Welcome to the fifth of twenty six stories during the month of April
Welcome to… The Apartment Building
Patty would not give a straight answer even to the Pope, even if he were to ever visit her domain, Swan Rise Apartments. That being unlikely, Patty lied, hornswoggled, obfuscated, mislead, and evaded answering even the simplest question. She was Olympian in her confounding ways, as if she would run around the Seven Hills of Rome seven times before she’d even come close to a reply with even the most remote connection to what was asked. Patty rambled, went off on tangents, and you walked away from an encounter with her wanting a fast acting liquid gel capsule to rid yourself of the shooting headache pain.
Was it any wonder, then, that Patty became the head of the Tenants Committee?
Patty ruled with an iron glove. Improvements were made, and grievances were assuaged, but most wound up to have a benefit for Patty. If there was none, it was unlikely a problem would be solved.
Others in the building would try to confront her, but by the end of their conflagration the most just walked back to their apartments and locked the door. Some left, never to be heard from again.
Her second in command of all things was Mrs. Beatty. Awkward, wall flower, fearful Mrs. Beatty. She was the perfect accompaniment to Patty: what Patty said, went. Mrs. Beatty kept minutes at every tenant meeting, her head down, scribbling away all points Patty. Once the meeting was over, Mrs. Beatty beat a hasty retreat, running up the stairway while others milled about, seeking an audience of futility with Patty. Mrs. Beatty would unlock her door, scoot in, and firmly close it again, locking the two locks, place the dead bolt bar, and attach the door chain.
Mrs. Beatty would not answer her phone for two days after a tenants meeting.
The building management would try to be out to lunch, or at a meeting, when Patty came to call. She’d worm her way in, and normally bedazzle and bewilder the office staff. A few meetings where she did not get her way were headed by the management group’s lawyer; Dave was Patty’s match, and she left those meetings all turned around herself. Not a feeling she liked.
There was a project where Patty felt victorious: the complete refurbishment of the lobby! A new centerpiece planter oasis with faux waterfall, wrought iron to replace the shoddy railings in and outside of the lobby, new lighting, a new couch and wing back chairs, and her piece de resistance: having the walls re-mirrored.
Patty had a private meeting with the building owner, behind closed doors. Dave the lawyer was out of town for a week and Patty pounced. When all done, the owner thought he had a better showcase model for prospective new tenants, which he felt warranted raising the rents and fees. Dave agreed, in the end, as his hourly rate only enjoyed the fallout.
The tenants balked at the raise and called Patty to hold an emergency meeting. Just about everyone in the building attended. The Weather Man didn’t, but he never did. The Whistler was dead, and was missed by a few. The Laundry Room Mafia put their seats in the front, as always, looking like the Tricoteuse, the knitting women who sat at the front of the guillotine executions during the French Revolution.
Mrs. Beatty took her seat behind and to the right of Patty. Her pen was poised over her legal pad when the meeting began, and six pages would be filled-front and back-by the time the tribunal was finished.
Patty deflected, ducked, weaved, side stepped, ricocheted back, and confused the massing with a deft hand. All the time, she kept one eye on the mirrors; her reflection sparkled, and she caught a twinkle in her own eyes every now and then. In the end, the other tenants didn’t realize that they accepted the increase. They trudged upstairs, went their own ways, and locked themselves in.
Mrs. Beatty had not immediately flown up to her hidey hole, as was her want. Her hand hurt from writing so much, and her legs and back creaked from sitting for so long. She was the next to last person in the lobby, the other one being Patty. They bid each other good night.
She wobbled up the three short steps to the landing that led to the elevator and the stairway. The side wall was also newly mirrored, and she caught a view of Patty that made her shudder.
Patty was smiling. Not a broad smile, but one of benediction and solemnity. She had her right hand raised and was rotating her hand by the wrist. Mrs. Beatty had seen the Queen of England do that same sort of movement, a royal wave, when her son married that princess. Mrs. Beatty took the stairs two at a time for a flight and a half, huffing and puffing until she got to her apartment and locked herself in.
Patty remained in the lobby until the dawn.