~ written sometime in 1998 ~
The abrupt sound of knocking on the door echoed throughout the studio and startled him. Aside from his parole officer, he had no other company to expect.
“Mister Johns, you in there?” That was the annoying voice of the landlord, Albert McFarland coming from behind the door. The man went by Al. His voice reminded Maynard of Jackie Gleason on that old sitcom The Honeymooners. McFarland knocked again.
Hold your damn horses, he wanted to say. He opened the door to see the short rotund man as he stood there with a cheap cigar in his mouth. McFarland gave him a once-over, a look of suspicion in his sharp gray eyes.
“Yeah, what can I do for you?” Maynard said, his morning voice untested and rough.
“Just came to have a look at those blinds,” McFarland said. “And I forgot to mention your air unit ain’t exactly up to snuff either.”
Was that all? Maynard didn’t buy it.
“Mind if I come in for a sec?”
“Well, I was just on my way out.” Maynard said. “I’m all out of squares, figured I’d go down to the Village Pantry for some.”
“Mister Johns, I can inspect them without you being here.”
For some reason he didn’t want the man to set foot in his home sniffing around for whatever things his obvious suspicions inspired him to. It reminded him of a prison warden.
“This won’t take but a second, Mister Johns.”
McFarland stepped inside with a notepad, observed the blinds and made his notes. “Prison, huh? What’s that like, if ya don’t mind my asking?”
“I see word gets around.”
“No way Jennifer at the office wouldn’t tell me something like that, Mister Johns.”
“Well, let’s just say I’m a changed man, Mister McFarland. Completely rehabilitated and reformed. I’m not one to dwell on the past.”
McFarland said, “Well, I’m sure you understand some folks might not be comfortable with the idea of a known felon in the building—”
“That’s former felon—”
“Well,” McFarland said having worn out his welcome already, “Don’t take it too personal if folks act a little skittish around ya.”
McFarland took a quick glance around the studio and then made his way to the door.
“So about those blinds and the air conditioning,” Maynard said.
“I’ll get my maintenance guy on it. Might be a week or so.”
Maynard shook his head at the ridiculous wait time and let McFarland out. The portly landlord entered the hallway and wobbled toward the stairwell that led to the upper levels.
“Now you have yourself a good day, Mister Johns.”
“Every day of freedom is a good day, Mister McFarland.”
Taken from my story “All Things Considered”, a previously published work now being expanded into a novella. © 2010 Brandon L. Rucker.