Home > Turbulence(8)

Author: Whitney G.

I headed straight to an open elevator and swiped my key card at the panel. When I was sure no one else was coming onto the car, I held my card against the panel once more and pressed “80,” the penthouse suite.

Every resident in this building was one of New York’s esteemed elite—judges, politicians, doctors, lawyers, but they were all paying exorbitant prices to simply rent one of the four massive units offered on each floor. My floor, however, was mine and mine alone. It had a long history and had always been owned. Although I hardly ever used it, I refused to sell it back to the building’s owners, no matter how large and lucrative their offers grew year after year.

The second the elevator doors opened, I stepped off and disabled the security cameras that were hidden in the hallway vases. I double checked their wires to make sure they hadn’t been tampered with and returned them to their hiding spots.

Unlocking the double doors that led inside my apartment, I took off my jacket and hit the lights. For the most part, everything was just as I left it—except for the usual shit the housekeepers insisted on rearranging.

Annoyed, I realigned the collectible Coke cans on my counter, returned my chilled wine bottles to their original positions, and re-latched the windows that lined my living room and parlor room walls. I tossed a few misplaced “Welcome to The Madison” tour brochures into the trash, and turned the air on high to tone down the new strawberry scent they sprayed onto every single surface. Then I moved my parlor chair far away from the window where it belonged.

I walked through room after room, already knowing what was out of place since I went through this routine every few weeks.

When I was sure everything was alright, I walked into my private library and damn near lost it. All five hundred of my books were now rearranged by color instead of alphabetically. To make matters worse, my favorite three books were spread wide open on my desk, with several of their pages folded and creased. An unforgivable offense.

I pulled out my phone and sent an email to the housekeeping manager.

Subject: My Goddamn Condo.

To whomever this may fucking concern,

For the umpteenth time, I don’t appreciate your incompetent and defiant staff rearranging my things while I’m away. I also don’t appreciate you continuing to use my unit as a tour site and “test suite” for potential renters—letting people pretend like they live here whenever they please.

Stay the hell out of my space if you’re not cleaning it. (And stop using that strawberry spray shit. Go back to lemon.)

J. Weston

The manager’s response was immediate.

Subject: Re: My Goddamn Condo.

Mr. Weston,

With all due respect, and for the umpteenth time, we have only used your suite for a tour once, with your permission. We do not use your unit as a “test suite” and we would never let any potential renter pretend as if they lived there.

We’ve given in to every single demand you’ve requested for your privacy—extra cameras, ensuring that no one on the housekeeping staff outside of myself knows your name, and private parking. In fact, just for you, we’ve recently installed an additional set of cameras above your exterior entry door to ease your worries, and per our security team, there has been no access to your space (outside of cleaners) while you’ve been away.

However, we have noticed that over the past few weeks, YOU have come back more frequently than normal, and during odd hours of the night.

I am not insinuating that you don’t remember these times, but perhaps you’ve moved things around your apartment during those hours and are simply forgetting how you left them?

I apologize if anything I’ve said is offensive or out of line.

We truly enjoy having you as a resident here at The Madison, and if you need anything more, or anything else, let me know. (I will be sure to remind the staff, once again, to stop using the “strawberry spray shit” in your place. We no longer have lemon, though...Would you like fresh linen instead?)

Mr. Sullivan

Head of Housekeeping

The Madison at Park Avenue

I didn’t answer. I needed to think.

The last few times I slept here, I hadn’t really “slept” at all. I’d woken up in a cold sweat and stumbled out of bed and downstairs. Damn near sleepwalking, I’d staggered around a near desolate Times Square, staring at the bright and blinking billboards, listening to the late night conversations of straggling tourists.

Each time I found my way home, I did move things—but not in a rearranging type of way. In a shattering whatever I could get my hands on type of way. Whatever I broke, I quickly replaced the next day so no one on the staff could be blamed, but I couldn’t remember ever having the patience to mindlessly rearrange simple shit.

The few other times I returned at odd hours of the night were the result of me coming back after meeting a woman in a hotel. Those nights always ended in sleep, not senseless redecorating.

At least, I didn’t think so.

I took a seat on the sofa that faced the window and mentally rewound the past few months again and again, slowly recalling a few more wandering, sleepless nights. I started to send the manager a “My apologies for the miscommunication” email, but I spotted an open crossword puzzle tucked under my seat cushion. A completely filled out, not-in-my-goddamn-handwriting, crossword puzzle.

I flipped through the pages of the booklet, noticing that not only was the top page completed, but every single puzzle was marred and solved with someone else’s blue and black ink.

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