It was another mandatory building meeting and the janitor forgot the talking stick. Everyone sat on beanbags and settled for passing around a pineapple.
The fruit was kindly donated by Karla from 3B. The hallway to her apartment always smelled of coconut oil. Karla invited me for mimosas once and told me to bring my flip flops. I obeyed. Upon arrival, everything became clear. But not clear at all. Karla replaced linoleum with sand and grew a small palm tree in the middle of her kitchen. She was the type of woman that always smelled fresh. And I mean really fresh. She would squeeze lemon juice on her body and use it instead of soap.
“So, here are the news,” the janitor paused. “Adrian has passed away last night.”
“Oh, poor baby boy. He was so sick,” cried Karla.
Adrian Hansen was a Danish architect with internal disease that caused all sorts of hives. I read in the morning paper that he scratched himself to death. Many stories are left of him, one being that he could never find the perfect way to fit vacuum’s head into a room’s corner. So he became an architect and designed a building big and round like an egg. This is where we are now. In a giant egg.
“Does this mean we can finally change the elevator music?” said the man from 1A.
I had to hold myself back from chuckling. I’ll explain why. He went by the name Buzz and drilled his walls every Thursday. The noise began to feel like part of the weekly routine. Buzz also liked to play his music loud. I was curious about his collection at first. With time, I came to the realization that he has no taste. As long the song changes, he’s okay with anything. His only consistency is noise.
“I’ve noticed the numbers on the buttons wearing off,” whispered Jack shakingly.
He wouldn’t go anywhere without goggles. Jack was obsessed with sight and rejected anything that distorted his vision. That applied to his diet as well. He didn’t drink, smoke or take drugs.
“Where’s the orange juice? No orange juice?” the old man kept pacing in the back of the room.
The building was famous for it’s athlete. It was a retired tennis player in his sixties. He was always seen with a headband and white shorts. He brought his racket everywhere he’d go, even when he went out to eat. Sometimes he would do jumping jacks while waiting in line.
“How does that make you feel?” asked the janitor.
“Thirsty,” said the man twisting his right moustache.
“This is what you think about after receiving such horrid news?”
“Hot lady, don’t test me.”
Karla rolled her eyes and began straightening out the wrinkles on her skirt.
“You have a few more on the back of your shirt,” Jack leaned towards Karla, whispering in her ear.
“Can you quit bouncing your balls around? It messes with the ambience,” Buzz stretched out his arms and drew a circle around himself in the air.
“Dinner. What’s for dinner?” the old man showed no attention towards Buzz. He continued to chew rapidly the almonds he occasionally pulled out of his pockets.
The meeting went for another twenty minutes. As each returned to his own world, some chatted on their way out. They all had two things in common. The two things that I lacked: innocence and pleasure. For some, it takes their whole life to figure out how deadly such combination can be. Some die without ever knowing.
I wrote “NO OUTBREAKS OF VIOLENCE” on the form with today’s date and shut off the monitor. I turned the lights out on my way out. Before leaving, I caught a glimpse of the stacks of files on my desk. I thought to myself, “maybe they’re not crazy, maybe they’re just lost”.