Spend enough time at this, and you become certain you are someone else’s puppet. Certainly, the ever-present call of the landlord’s demand for rent money, or the grocer and barkeeper wanting their tabs paid, leave your world revolving around their needs more than your own.
That is one thing that I’ve never seen change over my long years. Landlord, grocers, and barkeepers all want to be paid. J. Wellington Wimpy’s classic offer to “pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” is met with the same grace as it ever was, and ever will be.
So here I am, feeling the need to pick up one more client this month, and wondering where they will come from.
The dog at my door is not the usual client. But he walks in like he owns the place, looks around, and sits down where I’d expect a genuine client to figure out to sit, on the only other chair in the room. He pushed the chair to one side, of course. He’s a big dog, easily four feet at the shoulder standing, and likely well north of a hundred pounds. Quiet, though, as if he’s sizing me up.
I almost hesitate to ask, but I know how this works. “Can I help you?”
“Probably. You have a reputation, you know.” His voice is gruff, but understandable. Deep even given his size.
“You’re sure you don’t actually want to talk to George downstairs?”
“Yup. A few too many cats in that place. And I need your skills more than his.”
Most people might not have understood him. But George (really, his menagerie) has taught me a thing or two over the years. But he was right, the cats do tend to collect in George’s place. Especially the bigger ones. There’s a usually tiny tabby around here somewhere that thinks she owns my flat, but I don’t need her permission to talk to a dog. Besides, she usually makes herself invisible when a client is around.
“His cats do run his place. So if you’re here on purpose, you must be missing something, and it isn’t something you could just trace on your own?”
“Close. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’m usually called Apple. I’m here on impulse as well as based on what I’ve heard. But I’m not sure I’m ready to spill the whole story yet.”
“I’m Michel. A hundred a day plus expenses.”
“My rate. I usually don’t work for free.”
“Oh. George said he’d cover me. Said something about last month’s rent, and the month before that. He was pretty colorful, briefly, but the bottom line was bill him, out of the rent you owe him.”
Damn. Or, perhaps not. I’d have to give him the friends and family rate, but he is my landlord.
“I’ll discuss the fees with him. Now we should talk about why you are really here.”
“In good time, Michel. I’ll be back and try to explain what I need.”
With that, he stood up, and walked out.
He did close the door on the way.