“Your apartment is a lot cleaner than my other tenants’, Tim,” the man in the doorway says, craning his neck over Tim’s shoulder. He speaks with a lot of bottom teeth, even though he isn’t entirely elderly. His tone is a yelled whisper. “That’s what I love about you: you’re my most beautiful and cleanly tenant. I would be entirely shattered to lose you from the City View Villa family.”
“I appreciate that, Mr. Donnersled….” Tim says. He starts to close the door. “I need to hop in the shower before work-”
“You might have heard me knocking on everyone’s door down the row, and I’ve just been saying, ‘Hey! I got into the landlord business for family. And as a family, we need the place fumigated. So, I’m asking everyone up front for a little advance on their rent in order to fumigate the property.’ Because, Tim, if I lose any of you on account of swarms of things, I am going to be hard hit.”
“Are you close with some of the tenants?” Tim asks.
“None as close as us, Tim. No one says ‘hi’ in the hallway quite like you. But I try to keep anyone from leaving, you know there is a bit of turnover.”
“I had heard that.”
Mr. Donnersled can’t hide his devastation. “That’s the word, huh? Well, I bought an espresso machine to make everyone happy,” he says, gesturing the size of the machine with wide arms. “However, we don’t have a foyer, so I put it in my apartment, Tim. And I sent out a memo on the cork boards, and as you know, no one wants to come knocking. Apparently, knocking on my door is too much of a hurdle for espresso!”
“I really have to go, I’m going to be late for work.”
Mr. Donnersled’s gaze lands on a cardboard box, and he goes silent. It is such an impactful silence that Tim pauses. “What are you doing with those Home Depot boxes? Making a fort?”
“No, I’m just getting some things together.”
“You’re leaving me, aren’t you Tim?” he says, droopy eyes glistening. “I can’t lose you, Tim. You’re like a beautiful son. And if I lose you, the City View Villa family won’t survive.”
“I’m sure you’ll be fine, Mr. Donnersled,” Tim says.
“I won’t!” he says, voice jumping a few registers. “What can I do to keep you? Do you want the espresso machine? What if I get the place fumigated?”
Tim sighs. “Actually, yeah. I was going to stay with my girlfriend while I looked for a place. If you do those two things, I’ll stay.”
Mr. Donnersled drops to his knees. “Wonderful, Tim!” He hugs his legs. “I’ll get the advance from another tenant to have the place fumigated, as long as you stay.”
Originally published at https://www.tumblr.com on January 24, 2020.