Note: If you haven't read Part I, it's a doozy and well worth the extra few minutes before diving in to Part II.
How can I describe The City? It’s cliche, I know, but words just don’t do it justice. It’s this alive, pulsing amalgamation of breathtaking architecture overrun by a global smorgasbord of ethnicity, languages, and dialects. This crush of humanity is, on the whole, well-intended and harmless. The others … well, they’re the ones that give The City its edgy, exotic rep. All of us on the fringe, the BTTers, that’s Bridge-Tunnel-Trainers, want to taste of The City on occasion. Most need it several times a week, others are monthly, and there are a few who only make the pilgrimage annually, either on New Year’s Eve, Saint Patrick’s Day, or instead of braving the desert for Burning Man. But why all the effort, the expense? It’s those ‘Only in The City’ bars, clubs, restaurants, and primarily, the shows. The over the top, not safe for work, hope you don’t see a neighbor SHOWS. But more on those later.
It’s this call to the carnal that Jackie counted on to keep occupancy at UrbanEights high. I didn’t learn all of this right away, of course. Jackie’s not one to share indiscriminately. There I was, steaming dogshit in my left hand, when she glided into the leasing office. Within six minutes I was asking her out. I had no plan. No clever pick-up lines. Just bare interest, genuine curiosity, and good ol’ desire.
I entered and the blast of air conditioning slapped me back almost causing me to lose resolve. But Jackie and her staffer looked up, plastic welcoming leasing smiles plastered on. The staffer was a large, dark woman - African features prominent in her cheeks and brow - who I’d had one brief run-in with due to a visiting nephew and subsequent toilet backup. She had unexpectedly turned from nearly hostile to all smiles and responsiveness when she saw my dusty ego shelf. Those familiar looking trophies still carry a little cache apparently, no matter how much my life disintegrated after.
It seemed LuLu? Juju? still remembered me, or remembered the trophies, because he plastic smile transitioned to something more genuine. Before I could utter a word, she said in her accented, pronounced English, “This is is Mr. Howard in 1204, one of our new residents.” There was the slightest of emphasis on my name, as if I’d been spoken of previously. I later asked Jackie about it, and she gave me her sexy-as-hell coy smile and said, “Well yes, you may have been mentioned. We don’t have many Oscar and Emmy winners here.” She was laying on her stomach, naked under my 600 thread count white sheets, and her brunette hair was loose and free after another round of sex. And after she spoke, she scooted closer and planted a series of small kisses on my cheek and neck.
But hold on, I’m getting ahead of things here, and if I don’t get this down in order, you won’t understand. And I need you to get it. Someone has to see last year’s events at UrbanEights from my point of view. If not, I’m done. Finito. Out of the game. You see, behavior led to events at The Complex which unexpectedly began mirroring behavior in The City. And that really isn’t an option. City folks don’t like it, especially the Show Producers. Law enforcement certainly doesn’t like it. A small but vocal percentage of UrbanEights residents didn’t like the new influence either.
As chief instigator and provocateur, I was initially delighted at the response. But then the personal attacks followed. And that’s when I got ugly. Which I’ll save for next time ….
Ben's Note - After being a homeowner, a landlord, and a single-family detached home tenant, I'm now a resident in a luxury apartment complex, just minutes away from the subway, and several miles south of Oakland. Since moving in several months ago, I've been surrounded by a host of stories. The Complex is the first result from several inspirations and installments will appear every Wednesday through August.