You’re not a big spender, but you like nice things. You deserve nice things, damnitt. You’ve worked hard for nice things. And this place? It’s brand new. State-of-the-art appliances, no scuffs on the hardwood floors, custom carpet in the hallways, and a new-paint smell that makes you feel like you live in the after-shots on HGTV.
Sure, it was supposed to be condos. The economy tanked that idea. But the developers’ loss is your gain. You get to live in a luxury rental for the same thing you were paying before. Didn’t have a pool before. Didn’t have a health spa either.
I mean, it might get a little lonely until more people move in. You’ve heard more people are definitely moving in. You haven’t really seen any of them yet. But hey, plenty of street parking.
Besides, you’re blocks from the ‘hood. You never see any of the gangbangers and oversized teenagers on little pink bikes over near you. There’s even a gate downstairs in case any “undesirables,” as the realty agent put it, happen to wander down this far. Sure, the keypad doesn’t work. But it’s not like the agent handed out instruction cards in the ghetto. Right?
You even need a key fob to get into the parking garage. Those things are set to specific frequencies or something. It’s not like anyone could casually get around that falling gate. It comes down so quickly, it almost took the finish off your Mercedes SUV.
So, maybe you shouldn’t have bought that thing. Made the down payment, really. But the economy was going so well then. You had bonus money. You had to keep up appearances at the office. You couldn’t let Eddie in accounting roll in with a new Lexus. Not and keep driving your old Subaru.
At least you don’t have to worry about anyone scratching it at home now. You rarely see more than three cars in the whole garage. Hell, one day you saw a couple of teens driving a Mini in wild backwards circles on one of the ramps until the brunette got sick on the pavement and the blonde laughed so hard she spit Slurpee out of her nose.
Tonight, you pull up to see a U-Haul van near the side door. You don’t see anyone, but you think: Hey, new neighbors. You try to get a peek inside the van, but the only thing on the seat is a receipt you can’t read without your glasses.
You shrug and head in out of the heat. They say it’s the humidity that gets you and they may be right. It certainly does feel like you ran through a sprinkler, you’re so damp, and you just got out of your car. You have a shower on your mind.
You’re also wondering which take-out menu to pull out. You still have kung-pao something from lunch in your messenger bag, but you’re thinking pizza would go better with the Heat game. You wonder if you have any weed leftover from the last time your pothead friend stopped by, but figure you can settle for beer. You know you still have a couple Native Lagers or maybe a LandShark.
You’re not paying attention as you take the elevator up to your floor. Even though the place is practically empty – and you could have easily gotten a place more convenient for hauling up couches and groceries – you wanted the view of downtown. So, you’re the only one you know of on your floor.
It’s okay. You’re fine with that. You like your solitude. You also like being able to smoke your weed on the balcony without worrying about narks. Well, when you have some.
You never expected to find your door open.
You never expected to find strange men drinking your beer.
You never expected to find yourself duct-taped and naked and bleeding on your bathroom floor.
You hear the front door slam shut after they’ve finished pilfering and thieving. They even took the company laptop and you’ll never hear he end of that.
You listen to the stillness of the apartment. Of the building. Of the quiet of the street outside.
No one knows you live up here. No one will miss you until tomorrow. The office will call. But your intruders stole the phone. The call will go to voice mail. Voice mail you’ll be unable to check. Will they eventually call the police? Will Sandra in marketing try to stop by? She did send you that Christmas card. But will she be able to get past the gate?
You find the puddle of blood is growing. You find yourself getting lightheaded. Maybe a little sleepy. And what else do you have to do up here on top of the fledgling little city-in-training?
Your eyes are heavy. Your head hurts.
No one can hear you.