Not wanting any more bad luck, and making sure I wasn’t available for anyone else Jessica lovingly sent my way, I grabbed my earplugs, locked up shop, and left. Always be prepared, right? I could hunt James down later and get my money. I turned right and walked over a few blocks till I was on Blandina Street and headed over to the Comstock Apartments. I figured I could check on Dad and see if I could find a bit more of Cousin Antonio’s money.
Comstock Apartments were a golden testament to great thinking in the nineteen seventies. Tall, brown, and majestic in a way that can only be described as two fat cigars stuck into the ground. It must have been the highlight of its day, the crème de la crème of senior living, but now it looked like the rumpled trousers of its occupants. The same couldn’t be said for the current set of cohabitants.
“Hey Cutie Boy, haven’t seen you in a while.” Mrs. Malachi, the purple haired woman with skin the color of ninety two percent dark chocolate, has always had a soft spot for younger men. Since she is almost eighty five that qualifies as much of the current population of the city. That doesn’t bother her though. She knows she’s God’s gift to men, and bless her heart, she isn’t afraid to remind us of that every time she could.
You had to pay the gate keeper to enter the castle, unless you wanted her to breath fire all over you, and let me tell you, this woman is too hot to handle when she gets going. Besides, it’s always good to respect your elders. “Hi Mrs. Malachi. How are things today?”
She waved her hand dismissing my greeting. “Cutie boy. drop the Mrs. crap. The mister went to live with the Lord a long time ago. I miss him fiercely of course.”
I continued the ritual. “Of course.”
“But at the same time I still have needs.” She cleans off imaginary lint from her top. The top that is probably too open for her age I might add, though I am avoiding going there at all costs.
“We all do. We’re only human.” She seems mollified by that for a moment, and I think I’m home free until she reaches down under her seat and pulls out her garish burnt orange purse. It was fashionable when this edifice was built, and for some reason seemed quite at home in that setting still.
She rummaged through her purse and took out a pack of cigarettes and a Zippo Elvis embossed lighter. She paused to point the lighter at me. “Exactly. You tell that father of yours that I see him coming out of Olivia’s apartment. He can do much better.”
“I will do that. Is he home? I mean visiting Olivia?” Oops, that could get more awkward than it already is.
“How should I know?” Mrs. Malachi lights a cigarette and takes a long puff. I wonder if the smoke signifies that we are done. It’s worth a try.
“Nice talking with you Miss Malachi.” Who says I don’t listen.
“I bet I have a niece that would be just perfect for you.” I almost snap my neck on that just above the knees curve ball strike three call just as I was about to take my base.
“But Miss Malachi, I’m seeing someone right now.” Now she has me flustered. I don’t like to be flustered.
She chuckles a bit. “This too shall pass, and when it does, let me know.” Is she kidding me? This too shall pass? She dismisses me with a gesture, but I don’t take it and stand my ground.
She looked me in the eye so hard I’m sure my grandfather, who was probably talking to Mr. Malachi right now, felt it. “Cutie Boy, don’t hurt your little mind. I haven’t seen your dad leave today, so unless he flew out a window or something then he’s here.”
Boy she might know more than he let on, but still, that niece comment. Better get out while I still have my head. “Yeah, imagine that, flying out of a window. Later.” I rush past Miss Malachi and into the building feeling relieved, but wondering what just happened, and hoping I could somehow fly out a window myself so she couldn’t catch me on the way out.