Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Le Votre Nuveau Lieu (Blogophilia 38.5)



Steam rose from the pavement from the afternoon shower. Standing in front of the building was the Man Who Sold the World, or least the idea of instant greetings, the apartment was finally done. Penthouse magnificence unlike anything Atlanta had ever seen and he had the top three floors of the building. He had used the same guy that did Elton John’s place and paid him extra to make sure that his was better. It was higher.    Elton’s was only 40 floors up and his was 50.The reverse taper of the building made the “public” first floor was smaller than his private quarter’s two floors up, which he thought was a nice touch.  

A sudden smell ruined the moment. The source was playing a harmonica just to the left of the entrance. The guy motioned to Jerry to throw something in the hat. Why couldn’t he find a real job and quit bothering productive people like him?  

All this came because he had an idea and executed it. Pulling cash out of an ATM, he realized other things beside money could be dispensed through this machine.Why not greeting cards?  Instead of fifty feet of shelf space, why not have a computer do everything? He pitched the idea to a guy in a bar and he took it and the rest was history. The kiosks appealed to the impulse buyer and the harried traveler needing a souvenir for his kid.  They had become almost as common as soda machines and was as good as printing cash.  

Entering the building, he looked at his reflection in the door.  He still couldn’t believe it. The Concierge stood behind the desk and greeted him.

Bonsoir, Monsieur Goldstein. My name is Henri and I am the Concierge.We have been expecting you.  Follow me, S’il vous plait.”

 Henri escorted Jerry around the building. Never leaving the first floor, they passed the indoor pool and gym.  Security procedures were detailed and Jerry was introduced to the guard chief, who provided the building and parking passes. The tour ended in a flourish at his private express elevator. Massive ebony slabs with gold inlays. It was a moving safe.  No interaction with the other tenants was necessary.  He was the king of his castle. As they waited for the elevator to arrive, Henri spoke.

Monsieur, I took the liberty to employ a butler for you during to manage the deliveries to the unit. His name is Yves Milleux. He is really quite competent, but he has kind of… an odd manner. Please don’t be put off by it. He has worked for me before and I assure you everything will be taken care of.  I’ll call ahead so he will meet you when you arrive.”  

The heavy inlaid doors opened and off Jerry went to the heavens.  

Glass and the tops of trees replaced the doors. The place was mostly empty, with a couple of tables and a sofa in one corner and a temporary service table next to the galley kitchen on the far side of the floor.   The soothing sound of the modern jazz floated in the air. A high shrill voice sounded. 

“Monsieur Glodstein?”

A small, prim man in a cummerbund stood in the doorway to the kitchen.  He looked like something out of the movies, with a pencil moustache and slick hair.  To Jerry, he looked like a pigeon ready to crap on passerby.

“That’s Goldstein, not Glodstein.”  Jerry said irritably, taking off his coat. “I take it you are Yves?”
Oui, Monsieur.  I am Yves. Welcome to le votre nouveau lieu, your new place.Back in Paris, one would use this for l’affair illicite, no? Would you care for a drink?” Yves took Jerry’s coat and threw it casually over the sofa.  

“Martini, with a twist.”

“Get it yourself, Monsieur.  I am actually… how you say… off the clock”.

Jerry was stunned.  “Off the clock?  I just got here.”

Oui, Monsieur, you have. But I follow the union rules. Eight hours. No more. I checked in at 9:00AM, sharp. My time, it is up.” Yves headed towards his own coat.  

“But…”

“No buts, Monsieur. Rules are rules.“

“Are you always this sarcastic, Yves?”  Jerry asked.

“Not always, Monsieur” he said. reaching for his hat and coat. “Usually I am much worse. I am here today only because Henri said he would beat me within an inch of my life if I didn’t meet you. Anyway, I am late to meet Mademoiselle Therese and she is not pleased when I am late. The bar is over in the corner. Oh, and dinner is warming in the oven there in the galley.  Au revoir.    He disappeared behind the inlaid doors, leaving Jerry alone with his thoughts. 

Sighing, Jerry walked over to the galley and pulled out the plate, a full English breakfast of eggs, bacon, black pudding and a couple of other things he couldn’t name off the bat. The trip to London hooked him on this stuff. It certainly wasn’t the kosher fare Aunt Marlie served. She would have screamed at the sight.Mom would have just shrugged. Jerry didn’t care. He hadn’t been to Temple since college and he wasn’t going back anytime soon. He put a fork in the sausage and watched as the crimson juice flooded the plate and spilled on his pants. God.

After cleaning up the mess, he entered the main floor salon. After his encounter with the strange butler, he thought about calling Henri and giving him a piece of his mind. Eh, why screw that up.A single leather sofa stood opposite the floor to ceiling window.  An ad for the warehouse of bankruptcy firms lit up the big screen, promising immediate relief from your stupid decisions. It was the Fourth of July and he had a front row seat for the fireworks. The Blackberry holster buzzed and number was familiar. He clicked it to life and slurred in to the speaker.

“Hi, Babe.  What’cha doing?”

“Not much.” The soft voice responded breathlessly.  “We spent all day in court arguing some frivolous motion for Wentworth.  You know the situation with the ladder?  We really shouldn’t have bothered, but at $275 an hour, who am I to complain?   The judge finally dismissed it, and told us to shut up, which we did.  So, did you get moved in? “

Martha Halpern was his best friend and confidant. Kindred spirits, they had weaved in and out of each others’ lives. But the relationship was always platonic.Currently employed with one of the big national firms, she specialized in patent cases. Boring topic, except when it came time to patent his machine.  Martha had written up the franchise and licensing rights to the Airport printers so they kept a healthy stream of cash.  Jerry thought she was a genius, and really wanted a bit more. But they both were scared of ruining a great thing.  

 “Sort of.”  Jerry replied.  “Only about a third of the furniture is in, but there are places to sit and a bed to sleep in. The help in this building leaves a lot to be desired, though. The Butler cut out claiming he was union.  Anyway, I was thinking about ordering in and watching the fireworks show from up here. I bet it will be a different perspective.  You game? “ 

“A bird’s eye view, right?  Sure, but I got to get a shower first. I just got out of Zumba class.  Eau de Femme would spoil dinner, ne c’est pas?”

“Please.” Jerry rubbed his head. “I have had enough French tonight. And besides, I like it when my women work hard. “

“Aren’t you the big talker?  Anyway, that sounds great.  I’ll stop and pick up something.  See you in a bit."
As he hung up, his mind drifted to thoughts of his parents. They were ones with the “illicit affair”. Nobody outside the family knew they were first cousins. They had been snuck out of the village a few months before most of the family was exterminated. She was 15 and he was 12 when they left, hitching rides as best as they could.  It took them almost a year to get to New York and by that time, she was pregnant with his brother.  At Ellis Island, they lied about their ages and being married and they were given a pass in.  

They set up housekeeping in Brooklyn and went to work at a dress factory.  The manager was an evil bastard that never paid what he owed, but they persevered. There were nights they didn’t eat and they would scream at each other. But they trusted each other. It was how they survived this long.  

 Slowly, though Pop came up through the ranks and they bought a small place near Coney Island.  A scholarship got Jerry into City College and he took it from there. He certainly wasn’t going to be that poor again. Aggressive to a fault, Jerry hardly saw them when he lived up there and never saw them again after he moved south. They were gone now and he didn’t attend either one of the funerals.  

The building across the street was fiery with the reflected sunset. The lights from rush hour crawled by silently below his feet.   He reached into the bar cooler and pulled out a bottle of Riesling. It was going to be an interesting night. Clark Howard’s geeky mug was in full HD on the flat screen.Who wanted to hear about flustered schmucks who couldn’t handle money anyway?  Jerry picked up the remote and pressed another button.  A grey haired black lady appeared as a warm up to the local coverage of the fireworks. Good. We get to see the show here and away from all those people down there.  The phone buzzes.  Henri the Concierge announcing that Martha and dinner have arrived.  Even better. Where is that damn corkscrew?

Opening the wine bottle, Jerry notices the hat on the counter.  The crazy butler had his hat on when he left, right?  Or was he beamed down from space? Monsieur Glodsten?  He couldn’t employer name right?   Well, He isn’t here to screw stuff up. Everything should be fine. Pouring two glasses, he steps over the elevator to wait.  

There is a soft chime and the huge doors open.  A petite woman wearing a simple dress and carrying a huge tote bag is inside. Frizzy, gray flecked hair flowed down her back. Martha didn’t waste time on fashion. If it covered the flaws adequately and was decently made, that was enough. Jerry didn’t care. It wasn’t like she was his wife or anything. 

 She set the bag she was carrying on the service table, she asked:  “Have they unpacked your kitchen stuff yet?” 

 “I think so”, Jerry replied, handing her a glass. “Check the drawer to the left of the sink.”

Draining the glass, she fished around. Finding what they need, she hands him a container and a fork. She pulls out another container for herself and opens it. 

“So, what’s this about a crazy butler? You couldn’t get somebody competent?”  

“God, don’t I wish.  I really hate surprises.” Jerry answered between bites. “Mmm. Chicken is great.” 

He pauses a moment.    

“Anyway, I get here in a daze, since it wasn’t supposed to be ready until next week. The Concierge had already hired the nut by the time I got here. I was escorted up to my expensive new place only to be insulted by a clown in a tuxedo who couldn’t even get my name right. Nothing like chaos to add to the blood pressure”  

“Oh, that reminds me” Martha reached in to the tote bag.  “I did remember the housewarming present.”  She pulls out a print of a Jellybean Heart. “I found it down at Tuesday Morning half off.  I thought it was cute.”   Jerry smiled and set the print on the wall next to the bar.  

 The phone buzzes again.  Jerry looks at the number and clicks it off. “Staff can handle that.  I have better things to do. I find inconceivable that people can’t live without me” 
   
Martha pours another glass of wine and saunters over to the sofa. “You got music in this crazy place?”  

“Oh, yeah.” 

 Jerry taps a button on the remote. A song comes out about woven tapestries of life. The lady on the big screen is talking to a family dressed in flag clothing. Martha visibly relaxes and takes Jerry’s hand in front of the huge window.  A rocket flashes up and blooms a hundred feet below them.  Startled, Martha presses in to Jerry and lips meet and hold.  A soft chime echoes across the room as the elevator doors open.

Excusez moi, Monsieur et Madame.  I believe I have forgotten my hat.” 

8 comments:

  1. Well done! I enjoyed it greatly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. This was originally a three parter that introduced Jerry and Martha. I have wanted to condense them into a single story for a while and the prompts gave me the push to finish.

      Delete
  2. :) Interesting characters! I look forward to reading more about Jerry and Yves, a perfect character match up if ever there was one! 8 points Earthling! :)
    Marvin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like Jerry. He's the new-rich bastard that cuts you off on the freeway. Totally self absorbed.

      Yves is an old character of mine. I have played him in stand up routines and parties, as well as in writing. You would do well to think twice about accepting a drink from him.

      Delete
  3. Good old Jerry..sounds like a good idea! très bon
    Liked the pigeon description. Interesting parental background there, and no, I didn’t miss the black pudding reference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I figure most jerks have a reason to be so.

      Delete
  4. ooohhh!!! This is great. I love Yves and am intrigued by Jerry.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yves is...obnoxious. No? You would best check your drink.

    ReplyDelete