Edwin Balder heard the pounding on his front door but did not go to it immediately. He turned to his right side and looked at the alarm clock. It read two in the afternoon. It couldn’t be, Edwin thought. He raised his head and it still hurt a little bit. How much had he drunk the night before? Judging by what welcomed him in the kitchen earlier in the day, a lot. The Plastic jug of scotch that Edwin had bought only lasted two days where it typically lasted a week, and there were two or three beer cans strewn about, random cans found in the back of the refrigerator after crawling back into his apartment from that fall. Edwin felt the side of his left leg. It was tender. The bruise was shaped like Australia and was black with a yellow-orange center. When Edwin saw it in the mirror he vomited and then went back to bed.
Someone pounded on the door again. Edwin put his pillow over his puffy, alcohol soaked face to drown out the sound, but he knew that he could not hide forever. Edwin had to get up and get himself directly to a bookstore, to find out what it was exactly that Natalie Presley had written about their life together. That conniving tramp! Edwin thought, tossing the pillow away and slowly rising from his mattress. How could she? Had he really been that bad to her? That deceitful? That untruthful? Enough to write an entire novel about him? Plus she’d beaten Edwin to the punch. True, he’d had his notes and character sketches done up for his own “break-up” novel, and Lord knows he entertained his fantasies of writing some massive Proustian or David Foster Wallace tome to the full extent. Edwin had his delusions of grandeur of setting the literary world ablaze, and making enough money to get out of his work situation (pre-corporate asset liquidation, of course). But it had come to nothing.
The knock on the door came again, urgent. Edwin assumed that it was some faceless, soulless representative of the building management come to serve him an eviction notice for the shenanigans that had taken place during the early morning hours, so he took his time dragging his wounded leg down the hallway. Edwin reasoned that if the building management was intent on tossing him to the streets, so be it. But he would not go down without taking Molly Brown and Gerhardt with him.
Edwin opened his door and Molly Brown was standing there holding a letter. Her hair was pulled back and tied with one of those retro “scrunchies.” She had hardly a stitch of make-up on and looked as though she’d been crying. Seeing Molly’s appearance this bare and pale, Edwin noticed just how pronounced her nose was on her face. Still, he felt a rumbling in his loins. Once again, Molly was wearing that “Brooklyn Girls Do It Better,” t-shirt and a pair of jeans that did not cover her mid-drift. Obviously the outfit was a popular one with Ms. Brown, Edwin thought. Or Matthew Joyless liked seeing her dress up like a 3rd Avenue hussy with an open invitation to free and proper fornication plastered across her small chest.
“Yes,” Edwin said, formally, of course.
“Edwin can I come in?”
“Now is not the time for me to be entertaining guests.”
“Please,” Molly said. And then she began to cry.
Edwin let her into his apartment and guided her toward his couch. He had Molly sit on the end the cockroaches typically stayed away from, and went into the kitchen to get her a drink while she sobbed. Edwin looked around and noticed a bottle of Pimm’s that he hadn't gotten to in his drunken state. He’d bought it over at Astor Wines in the city when on a New Orleans kick last summer. Edwin was going to learn how to make the world’s best Pimm’s Cup, but had never gotten around to buying the other drink components. He usually ended up taking a nip on the Pimm’s when he ran out of scotch. Two Pimm’s it would be, Edwin said to himself. He opened the refrigerator and there was not an ice cube to be found. Two Pimm’s neat, Edwin re-stated, throwing a shot into two glasses that may or may not have been entirely clean.
Edwin came back into the living room. He put the drinks on the coffee table and then sat on the other end of the couch while Molly continued to cry. He had no clue what to do. Edwin hated when women cried. Their tears made him nervous. Whenever Natalie cried Edwin had to leave the room. Sometimes he had to leave the apartment. If he was the one responsible for Natalie’s tears, Edwin often got on the R Train for a couple of days of male bonding with Lawson, never fully shaking the sight of his beloved’s crying, hoping she’d get over whatever he’d done and wouldn’t tear up anew when he returned home. And now this virtual stranger, this aching sex kitten, was sobbing in his apartment, on his side of the couch, where issues of McSweeny’s were read in comfort and Hot Pockets were consumed with the careless glee of a bachelor on the prowl.
“Molly, what is it?” Edwin asked, while trying to maintain his distance. The Chinese woman’s television blared through the walls, so he had something else to focus on. Thank goodness, Edwin said to himself, while pounding on the walls. Still, once the old hag turned down the television Edwin would still be left with the crying strumpet on his couch.
She held out the letter. “Did you get one of these?”
“I haven’t gotten my mail yet,” Edwin said.
Edwin took the letter and read it:
Dear Residents of the CrestSeal Apartments,
There have been some on-going issues with occupants in the building. We would like to address this issues and make sure everyone is aware of the policies and the consequences for violating these policies.
First off, we have received notice from the NYC Health Department about a complaint made regarding allege an unsanitary condition and pubic nuisance caused by pideon waste existing at the building. Residents must not allow pideons to create nuisance condition on private or pubic property. There violations can result in fines ranging from $300 to $3,500 per violation. We ask that you please DO NOT FEED PIDEONS.
A major concern we have is drugs. Their have been reports of residents smoking marijuana from specific apartments. No DRUGS of any kind will be tolerated. If it continues, the police will be notified and you WILL BE EVICTED. This is a final warning regarding this matter.
Edwin folded up the letter and handed it back to Molly.
“What do you think of it?” she said.
“I think that letter was written by an absolute illiterate,” Edwin said, sipping his Pimm’s. The alcohol turned his stomach a bit. “Not only should this person not have a job, they should be paraded around the city and beaten with thick, bamboo sticks.”
“I don’t even know what a pideon is,” Molly said. Then she began crying again.
“I’m sure it’s another word for homeless or vagrant. They seem to mill about more in the later winter, early spring.” Edwin had more Pimm’s. “Nevertheless, be careful whom you share your Egg McMuffins with would be my advice.”
“But what about the drugs, Edwin?” Molly said. through tears.
“Shhhh,” Edwin said. “Do you want them to raid us right now?”
“Matt and I were smoking marijuana last night.”
“Surely I don’t want to know anything about that,” Edwin said, rubbing his thigh.
Molly shook the letter. “Someone does!”
“Do you honestly believe that someone from the building management smelled your marijuana smoke, raced home and composed this letter last night?”
“They could have.”
“True. And judging by the prose it’s quite likely that they did. But I highly doubt that some corporate shill was lurking outside your door at four in the morning.”
“How did you know that we were smoking at four in the morning?” Molly asked.
Edwin took a long pull on his Pimm’s. Molly hadn’t touched hers. “I picked a random hour.” He was silent a moment. “Plus….well…I heard you.”
“You heard us?”
Edwin nodded and Molly began to cry again. He moved closer and tried his best to be comforting. Edwin patted Molly on the knee but all it did was give him a slight erection. “There, there, it’s not so bad.”
“I’m so embarrassed.” Molly looked up at Edwin. Her face was red and tear-stained. She had snot coming out of her nose, and Edwin thought that he was going to be sick again. To try and quell his shaky stomach, he got up and went back into the kitchen. Edwin got a paper towel for Molly, and a generous refill on the Pimm’s for himself.
“Really, you have to allow for these small embarrassments in apartments,” Edwin said, thinking back to the old upstairs neighbor who used to pound a broom handle on Edwin’s ceiling whenever he and Natalie made love, or, later, when Edwin was drunk, alone, and loud.
“I had a fight with Matt today as soon as I saw this letter,” Molly said.
“What was it over? His PS3?”
“No.” She gave Edwin an irritated look. “It was over the pot, Edwin.”
“Of course!” Edwin had more Pimm’s. “And did you send Mr. Joyle…Joy packing as was your right?”
“Matt doesn’t smoke pot,” Molly said. “I do.”
“I’m sure we can frame him,” Edwin said. “Make it look as though he took advantage of you.”
“I don’t want to frame him. He’s mad at me because I won’t stop. I lit up a J after we….and he started yelling at me.”
“Hence the rap music on full tilt?”
“I’m so sorry about that,” Molly said.
“Well, as they say in the game, life ain’t nothin’ but bitches and money.”
Molly smiled a little and then turned sad. “He left like right after the fight. It was still dark out. That creep, Gerhardt, was in the hallway. He started yelling at Matt about the scent of marijuana and about flushing toilets. It took forever for him to go back inside his place.”
“Talk about a man I’d like to frame and send up the river,” Edwin said.
“And I haven’t heard from Matt since he left,” Molly said. She started crying again. “I don’t know if he got home safe or what.”
Edwin looked at his watch. It was nearly three in the afternoon and he hadn’t even showered or ranted in his journal. “Dear, what you must do is go back to your apartment and call this Matthew Joy.”
“Yes…Matt. You need to call him and straighten this business out right now.”
“You sound like you’re trying to get rid of me,” Molly said. She stood up from Edwin’s couch.
“I’m not,” Edwin said. “After all, we have a standing date to listen to Gershwin. It’s just….it’s just that this cruel woman has written a book about me, and I must get to a bookstore and get a copy so that I can begin building my legal defense.”
“Someone wrote a book about you?” Molly said. Her face brightened. Edwin was not surprised. The young these days were easily tempted by the slightest bit of celebrity. He thought perhaps to use this to his gain, but decided against it in Molly Brown’s delicate shape.
“I highly doubt that,” Edwin said.
Molly was quiet a moment. “Can I come to the bookstore with you?”
“Please. I’m having such a bad day, and I really could use the company.”
“I…I guess so,” Edwin said. He motioned for Molly to sit back down on the couch. She did. “You stay here. Take in the ambiance while I shower and get myself ready.”
“I have to say, you look terrible today, Edwin,” Molly said. She finally picked up her Pimm’s and had a drink.
Edwin smiled. “And I don’t see much chance for improving as the hours wane.”
“I hope you know that I was kidding.”
Edwin went over and looked at himself in the mirror. “No you weren’t dear.”
They were silent a moment and then Molly Brown leaped up off the couch. “Pigeons!”
“That’s what they meant in the letter,” Molly said. “Pideons are Pigeons!”
“Obviously,” Edwin said. And then he went into the bathroom, closed the door, and began running the hottest shower that he could stand.