Los Inquilinos Se Registran, Pero No Pueden Salir (A Nod to "Roach Motels")
My cell phone rang just as I passed Candlestick Park or Point or whatever the exit is these days?
“Sinead! How nice of you to phone. Am I on a production? Are you lost? Is your GPS down? How can I help?”
“You could shut up.”
“Yes, I’ve been told that before.”
“The front door lock is broken.”
“Now you’re making things up.”
“Would I make that up just to mess with you?”
“Yes you would.”
She grumbled over the phone and I heard Declan, the calmest man in the world, and knowing Sinead he would have to be, working away in the background.
“Declan thinks he has a temporary fix, but it’s definitely broken,” said Sinead.
“So, May won’t be able to get into the house?” I asked.
“It’s more that she would not be able to get out. We had to exit by the back door this morning. Then we came around front and were able to get inside, but you can’t operate the front door from the inside of the house.” Sinead continued. “We couldn’t leave unless we went around back again.”
“So, the house won’t let you leave?”
“What does that mean?”
“It’s a line from a horror movie, Event Horizon.”
“Well, we’re leaving as soon as you get here.”
You’ll need to have a locksmith come over and replace the hardware.”
“A locksmith! Now why didn’t I think of that?”
I pressed harder on the accelerator, but could not have been too concerned about the situation at the front door, because I did stop at my favorite donut shop at 24th and Church for a coffee and an old-fashioned. Maple this time.
“Where you been?” Asked the drop-dead gorgeous young Asian woman behind the counter.
“Did you miss me?”
I am not kidding. She blushed and giggled.
“In New York City.”
“Long time,” she said as her delicate brown fingers lifted the donut from the tray.
“Oh, so you’ve seen Full Metal Jacket?”
I took my change, but still got a proverbial Cheshire Cat smile from her.
“If only we’d met 35 years and a thousand donuts ago.”
I arrived at the front parking area of the house, an added benefit to the property. For the 22 years we lived in the house, Lee and I enjoyed the open space that sat right in front of 310 Twin Peaks. The lazy gits in the city of San Francisco were in a siege over who had to pay for a sidewalk, which should run the 50 foot length of our property line.
Since this fifty by fifteen foot undeveloped section belonged to the city, our contention, oddly, was that San Francisco needed to install it. Their stance was that since Lee and I were white privileged rich folks who didn’t deserve our good fortune, we should do the work and hire only oppressed minority contractors.
And since the dopes that sit in government appointed bureaucracies have the combined intelligence quotients of house flies, Lee and I decided to take advantage of a half-dozen free and unrestricted parking spaces and save the money on hiring valets such as Flying Dutchman for our parties and contractors.
I pulled in and moved as close to my neighbor’s house to the south, since I knew a moving truck would be arriving soon and wanted to leave as many spaces as possible. Also, I did not want to park in the garage, which was an excellent access point for large items such as furniture.
I walked up the 52 steps to the front porch and Sinead and Declan greeted me. They both looked very California. Declan wore a light colored work-shirt and faded jeans. Sinead was in a light pullover and khakis. Their skin tanned and refreshed. Less than a year out of New York City and these two had taken to the live/work balance like pros.
I shook his hand, gentle but strong. I hugged Sinead and resisted the urge to cop a feel. Okay, I didn’t and I’ve never been attracted to her that way, but if she didn’t turn your head while you were walking down the street, you were either blind or three days dead. Black, black, black hair and eyes that could have you believe in the devil.
“How long have you been having a problem with the front door lock?” I asked.
“It will work for a while,” said Declan. “But it needs to be replaced.”
“Thanks for taking care of it, Declan,” I said. “Locksmith will be out late this afternoon. He’s going to bring some hardware with him.”
Declan took me on a tour of the house to show me the interior work he’d completed.
We went to the outside on the second floor patio to review the trim around the doors and windows, all of which had gotten weathered over the past few years.
“You’ll need to replace the wood in a few of the units, but they should last through the next rainy season.”
“Sure,” I said. “I’ll get hold of Fred Haber. He installed the last trim about 20 years ago. Looks like it’s held up very well.”
“It has,” said Declan. “He’s done a great job. I’d suggest the exposed windows on the Eastern facing front of the house should get the first of his attention. They get the worst of it, since Twin Peaks protects the back. Though Fred should inspect them all.”
We returned to the front door and Sinead. She picked up her backpack.
“You should be flattered,” I remarked.
“How’s that?” Sinead replied, throwing her backpack over her shoulder.
“The house didn’t want you to go.”
“You compared that entreaty to a horror movie.”
“Not a very good one,” I said. “Though Sam Neill is in it.”
“Call me before you head back. Maybe you can come down to Google for lunch.”
“Google has lunch?”
I turned back to the front door and opened it. I walked inside and shut the door. After several Tourette’s-like explosions of bad language, I surrendered. The house would not let you leave. I walked out the back door; through the gate, and returned to the accursed door, stepping back to take in a view of the entire property we had called home for 22 years.
“Something you want to tell me,” I asked?
For some reason the house did not answer back with anything resembling dialogue.
“So May can check in, but she can’t check out?”
The house cracked a smile.