“You white boys are always into that nerdy shit.”
The mild trembling of an arthritic hand broke through a beam of morning light as it stretched through the darkness and turned off a buzzing alarm. Settled next to the clock is a ragged name tag with the faded printing of the name, Mr. Jones. A local legend in his own right, Mr. Jones is the on-site landlord of a small inner city apartment building. Some say he’s been working and living here since the building was first built. Yet, nobody knows just how long ago that was.
This morning started off the same as every other one—Mr. Jones got up early and went through his normal morning work day routine: he showered, brushed his teeth, then ate his breakfast while listening to some of his favorite songs on the oldies radio station.
After going through his morning rituals, Mr. Jones stepped out of his tiny apartment and into the main hallway of the complex. With a casual stride, he walked down the quiet corridor towards his office; the thumping from his worn boots reverberated down the lonely hallway behind him.
Then an unusual sight stopped him mid stride. With fidgeting fingers and an unbalanced stance, there in front of is office door stood a tall, gangly white man. What does this cracker want, Mr. Jones thought to himself.
He approached the cracker with a tinge of apprehension. And just as he was about to ask the pale young man what he wanted, a pasty hand with popsicle stick like fingers shot straight out at him. Rather than reacting, Mr. Jones stood there for a long moment—letting the man’s hand dangle in the empty void between the two. With a look of confused anger staring back at him, the man knew he’d better state his intentions immediately.
“Hi, I’m Steve… Umm… I’m here for the job interview,” Steve the cracker said with a crackle.
Mr. Jones’ eyes narrowed with a hint of suspicion. Then, unexpectedly, he slammed his firm hand into the long awaiting palm of the surprised Steve. “Forgot you were coming in today son,” he said in a friendly tone.
“Oh… Well, I can come back another time if that’s better for you,” Steve replied.
“What? No, it’s alright. Might as well get this over with this.”
Steve followed Mr. Jones into the office and took a seat at an a plain wooden desk. They began what Steve would later refer to as “the boring part of the interview.”
“So, tell me, how did you hear about the job?” Mr. Jones went right into the interview like he had more important thing to attend to. “I mean, the last help wanted ad I put out was a long time ago.”
Steve sat up uncomfortably straight and started to shift around on the hard chair cushion. “Well, you see, I was doing some research for this… well,” he cleared his throat and started to speak louder, “it’s a comic book I’ve been trying to put out for a while now. I was looking through the archives of a horror comic book forum from the 90s, and the ad for this job came up in an old discussion. Some guy mentioned he applied for the job and all of this crazy stuff happened to him. Nobody believed him of course, but I got curious.
With fidgeting fingers and an unbalanced stance, there in front of is office door stood a tall, gangly white man.
So, I ended up looking for the address he mentioned. I eventually found the place on the map, but I couldn’t find the name of the building. I even managed to find the original help wanted ad in the antique newspaper section of the library. I didn’t think anyone was really going to answer the phone when I called the number from the ad—let alone think the job still existed after so many decades.”
“You always talk so much boy?
“I… well I, uhhh… I guess—“
“I see,” Mr. Jones interrupted. “Did you say you were working on a comic book?
Mr. Jones stared intently before breaking the silence. “You white boys are always into that nerdy shit.”
“I guess so.”
“Anyway, you ready to get started?”
“Started? With what?” Steve asked.
“I’m runnin’ late for my daily rounds. You coming with me or what?”
“Oh, I just thought it was going to be an interview. I didn’t realize I would be starting today.”
“Well, I don’t exactly have people banging down my door to work here. If you want the job, it’s yours. You seem smart enough to handle it… well, you can read at least. So, I repeat my question. You coming with me or what?”
“Yeah.” Steve hesitated as his nervousness crept back up. “Sure.”
“Good. Now put this jumpsuit on. It’s a one size fits all. You can just put it on over your clothes.” Mr. Jones stood up with Steve following his lead. “Jobs pretty simple. Not much you have to do when it comes to the day-to-day operations around here. Most of the time you just got the three floors. The first two floors have three apartments each, and the last floor has its own room just to itself.” He grabbed a big key ring off the desk and pointed Steve towards the door.
“That must be a real nice room to be all by its—,“ Steve started before losing his train of thought. “Wait, you said most of the time?
“Yes, now be quiet. I’m only going to go over this once, so pay attention.”
“First off, each floor has its own supply closet. You’ll find most of the things you’ll need for the job there. Now come on, we have work to do.” The two men walked down to the other end of the hall and up to the first door.