“You aren’t going to talk in Jungle Book mishmash bullshit a whole lot, are you?,” asked Moira.
“Hell, no,” Bob assured her. “I just thought it was funny to say right then. I wasn’t enjoying dancing around in a bear costume, much. But the money was good, and I thought I’d get a kick out of being famous, for once. The reality of it was going to be theatres full of screaming kids. Nobody was going to hear a word I said. Plus, I mentioned the bear costume, right?”
Bob headed toward the elevators. “What we need to do now is get you people comfortable until the meeting. I’ve worked in the Houseman. Not exactly homey. I bet you’ll all enjoy having real showers and sleeping in real beds. We’ve got lots of apartments, obviously. We can split you up or put you in a big one together, whichever you’d prefer.”
“We aren’t going to be in dead people’s apartments, are we?,” Jill asked, as we jammed into an elevator.
“Frankly, you are. Well, the people might dead. They haven’t come back. It might feel a little uncomfortable, but we don’t have a lot of choice, here. There are maybe five truly empty apartments in the building. They are all gutted. Cleaned out, waiting for remodeling. Recently…er…VACATED apartments are going to be a helluva lot more comfortable.” The elevator dinged that we’d arrived on the tenth floor.
When we stepped off the elevator, we were confronted with a hallway full of furniture and screaming people.
“I’ve waited for a three bedroom for FIVE YEARS,” a thirty-something woman wailed. “My youngest, Teresa, lives in a closet! My hand to God, my baby’s room is a walk in closet!”
“Screw you, bitch,” a gay man snarled. “Eddie and I have been on the list for TEN years. We can’t adopt if we don’t have a kid’s room.”
A lady shoving a microwave cart growled, “My mother has been living with us for months, now. I want to sit on my sofa and watch TV, again. MY LIVING ROOM IS HER BEDROOM!!! MY SON SEES HER IN HER UNDERWEAR! I NEED THAT APARTMENT!!!!”
“WHOA!!!!,” Bob yelled. Everybody totally ignored him and kept bumping their furniture into other people’s furniture. He put two fingers in his mouth and let go an ear-piercing whistle. Everybody instantly paused and looked at him, but they kept their hands on their furniture, tensed and ready to shove it into the coveted apartment.
“We agreed,” Bob said quietly, “that we wouldn’t poach other people’s space. We agreed that we wouldn’t want someone doing it to us, so we weren’t going to do it to them.”
“BUT…,” they all started simultaneously.
“But nothing,” Bob shouted. “My friends here need a place to stay. They are going into the three bedroom until they decide to move on or until the owners come back. Consider them subleasing. And consider them your new neighbors.”
Bob took out some kind of master key and ushered us into the apartment. The disappointed tenants were left to shove their furniture back into their own apartments. “You are still a bitch!,” we heard as Bob closed the door.
“Looks like it’s decided. I think keeping you all together will keep some peace on this floor. Hope you aren’t too cramped. Nice place, though.”
It was a nice apartment. I immediately felt jealous of the real tenants. All of us could have comfortably slept on the furniture in the living room, alone. The kitchen was actually eat-in. I didn’t have one single friend who had a real eat-in kitchen. The master bedroom had only one bed, but it was a huge bed, so just about any combination of us could share it without feeling too weird. What was probably a guest room had two single beds. The last room had bunk beds with Cinderella sheets.
“Dibs on the top!,” Jill squealed.
“You folks can figure everything out after I leave,” Bob said. “Get some rest, cook some real food. The meeting is in the basement, 6pm, sharp. There is a community room down there.”
“What’s the subject of this meeting?,” Mike asked as Bob stepped through the door.”
“Getting the hell out of Manhattan before we run out of food,” Bob said. And he closed the door.