1. Telescopic Baton
CONFESSIONS OF A CONCIERGE
By: Timothy F. H. Doucette
Chapter One: Telescopic Baton
The morning came early and without much effort, John was able to get to work on time. John is a Security Guard, he works the concierge desk of a busy high-end Condominium. He has long patrols and deals mostly with contractors and management requests and endless escort duty with the Condo superintendent. John was having a rather boring day, until the flood of complaints about the elevators taking a long time and then out of the corner of his eye, he could see her approaching the desk. Surely there was a complaint on its way. Soon he would be attacked with relentless accusations that had nothing to do with his job and again he would have to smile, suck it up and pretend that he cared.
John's headache was just buzzing near by, he could feel it in his shoulders first as she got closer.
He really didn’t despise her, he actually hated everyone, equally.
( oh shit here she comes, what a useless bag of wind! You really think I give a rats ass, what you think of me!? You are nothing more than a Neanderthal with a driving licence. I wish you’d simply disappear!” he thought to himself.)
John: ( over joyfully) Good morning!
Johns few social skills were normally mixed with the sarcasm of a blunt object. If you were " in on the joke" you would utter a laugh of embarrassment and offer an insiders nod of the head, if you weren't you would probably leave his presence feeling like something had just stepped on your toes, yet not knowing exactly what to make of it.
Again Johns inner voice raged on, (Are you still standing here? Go on, run along. I’m sure some benign thing is beckoning your attention somewhere, hopefully somewhere far away from here! )
John: Just a moment, I’ll be right with you…Yes, go ahead.
Most of all he couldn’t stand the way her perfume was permeating the room. He hated perfume. Especially in the cinema. Or at a conference, or in the lobby, where his front desk was situated, and was being assaulted by this stench...
Old Princess- I don't know if you are already...
John- Yes. We are aware that elevator # 3 is acting up. The elevator company has been called. Nothing to worry about everything is under control.
Old P- Well I just thought...
Just then, the phone began to ring... And at the same time the continual buzzing of the main intercom system began ringing...
J- Excuse me... I must answer this call and there is a car at the garage. (now get out of my line of vision! You are a hazard to my mental health!)
The lady with the in your face everybody smell me perfume, blew out her nostrils a contorted disapproval and then snobbishly threw her head into the air and walked away.
John was very thankful to the powers that be, for relieving him of further contact with her.
He then concentrated his efforts on deciphering the broken English shouting at him through the little speaker of the archaic plastic yellow intercom box.
John- 1917? 1917,what?!
Visitor- I go, I go...1917...
J- Are you a visitor, Sir?!
V- yeah yeah. I see my friend! She is 1917! You open me, now!
J- what is your name?!
V- I am visitor, I go in now…what number?
John rubbed his head. He knew it was the best the poor immigrant could come up with, and even though it sickened him, to have to fill in the blanks for imbeciles, jackasses, marginal’s and new comers alike, it was better to get this guy on his way to a visitor parking spot, if only to shut him up.
John- Sir, go to visitors parking and park in spot V-13!
The Immigrant- B?
John- V! As in V, for visitor, as in Victor, as in vicious!
John hit the button on the intercom and the golden arches of the aged condo garage opened up and swallowed the visitor from elsewhere…One could almost here the bowels of the building emit gas after the car had fully entered. He studied the arms of his wrist watch go round and round, and thought that it must have been later than it was…wishful thinking, he presumed. Then all of a sudden, as though an angel had fallen from the sky, the joyful sounds of the dreaded fire alarm began to go off!
What a relief! Anything to break up the painful monotony. When the firefighters arrived they always took charge. John called his partner to the desk.
John- 94 to 93 come in.
It was no use. Nothing could be heard now. The bells and whistles had finally taken over. In the end, announcements would be made concerning the burnt toast and everyone could get back to the soap opera.
John looked at his watch again, and quite pleasantly, he saw that time had passed unnoticed, and it was indeed nearing the end of his shift. Now the changing of the guard. In the security business, there was always someone on duty. His post was conrolled by 8 guards, 2 at a time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A guards duty was to never leave his post unmanned. Which meant that John and his partner couldn’t leave for home until they had been relieved.
John handed over his keys and radio to the next man, rode the elevator, which was in fact prettier than his very own one bedroom apartment, to the 2nd floor and entered the maintenance room/ change room, then unlocked his locker and got changed. There was a familiar smell of old rags in the air and the cold metal locker reminded him of boot camp. At the end of a long day filled with lengthy patrols, John's slight limp had worsened. John had survived only barely while his convoy in Afhanistan had been ambushed. An IED exploded, ripping his leg open in several key areas, when a roadside bomb tore through his units Hummer, which never fully healed properly.
He yanked off his tie, and threw it into the locker, thinking off all the things he had accomplished, of all the places he had seen and wondered how he ended up where he now stood, in that place you end up when everything else seems to have failed.
He looked at his hands, they were shaking a little bit. He pulled his winter hat down tightly onto his throbbing head and told himself, “ march soldier, march.” John locked the pad lock and robotically turned to the door.
The rain beat down, blowing into the back of his head. Anyone else might have hailed a cab, but John felt a certain peacefulness about the rain washing over him, washing down the street, pouring fast into the gutter. He felt like a salmon jumping up stream against the grain. It felt right. He enjoyed the way the water ran off the end of his nose in a diagonal direction to the street below. He was drifting, but he wasn’t sure where. It didn’t matter…he could walk for hours, in the blowing wind that whistled the tune of his scattered mind.
What was happening? Why this breaking inside? Like a miner digging deeper in the mountain for gold, John could feel his soul, clawing at his innards, searching for his true essence, digging for the real meaning to his life…his old self running out of him and being washed away into the gutter with the rain…it felt good, natural to let go.
John wondered if the streetcar was ever going to arrive. He was regretting to have to mix himself into the zombie conveyer belt on wheels.
As he waited, squinting through the rain, he could make out two figures coming closer to where he stood.
“I can’t believe these two soulless farts are approaching me! Oh, please. Really!?” John thought to himself, as he reached into his pocket and made a sure grip on his military flashlight, with one hand, the other was also taking firm grip of his telescopic baton. The two hoodlums made their intentions more obvious as they began to utter aggressively ignorant phrases, concerning the reason Johns eyes would not move from their direction. Yet John, a former soldier, fully trained in military self defence compounded by 3 tours in the theatre of war, was not moved by their scare tactics.
One of the braver hiphop ganster wannabe idiots reached into the inside pocket of his coat, which triggered a well rehearsed, and now quite natural movement from John. Within five seconds, a light flashed into one of the men’s eyes, while the other received a two strike, pin point accurate blow of the whip like action of John's telescopic baton. (A bone shattered in both elbow and knee.)
The other "gangster", blinded by the targeted light, was holding his head ducking for cover on the side walk, leaning on the wall, scaling it as he felt his way, running and stumbling over.
John stepped over the wounded man who was wincing in considerable pain, leaping out of sight, around the corner, hailed an oncoming cab, and was off to his planned engagement of the night.
John pays the cabby and even offers a tip. He then looks at his watch and realises how late it is getting. He knew he would have to keep it short with his friend. A couple drinks and then a quick exit so as to not have his wife become nervous.
He climbed the stairs and opened the door to a smoke filled bar, with a jukebox and beaten up dark brown tables. Three toothless heroes playing 8 ball and the "blonde" with plastic boobs serving drinks behind the bar. Someone was shouting something incoherently... John felt a headache coming on. He found his friend, sat down and let his friend lead the conversation. After a good 15 minutes had passed, he leaned over to tell his buddy something.
John- listen, you ever feel like your holding back? I mean, you ever wonder what would happen if you told the truth, all the time?
Tom- I’m an honest person, I don’t know about you…
J- no really man, you don’t get me. I mean listen I have feelings and ideas that if they got out aloud, and the wrong people heard them…
T- you’re not gay are you?
J- fuck off! You’re not listening man, I’m being serious here...can’t we ever be really straight for once with each other? Look I like spending time with you in this joint, we come here every Sunday evening, to play pool, have a few laughs…check out chic’s…but that’s as far as it goes…
T- ahh man if I knew you were going to be so depressing…
J- so I can’t talk to you about stuff man? We're just pals, chilling out together, just farting around.
T- look man, you can talk to me, it’s just that Lucy and I have been arguing lately and I just wanted to relax…
J- about what?
T- the same shit man, forget it …lets play…you gonna break or what?!
J-tell me, Tom.
T- she says I’m drinking too much and that we haven’t had enough sex lately and she thinks that I am seeing someone else, or something…fuck I don’t know, dude…women are fucked up, man. I can’t figure her out sometimes…maybe she’s on the rag.
J- well is she?
T- what the hell do I know, buddy…you a doctor now?
J- you see we don’t know anything cause we don’t ask straight questions and we are afraid of the answers anyway…so we run around our whole lives in the dark thinking we’re ok, we got it made, all figured out, everything in its proper place…yet we never really face the real truth that’s sitting with us in the room.
T- God you gonna be like this all night?
J- Listen man…the truth is we don’t know anything…it’s just a Goddamn crap shoot!
T- Ok that does it! For fuck sakes, what’s up with you? What the hell are you on? You’ve been doing drugs again, NOW that’s the real damn truth sitting with us in the room! That’s for sure…
J-come here sit down.
T- your not going to let this thing go are you?
T- ok, ok…I’ll listen.
J- I can trust you right?
J- ok, here it is; I hate my life, Tommy.
T- shit, man who doesn’t? You me and the boys, we’ve been working at that shitty site for years doing the same goddamn thing over and over again, but hey man everybody, all around the world is doing this shit man, it’s not just you man…look it just takes a vacation.
J- no, I think I am going to quit.
T- are you crazy or what!? You have a family to support, you can’t just walk away…
J- I’ve gotta to do something Tom. I am dying inside. I have been trying to explain things to my wife and she’s willing to trust me, if I have a real plan…something that might work, I think she would support me.
T- so more power to you…what’s stopping you? Lots of people get new jobs…why you freaking out about it?
J- Jobs!? That is so typical…I don’t want a fucking job, man…I want a life! A real, deep and meaningful life…something that will outlast my existence here on earth! Something…spiritual.
T-Jesus, here you go again with this jargon…what happened to you? You think you’re a priest or something? You wanna save the world, now?
J- oh shut up! Look if you can’t handle this topic, then I’ll just be quiet, but this feeling won’t go away…
T- what feeling?
J- like I have a purpose.
T- Jeeezzze. Look, you have a wife, 2 beautiful boys, a house in a nice neighbourhood…you got influential friends, or at least you wife does…maybe they can help you…
J- I don’t want what they want … And yes I love my family…its just…
T- just what? Hey maybe you should take that trip to Cuba…with the guys from school…your wife won’t mind you running off getting out of her hair…just go over there and get fucking loaded, laying around on the beach, air out your head, get a massage, get laid…forget about all this question and answer bullshit…you’ll see things will be alright…Johnny!? Hey man…be cool…don’t think so much…stress is bad for your health…shit man, know look who’s the doctor?!
J- I gotta go…bye…see ya at work…
John gets up from the table, looks around the bar for a moment, looks at his buddy, Tom…forces a smile on his face then turns and leaves.
T- Johnny! Hey... Come here!
John gets home, at 11:34. He feels tipsy, although he hasn't had much to drink. Upon entering his apartment, he finds his wife sitting on the couch, wrapped up in a blanket, sipping tea, watching the late evening news. There has been a disaster of some kind in some remote place in the world, where the children are starving and the men of the village are looking for survivors.
John: Hi. I'm a little later than I had planned.
Gale: (his wife): What's that? Sorry, I’ve been watching this all evening.
J: Fine. (deep sigh )
G: You ok?
J: Yeah…(pulls off his boots) Yeah. (John makes his way to the other side of the living room, takes off his pants and sweater, goes to the fridge and gets a beer, cracks it open, takes a swig, sits down on the far end of the couch, then stares off into space, exhausted.)
G: Hey…you don’t look alright…Hard day at work…?
J: Not really. Boring actually.
G: Then what? (she lowers the TV down a bit)
J: It happened again.
G: John! Listen I told you to go see Dr. Williamson. He’s family. Please John. ( John takes another big gulp of the beer) Did anyone…see you? I mean…really John. We have a family to raise now…
J: Shh. Don’t worry about it. It’s fine…
G: (cuts him off) Fine? If you don’t call him, then I will. He can help you…Are you listening to me?
J: Yes. (he gets up to get another beer) It was different this time. I could feel it coming. I was aware, completely aware of my surroundings, like I was back over there, it was strange.
G: But you’re not in a combat zone anymore. There are no more enemy targets. You are not a soldier anymore. Look at me! (he looks her in the eyes) You know that, don’t you, John? You understand that right!?
G: We’ve been over this two years ago, when you first went through your initial debriefing. Dr. Williamson said…
J: Listen, I know what he said. I’ll be fine. I can contain this, this…
G: (she moves towards him, and gently places her hand on his cheek) Tell me the truth, John. Have you hurt anyone?
J: They’ll live. After I disabled one, the other ran off, then I got that splitting headache again…I jumped into a cab and now I'm here, that's all.
G: What happened out there…?
J: Same thing…it’s always the same fucking thing with these retards!
G: Keep you voice down.
J: I thought…I mean they…One of them had a gun…Maybe…(John rubs his head, his headache isn’t gone yet, he takes another sip of his beer)
G: Are you sure?
J: It’s dark out…but I’m sure. Look, they’ll be fine. I taught them a lesson, that’s all. Nobody saw it take place, the streets were empty…lets forget about it, please.
(There is a pause)
G: Ok, John…ok. (she gives him a hug) Just fix this thing. Ok?
J: Ok, in the morning I’ll call Dr. Williamson, I promise.
Gale, goes to the washroom. John lifts his bottle and drains his beer. He falls onto the couch and closes his eyes. His wife takes a while getting ready for bed, John slowly sinks deeper into the couch and lets himself slip out of reality…Nothing now, but the re-occurring dream playing out behind his heavy eye lids. In this dream John is the pilot if a comercial airliner... And he is trying to solve the mechanical problem in the cockpit. Nothing is working and the plane is slowly running out of fuel. The dream is always the same, he leaves the cockpit, looking for his co-pilot, who must be on break, speaking with the stewardess yet when he opens the door, he finds that the plane is empty. There are no passengers and no one else there at all. John is alarmed and tries to return to the cockpit but is gripped with fear once he realises that he has locked himself outside of the cockpit. He struggles with the door but to no avail. John then gives up, gets a bottle of whisky out of a fridge sits down in one of the passenger seats, and slowly drinks his last drink remembering his wife and children, looking at a photo of them that he always keeps with him. As John sips on his drink he listens to the engines rumble, as the plane rattles quite harshly, as he puts his seat belt on the plane starts it's final decent groaning wildly, crying ever so closely heaving towards the big dark blue of the Pacific...
And then John wakes up. His alarm clock is going off and it is 5:00 in the morning. He looks around his apartment and realizes that he has slept in his clothes once again. He is drenched in sweat.