I might do. On into the elevator, the one second from the left... no thirteenth floor, we'll head on up to fourteen, meh, it's all just the same... each floor upon floor upon floor and on upwards, all just the same as this mis-numbered thirteenth.
As I stepped off the elevator, feet firmly planted onto a well trampled down overly vacuumed still dirt laden body-oil n' sweat stained old carpet; with a pattern so ridiculous I won't bother to describe it. All at once taken aback by the far too familiarly spiced-pungent smell of poorly prepared ethnic cooking. A wretched smell with no specific geography, just for certain not from anywhere remotely near here. I went left down the hallway, the numbers shrinking down in my direction, growing back up to the left. At the end of the hall I found a door not locked but unopened. Why not, I was here, so I went on inside.
A spartan arrangement of more mismatched furnishings. Too stuffed couches and a recliner propped upright right in front of the TV... It was on, with volume turned down, I didn't recognize the show it was airing. I wandered around what little there was to wander around in. A peek out the balcony window, the bedroom strewn with a least a week's worth of unwashed clothing. An odor, faint at first seemed to swell as I approached what was likely the bathroom. I braced myself for forest greens or flamingo pinks and an un-flushed and stained stinky toilet.
Of course I was obviously a little surprised to find that old hag Mrs. Brown faced down on the, oddly enough bone white tiled floor. Her bluing hair matted in a clot of blood that had circled her head as if it was just a bit frightened to ooze out much further. A naked lump of a lady in a quite unlady-like arrangement; feet bent up backwards, dangling inside the bathtub. The torn off the rod shower curtain clutched in her now cold n' stiff wee little wrinkled old hand. No foul play. Just a sad slip and one less lonely old lady waits, getting colder, for some long lost uncaring family member to notice she hadn't called to complain for a few too many more days than as per usual... I let her be. First closing the slit of a lightless bathroom window so that the stench of her death might leak more quickly into and mix with the odor of the ill prepared ethnic cooking down the hallway. Someone would notice soon enough I figured as, I had, twice before.
Down at the other end of this hallway the Baxters were at it again. He'd started drinking for the very last time again early that morning. Mrs. Baxter's tears of enragement swelling up as she told him at the top of her lungs this was it, for the very last time... all over again like the last time. I had an immediate and eerie premonition that we'd be reading of Baxter's well timed and well planned in advance suicide in the morning papers one evening later that week. Above the Baxters ol' Ralph Simmons was having an uneasy sleep in his easy chair in front of a TV that hadn't worked properly for ages. Next door, apartment 15B, the sweet-hearted Mistress Patricia, the building's Dominatrix was turning most likely her 1000th trick; "NO SEX" claimed her advertisement. Apparently that was just to ensure guaranteed and regular insertion on the back pages of the local entertainment weekly. I guess someone somewhere still lives up to some standard through even all this... somehow they do it.
The elevator bell dinged to let off some people; signalling the right time to duck into the stairwell. I'd rather I'd not had been seen wandering around all alone here in these hallways. The next best thought to go through my mind was to head for the rooftop to see if this lonely old dump of a place filled with lonely dumpy old people would afford me a view. Brilliant as I found no lock nor alarm, so in a breeze I was outdoors again, in utter relief just to breathe. I'd felt no sadness having seen the old hag Mrs Brown faced down in her final un-lady-like posture; nor any anxious anxiety having listened to the Baxter's have at it again. I just wanted out of here and into some fresher air on this very cold winter's evening... heading towards the edge of the building to have a good look, without even thinking I took one giant lurch of a leap up and over the...
As I drifted on upwards, the dump of a place shrunk before me in perspective against the snow covered mound upon which it uneasily rested. I was surprised not to find it nestled into a more likely clump, or is it cluster, of developer-densified, un-stylishly cheap-assed lower middle class highrise housing apartment might be situated in the projects... It stood there all by its lonesome, totally on it's own; on it's perch on the bald of this barron rounded mound. No other buildings, no strip mall nor plaza nor another split level ranch style house within miles in either direction.
Off in the distance the sights and sounds of three bright n' shiny well washed firetrucks racing toward the place caught my attention. Growing louder now and with an urgent official like vigor, they pulled up alongside this crummy old apartment. The reddest of red fire engine paint jobs glistened alongside the all day with nothing better to do polished chrome. Washed wiped n' waxed to the point where one could barely stand to stare into it, lest catch a glimpse of themselves they'd rather not see. A burly gruff of a well uniformed fireman stepped out of the first truck walking more slowly than one might have expected. He looked at the plaque bearing numbers indicating the address above the outside glass double doorway that lead to the vestibule too full of apartment buzzing buttons. With a turn to his mates, a nod in agreement, he pulled out a match, struck it and lit the shit-hole on fire. It went up like a light, like a late summer's Lower East Side tinder-box ghetto disaster n' poof... it was gone. That lonely dump of a place, dumped full of lonely people with so little left to do they'd stopped doing anything at all ages ago... It was gone in a flash puff of odorless smoke and good riddance. Except for Mr. Baxter not a single one of those sad lonely souls survived it... of course they'd all lost their battle to live to that loneliness in that lonely building oh so many long years ago...