Leaks of Water, Income, and Disappearances...
The Next Morning…
I awoke to another groaning in the pipes; the plumbing had obviously not been attended to in the last week, so I resolved myself once again to alerting Willy the landlord to the unmet discrepancy forthwith, and thus I had found the strength of will restored sufficiently to rise from the floor, having just previously unrolled my comforter from about my person, and stumble with an aching back and neck to the bathroom. Having selected the night before the clothes that I would wear today, I noted their presence at once on the toilet seat, and I proceeded therefore to clean myself with what passed for water in this complex. Luckily it was at least certified by Sunnydale Public Works as safe for use and consumption; I divested myself thoroughly and stepped into the tub, upon which I turned on the water just long enough for me to get wet, then turned it off again, the entire evolution lasting no more than five seconds. One minute was all it took for me, from lathering my hair and scalp to scrubbing with a clean, moist rag, lathered with the same shampoo (I had learned long ago to use only shampoo to clean myself, as skin oils are the same whether secreted from the scalp or the forearm of the same skin), before I turned on the water once again to rinse off. From entering the tub to exiting, no more than three minutes had passed; I had perfected the process to nearly an exact science, so little water or time was wasted on luxury. I had little money to waste on either.
Upon dressing I secured my keys, my wallet and my tools, and then I exited my abode to stride directly to the landlord’s office. Casting my gaze about I noticed the continued lack of tenants; the six months since I began my lease here had seen little improvement in its population, a point which I decided I would bring up to Willy. I had learned by observation nearly one month ago to this day that he supplemented his income by tending bar at a place called the Alibi Room, and I had, despite my revulsion at the name and the memories evoked from the fictions I had read, found myself inevitably curious enough to go there one evening, if for no other reason than to see for myself the veracity of the establishment’s reputation. I cleared my head of the bothersome woolgathering upon reaching the threshold of the man’s apartment, which doubled as the leasing office in the absence of the same, and knocked on the door with the same fortitude as I displayed at Snyder’s office the day previously. His answer took the shape of a bleary, just-wakened expression at the opening of his door.
“Whaddya want, Doug?” were the first words from his mouth; the man had not learned many manners in his childhood, I assumed, his none-too-unpleasant demeanor notwithstanding.
“The pipes are groaning again in my building, Willy; have you the time later to see to them, or must I do this yet again?” I retorted. I had repaired the pipes in my building no less than three times this month, having refreshed my pipefitting knowledge, and I had been fortunate to locate some fresh stocks of PVC pipe in the maintenance shed, which were sufficient with a personal purchase of a primer and PVC glue. I had been additionally fortunate that the repairs were so simple as to have been preventable; the lack of tenants meant long periods of disuse in some of the units, and I had begun to grow anxious that I would have to secure another domicile in rather short order, as rent meant income, and with little of that forthcoming, the prospects of this place remaining in business after a few more months would grow from bleak to nonexistent.
“You think you could?” he asked pleadingly. His expression indicated to me his knowledge of the establishment’s predicament, which I found as pitiable as the condition of the complex itself. My growing sympathies for the man soon dominated my fortitude yet again, but not so much this time as to wither away my resolve to learn the truth of this place.
“I suppose I could this time,” was my response at length, “but I must sometime ask you, sir, as to why so few tenants besides myself remain here, and why no one tenant stays here long enough to see their lease through to its completion?”
“You don’t need to wait to ask me about that, Doug; I’ll tell you myself. It’s the disappearances, I tell you!” In that instant his expression had completely altered from the tired, pleading mask that wears heavy on a desperate and exhausted man’s face to one of persistent alarm and confusion.
“Disappearances, you say?! This town doesn’t seem the type for that; everything looks so peaceful here!”
“It only looks that way on the surface, my good man…”More to come next chapter; I had to get this out to get some interest in this…later. As before, I own nothing except the PoV character.