Friday, February 22, 2013


The buzzer has never been used.  Geneva was almost in need of a Depends from the fright it caused.  The property manager had shown her how it works when first she moved in.  That was quite a few years ago.  No one had ever buzzed her, not even in mistake.  She smoothes the side of her chignon down and waddles over to the intercom.


“Good evening, Geneva.  I’m downstairs.   Should I come upstairs or wait for you here?”

Geneva smiles before pushing the intercom button again.  “And who is this?”

There is a pause longer than she expected.  Perhaps she shouldn’t have pretended that she wasn’t expecting Quincy.  Just as she was about to push the intercom button to check if he was still there, he responded.

“This is Quincy.”

“Oh, oh yes.  Quincy.  Please pardon that.  I’ll meet you downstairs in just a moment.”  She releases the intercom button giggling like a high school girl and grabs her scarf, neatly covering her perfectly pinned do.  “I shouldn’t be long, PomPom.  There’s fresh food and water in your bowl.”  She swings her shawl over her shoulders and tucks it in place.  “Don’t go out there and get in that nasty garbage!”  PomPom is resting in his usual place.  Geneva grabs her bag and keys as she exits her apartment, double checking that the door is secure.  As she turns to make way toward the stairs that familiar feeling of weariness has been replaced with anticipation of entertaining the friend awaiting her downstairs.  Quincy has promised to have a friend talk with her about the possibilities that are expected to be a part of the changes with ownership of the building.  At first Geneva wasn’t very convinced that it would be a good idea, but Quincy caused her to think twice about it.  With the help of his realtor, Geneva could get the jump on what options she has.

Quincy looks particularly nice this morning in a nice shirt and slacks.  He even has a new cane.  Geneva smiles as she tackles the last couple of stairs.

“Good morning, Quincy.  Hope I wasn’t too long.”  She pauses next to him as he prepares to open the door.

“Who would mind waiting for such a vision of beauty?”

Geneva giggles as she passes through the open door that he has held open for her.  “Such a gentleman!”

“Well, you’re quite a lady,” he smiles.  They enter the street and walk towards the coffee shop where they had their first meeting, totally lost in each other’s company.  Geneva is smiling.  Quincy is showering every compliment he can come up with upon her.  As they slowly approach the coffee shop he again extends his arm to open the door.  Once they’re inside Quincy points out his acquaintance.  A young woman seated near a window seems lost in whatever information she’s typing and viewing on her handheld device.  She’s so engrossed in fact that she’s slightly caught off guard as Quincy clears his throat to alert her of his presence. 

“Oh, sorry!  I hadn’t noticed you there.  Please have a seat.”  She places her device aside to give them her attention. 

“Ms. Wyndham, this is the lady I was telling you about, Geneva.”  Quincy pulls a chair out and awaits Geneva to be seated.  “Geneva, this is Ms. Wyndham.  She assisted with the property settlement I had a while ago and she can probably help answer some of your questions about the things that are happening with your building.”

Geneva smiles and nods, suddenly overcome with shyness and at a loss for words.  She’s unsure what questions to ask.  Fortunately though, Ms. Wyndham bails her out of the moment.

“It’s good to meet you, Ms. Geneva.  I don’t mean to rush, but I have another engagement shortly.  So, I’ll get directly to the point.  I’ve been following this story on the news, and it seems that the tenants of your building are interested in purchasing the property?”  Ms. Wyndham smiles and awaits a response.

“Yes.  But I’m not certain that I have enough of anything to buy something.  I’m not sure how I’ll be affected.”

Ms. Wyndham goes on to share stories of similar occurrences.  Geneva learns that this is no unique situation. Quincy also participates in the discussion.  But Geneva can’t seem to understand much of what they’re saying.  The sound of their voices go in and out.  Some of what they say sounds garbled.  Others words fade.  Then she sees PomPom prop up on the ledge outside the window and becomes concerned that the garbage has again become a substitute for the fresh food she’s placed in the pet bowl at home.  Not wanting to seem impolite, she continues to try and focus, with smiles and nods.  After a few moments, Ms. Wyndham has concluded their discussion with an invitation to exchange contact information for further questions.

“Once you gather a few more details, I’ll be glad to sit down and go over as much as I can with you.  How about that?”  Ms. Wyndham stands, reaches inside her purse and extends a contact card.

“That would be very nice of you, Ms. Wyndham.  Thank you so much.”  Geneva smiles and arises from the table as well, accepting the information presented to her.

“Nice to have met you, Geneva.”  Ms. Wyndham waves and exits. 

Soon Quincy and Geneva are back strolling down the sidewalk toward her building.  These details are really too much for Geneva to think about.  She just wishes that the entire mess could somehow take care of itself.  It’s so refreshing to have Quincy there.  After she’s reached the building, he bids her good afternoon and leaves.  Upon entering the building she again looks at those stairs, challenging her aged knees.  They seemed much less bothersome on the way down.   Perhaps the shift in ownership could mean getting that elevator fixed.  Yet as she begins the climb, thinking of the morning she's spent with Quincy makes it much easier to climb.  Finally she reaches her door.  After entering, she notices that PomPom has returned and is seated in the exact same place as before she left.  Fresh food and water remain untouched.

"Such a naughty pet you are, PomPom!" She playfully scowls as she removes her wrap and scarf.  She eases to PomPom and gives a loving pat before settling in to her favorite rocker and looking out at the busy streets down below.  As the rocker glides back and forth, Geneva gets lost in thought watching the people on the streets rushing about their day.     

Friday, February 15, 2013

The quiet chatter of the room decreased to a low murmur as the presence of Councilman Ford and Mr. Trudeaux was made known.  Juniper was again standing before them ready to begin.  Small groups that had gathered near the refreshments began to disperse as people slid between the aisles of neatly lined chairs to take their seats. 

“Thanks for coming out, everybody.  I’m pleased to announce that this time we have Councilman Ford with us.  I’m told that he works closely with the other levels of city government and will represent them as well.  So having made mention of that I think we’re ready to get started.”  Juniper walked to the first row of seats and grabbed her notepad and pen to hand to the person seated next to her chair.  She instinctively knew to sign in.

“What I’ve found after having spoken with the building manager – who couldn’t be here tonight – is that the owner is unable to be located.”  Juniper scanned the crowd and took notice of the puzzled looks on most faces.  “I know that seems strange.  You all are probably wondering just as I am who we’ve been paying rent to.  The building manager stated that the rents are deposited into an account that has been established long before he took the job a few years ago.  Perhaps that’s something we could gain clarity on once we hear from Councilman Ford.  Surely he knows who they were about to purchase the building from and how to contact them.”  Councilman Ford gave a nod and smile that was difficult to read.  Juniper couldn’t read his nonverbal cues.      

“I’ve researched our options and… I’m particularly the most excited about having the opportunity to buy the building if we’re serious about staying.”

Part of crowd began to whisper among themselves while others again looked puzzled.  Councilman Ford and Keagan seemed equally bewildered by her statement.

“You mean you gonna pay for the building?” someone asked out of confusion.

Juniper laughed.  “No.  What I’m saying is that WE  have the option to purchase the building and become property owners.”  Juniper was all smiles, proud of her findings and hopeful that the other tenants would be in agreement.

“How’re WE gonna do that?  I ain’t got any money!” Someone yelled out from the back. 
Councilman Ford nervously shifted in his seat. 

“It really isn’t that difficult.  If we can collectively come up with some collateral, we can begin make a bid for the building.  I have a realtor on standby that would be willing to discuss the negotiations with the city.  They should already have something in place from their former plans.  It’d just have to be modified and tweaked a bit and we could form a workable agreement.”

Some tenants tsk and exit the meeting, shaking their heads.  “I might as well get ready to move.  I ain’t interested in going through all that,” one gentleman scoffed as he made his way through the aisles toward the exit.

“Yeah, what if all of us can’t ‘buy in?’ That leaves us in the same predicament,” another tenant questioned.

“Not really.  Those of us who decide to purchase the property will take the role as owners.  You’ll still continue to pay rent as you have been doing.  It’ll actually work out better because now you’ll have contact with the owners.”

There were more statements and questions coming from the tenants.  Keagan leaned in to Councilman Ford.  “This was unexpected,” he whispered.

Councilman Ford kept his focus on Juniper.  “Something of a pleasant surprise,” Councilman responded.

“So, you’re on board with this?  What about the urban renewal project?  These faces don’t communicate upward mobility,” Keagan challenged.

“Ah, but the public loves to watch the underdog overcome adversity, Keagan.  Besides, from the tone of the crowd they’ll likely weed themselves out.  The undesirables will move to rent somewhere else.  Too much responsibility for them to own something,” the Councilman quietly chuckled.  “Whatever you had planned, put that on pause.  I think being a part of this would be to our benefit.  Let’s see where it takes us.”

As Juniper continued to answer questions, Keagan excused himself to make a phone call.  Councilman Ford continued to take notice of those who sounded reluctant and those that seemed interested in going further, the thought resting in his mind that things don’t always happen as planned but sometimes can turn out better than expected.

Friday, February 8, 2013

“Fellas, is this the correct mic?  I don’t want any fade-outs like last time.  Need I remind you that accuracy and quality are two essential components to –“

“Blah, blah, blah Skye.  Yes, that’s the correct mic.  We’re on in 5…4…wait for the light..and –“  the cameraman points as the lights glare toward the news anchor.

“This is Skye Petersen with NewsChannel 8 coming to you on location from downtown Millford Estates where the newly formed tenants association is about to discuss their plans for this residence.  The first attempt the tenants made to discuss the renovations were tragically interrupted with the suicide of local artist F. Lamar Dollison.  Dollison was removed from consideration for negotiations to purchase original art for the former ‘Millford’ as it was being called, had experienced harsh criticism from a recent art exhibit and was also having problems with a girlfriend that was in attendance at the tenants meeting when he turned a .32 caliber on himself.  Tonight, the tenants have reconvened and I have standing by Juniper Sturdevant who has been appointed president of the tenants association.  Juniper, what’s expected to be the outcome of tonight’s meeting?”  Skye thrust the mic near Juniper’s chin.

“The plans to redesign Millford Estates caught us all quite by surprise.  Tonight we hope to gain some clarity from the owner and city officials…to bring us up to speed with exactly what’s going on and at least give us a chance to be heard.”  No matter how many times she rehearsed possible responses, Juniper remained a ball of nervous energy fumbling through sentences.

“Who of those city officials are expected to show for tonight’s meeting?”

“Councilman Ford’s office has responded and is expected to attend.”

“Well, I’ll be the first to wish you and the tenants of Millford Estates the best and please keep us informed.”  Skye shifts her attention to the camera.  “This is Skye Petersen, NewsChannel 8.  Keep us tuned in as we continue to bring you updates on this and other news around the city.  We’ll now switch back to our studios where Mary Weathers is standing by with a quick check of our local traffic and weather.  Mary… “  Skye is distracted by a car that pulls up to the curb.  The camera crew shift attention toward that direction. “Just a moment.  Councilman Ford’s car has just pulled up to the building.”  Skye glances toward her crew.  “Guys, do we have time to get a few comments in?”  The camera crew nod in agreement and near the automobile.  Skye stands by, mic in hand.  Juniper has shifted away from the commotion.

Councilman Ford is fuming, but the cameras will never capture that as he is well concealed behind heavily tinted glass.  “Keagan, I hope this isn’t a part of your little surprise.  This is exactly what I was hoping to avoid.”

“Come on now, Sir.  Media coverage is expected, despite your hopeful thinking.  Paint on a happy face and let’s get going.  You ready?” 

Councilman Ford opens his door and his demeanor almost instantaneously transforms into that of a welcoming smile and caring elected official.  He exits the vehicle impeccably dressed and walks directly to where Skye is standing on the pavement.  Keagan bypasses the commotion, always preferring to remain unseen.
“Councilman Ford what are the results of the negotiations with the building investors?  Are there plans to proceed with renovations?”  Skye again thrust the microphone toward Councilman Ford, awaiting a response.

“At this time I’m unable to disclose those details.  I can say that we’re working very hard and are very much involved in doing what’s best for everyone.  Our city thrives on citizens who have such a passion for growth and welcome prosperity equally as much as we do.  They’re the reason why I am in such a privileged position to serve in this capacity, and I’ll do everything within my power not to disappoint them.”  With that Councilman Ford gave a nod and excused himself.

“And that was Councilman Ford coming to you live from Millford Estates.  Now back to our studios with Mary.”  Skye smiled into the camera and awaited her cue that taping had ceased.   She and her crew began to pack up the mobile unit while the Councilman entered the building behind Juniper, Keagan holding the door for both of them.     

Friday, February 1, 2013

“I know it’s been said that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but right now no woman could possibly compare with the sheer fury I have at this moment.  This potential renovation was not only a long-awaited change to attract more desirable citizens, this was my major ticket for re-election and pursuing a higher seat!  Now, I want to get a foothold on this mess!  And I mean as quickly as possible!”  Councilman Ford was growing angrier and angrier by the moment.  Keagan couldn’t help but to feel some degree of empathy for his assistant Contessa, who had to fear that her ear drums were about to burst each octave his voice escalated.  She was assigned the displeasing task of relaying to him the final decision about this deal, and needless to mention it wasn’t at all what he’d hoped for.  Better to have to tell him over the phone rather than face to face though. Keagan just kept his eyes on the road and continued to listen.
“...Now, I’m en route to this tenants meeting that I’ve been asked to attend.  It just wouldn’t be good not to show up.  But there’d better not be any surprises, or I’m going to have to impose sanctions, Contessa!”  Councilman Ford disconnected the call and tucked his cellular in his breast pocket, looking out of the window.
“I’m assuming that the business associates decided not to reconsider the deal.”  Keagan rounded a corner almost a block and a half from their destination.
“They wouldn’t even hear the revisions out.  Something about too much negative publicity and building codes.  Not only are they not willing to relocate, they don’t even want to entertain the idea at all.”  The Councilman fell silent for a second before speaking again.  “What investor would dare take a risk with this now after our original investors have reneged?  What a pain in the-“
“Eh, so what are you prepared to say to the tenants?”  Keagan was quietly amused by the councilman’s anger.  He usually keeps a cool head.  This is one of the rare opportunities that he’s ever heard him raise his voice.
“No matter what they say, my response is that I’m on board and we’ll all get through this together.”
“Well thought out, sir.  Very good.”  Keagan smiled and shook his head. 
“Besides, I’m not certain if the media is scheduled to appear or not.  I don’t want any more hang-ups with them.”  Councilman Ford glanced in Keagan’s direction.  “You seem quite entertained.”
“Sir, I’ve been working for you quite some time now, and I’ve just never known you to be this upset about very many things.  After all, I’m paid very well to do your dirty work.  I’m beginning to think I’ve lost your confidence.”
Keagan’s words lightened the councilman’s mood.  “It seems that after this meeting we’ll know where to begin with Plan B.”
“Already one step ahead of you.  We’ll just see where this meeting takes us.”
Dennis was so fine.  Valissa hadn’t been spending nearly as much time with her old clique as she once did when she lived closer to them.  So seeing Dennis after all this time kind of conjured up some weird feelings.  She’d crushed on guys before.  But she’d never looked at Dennis twice.  That is, until she was reunited with Larque and her old crew.  They came through to see what was up, especially with all the attention that the building was getting.  He was looking all brand new and stuff.  Got himself toned up from taking up martial arts. Grew some dreads that were in a neat bob.  A little facial hair.  Even got a brand new used whip.  Yep. He definitely had changed from the snotty-nosed, booger-eating yuck mouth that she once hassled in the halls between classes. As she neared where he was parked she took a second to smooth her wrap and adjust her denim skirt that seemed to keep riding up.  Good thing she decided to put the leggings on.  Dennis seemed to have caught sight of her in his peripheral vision and did a double take, but tried to play it off.
“Is that how you s’pose to treat a lady?”  Valissa had finally made it to where Dennis was leaned against his car playing BrickBreaker on his android.
“Where’d she go?  Where did you see a lady?”  He cleared his screen and shoved the phone in his hoodie, smiling.
“Ha ha.  Very funny.”
Dennis walked around to the drivers side door and opened it.  Valissa was standing there looking wide-eyed.
“Aren’t you gonna open my door?” 
“Is something wrong with your hands?  Or is it your head?  You’ve forgotten how to open the door?”
Valissa smacked her lips.  “Boy you know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout!”
“What I do know is that you better hurry up and get in this car before you’re left standing on the sidewalk.  My bladder is full.  Shoot, I was just about to duck between them buildings if you had’ve been two seconds later.”  He placed his leg in the car and was about to be seated before he realized that Valissa was still standing on the sidewalk looking stupefied.  “What?”
“I want you to open my door,” Valissa demanded.
“It looks like you want to get left.  This ain’t a date.  You asked if I’d take you to get some grub and that’s what I agreed to do.  Now get in or get left.”  This time Dennis got inside the car and closed the door.  He tried to crank it up, but it stalled.  One more time he turned the ignition and the car sputtered a few times before going dead again. 
Valissa began to wail with laughter.  “Look like you ain’t leavin’ nobody tonight, playa!” 
Dennis glared at Valissa then turned the ignition, this time successfully getting the car started. 
Valissa opened the door and hopped in.  “Don’t worry.  I got you if you need to take the bus home,” she snickered between laughs.
“Keep it up and you’ll be needin’ that bus fare for yourself.”  Dennis shifted gears and off they drove.