There were people in Mike’s lobby. Lots of people, all gathered around the reception desk drinking what appeared to be wine. They seemed surprised to see us, because they all put down their glasses and yelled and charged our way. We yelled back and Mike whipped out the revolver and pointed it at the little old lady in the lead. That cooled their jets. Their little old jets. There wasn’t a person in the lobby under the age of 70.
“What are you doing here? This is a private building,” an elderly man in Bermuda shorts and an Izod shirt growled. He shook a wine stem at us.
“I live here,” Mike said. “I punched in my security code to get in the door.”
“You people don’t look like you have the money to live here,” Little Old Lady spat. Apparently having a gun pointed at her didn’t change her notions of class one bit.
“Oh, come on,” Moira said, “everybody in this city looks like they’ve been rolling in shit.”
“We know money when we see it,” Little Old Lady jutted her chin at Moira.
“I live in Mrs. Kelly Shew’s apartment,” Mike said. “The charity lady,” he added.
“We know who SHE is,” a big old lady rolled her eyes. “Always throwing parties for the less fortunate and then letting them live with her.”
“I’m not POOR,” Mike protested. I cleared my throat, remembering that I’d spent his last five bucks on a rat skewer. “And I don’t live with her. I rent from her. Big difference. Now, I’d like to go up to my apartment and get some rest.” He waved the gun in a vaguely menacing way.
“You won’t shoot us,” Little Old Lady sniffed at Mike, apparently feeling that having no money meant having no bloodlust.
“No, I probably won’t,” Mike admitted. “But, you don’t have a reason to keep us down here, and I doubt you can kick us out, so let us pass.”
“We do have a reason to keep you down here,” Bermuda Shorts informed Mike. “We are The Committee To Prevent Theft And Vandalism.”
“Have you seen the outside of your building?,” I asked.
“Not from the street,” Big Old Lady admitted. “Some of the apartments are a horrible mess. We had to shove one bird out of Missy’s apartment. Its head was stuck in the corner of the window.”
“We saw that one down on the sidewalk,” Moira said.
“Are you sharing apartments?,” I asked.
“What are you implying, there?!,” Bermuda Short snapped, and he shook his glass at me.
“Nothing, nothing! I just assume some of the apartments aren’t inhabitable, now.”
“You got that right,” Big Old Lady said, morosely. “Half of us have to share. We’ve had to close off the apartments with broken windows. Birds can get in, the smaller ones.”
At that moment the elevator dinged and a bejeweled old lady stepped out. “Now, now, Gertie,” the newcomer comforted Big Old Lady. “We’ll fix all of this. We might have to throw a helluva charity gala when things calm down, but we’ll fix all of this right up!”
“Mrs. Shew,” Mike said. “God, am I glad to see you. The neighbors won’t let me upstairs.”
“I’m not sure I’m going to let you upstairs, either, Michael. You left some very unseemly magazines on my coffee table,” Mrs. Shew gave Mike a cool look.
Mike flushed red. “I. Pay. Rent. I am pretty damned tired of you breezing in and out at all hours when I’ve paid to live there. ALONE.” He shifted the gun so it was pointing at Mrs. Shew. “Now tell your old fart friends to get the hell out of our way.”
“This is a no pets building,” protested Little Old Lady, pointing at Bethel, who was looking at her over the edge of the hamper.
Mike never took his eyes or the gun off Mrs. Shew as he spat, “We. Have. New. Rules. Now.”