Monday, November 14, 2005


The fridge handle digs into my back as Halitosis gets in my face. The Gorilla stands behind him watching.

You learn in jail is when to fight and when to take the shit and stay cool. Right now I'm out numbered. Nobody is going to back me up on this play. I decide it's a good time to 'stay cool'.

I guess most people hate being scared unless it's one of those crazy sports like sky diving or shark baiting where getting the shit scared out of you is why people do it.

One thing I especially hate is a scary surprise-like this. I knew a guy one who had cancer and was going to die soon. He was like a saint with a big smile on his face all the time. He was nice and kind to everyone. He'd been scared so long he'd either gone nuts or found some way to let it go.

I try reasoning with Halitosis.

"I didn't find anything," I tell him. "Have a look around if you want."

Sweat runs down my forehead and into my eyes.

Halitosis turns to the Gorilla. "Hear that Joey, the Super says we can look around." He has a cold nasty laugh.

I'm getting tired of this shit. I feel myself starting to get angry. I'm not a big guy. Still in good shape for a guy who'll never see 40 again. Wiry is how I've heard myself described. I haven't got a lot of bulk but what's there is hard as rock.

Halitosis notices the jail house tattoo on my right fore arm. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

"You look like one of those little punks who gives good head in the can," playing with me now.

I feel the blood coming up into my face.

"He look like a cocksucker to you Joey?"

Joey nods. He seems a bit uncomfortable with the topic.

"Would you let lover boy here chew on your knob?"

"Probably not," Joey says, but he doesn't seem certain.

Halitosis whips around to look at his companion. "What do you mean probably not?"

"Not unless I was in jail!"

"You just got out of jail!"

"That's what I mean!"

Halitosis shakes his head in disgust. Then he turns back to me. He hands me a slip of paper.

"That's my cell number. Call me if our merchandise shows up."

My shoulders drop and I take a deep breath as they walk to the door. Halitosis stands there a second with his hand on the handle and turns to me.

"You better look around real hard super or maybe we'll come back and pay a visit to that little wife of yours with the cane and gimp leg."

The door closes and I exploded. I run to the toolbox and grab my hammer. I'm going to kill both of those fucking scumbags.

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Paul Corman

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


The two cops do a quick look around apartment 602. They toss the closets and look under the stained mattress. They seem disappointed that I'm right. The smell is garbage and rotted food, not a dead body.

The place is a mess but fortunately the tenant wasn't here long enough to properly trash the place. There's a black hand print on a kitchenette cupboard. The two big cops stand with their heads together checking it out. Their bulk fills the little cooking area. They finally decide it's not blood.

As they leave, the cop with donut sugar on his tie gives me his card. Detective Sergeant Ian Small 52 Division. I spent a couple of nights in their fine establishment when I was younger. I don't mention that to him. They'll find out easy enough if they want to.

I call Property Management and explain the situation. They tell me to go ahead and clean the place up. I haul six bags of garbage to the Dumpster. The furniture and kitchen stuff goes in the storage area in the basement. I'll keep it another month in case 602 makes a reappearance. From past experience I figure that's not going to happen.

The carpet cleaner come early the next morning. I leave the windows and balcony door open drying the place out. The apartment has an excellent view to the east and I stand out on the balcony smoking a doobie to motivate my creative side. The Maples and Ailanthus trees are changing in Cabbage Town and down along the Don Valley. The dark golds and reds are saturated and brooding under an overcast sky.

I do some painting in the kitchen. Just before one o'clock Denise calls my cell and tells me she's made some lunch.

I sit beside her in the second bedroom, eating a sandwich while she works. She's had a busy morning, logging some hours. She's chatting to three different guys at the same time her fingers flying quickly across the keyboard.

Up in the corner of the screen are three little boxes showing the live cam girls she's using. Guy number one is asking Denise to take off her bra. Denise speaks to one of the live-cam girls, who's listening to her on a conference box. A second later she's thrusting her tastefully augmented tits at the screen. I look at my watch. It's 1:30 PM. I guess some guys have all day to jerk off.

Denise and I chat for a few minutes between customers. Planning the weekend. Maybe a drive out to Pickering to see her son. Spend some time with his family and get our fill of young kids.

I know there is something wrong as soon as I step back into 605. It isn't anything I can put my finger on until I notice that the ladder has been moved away from the cupboard I was painting. Someone has searched the place.

They've been waiting in the bedroom. The one in charge is short and has that little guy attitude. His big friend probably looked like he could kill without a thought even when he was a baby.

I'm about to say something when the little guy gets right in my face and backs me up against the fridge. "We're friends of Johnny Morgan, the guy who used to live here," he says. "You remember him?"

I nod my head yes trying not to let my fear show. He has bad teeth and his breath stinks. Probably a plus when you're in the intimidation business.

"We think our friend left something behind when he moved out. Maybe you came across it while you was cleaning, eh!"

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Paul Corman

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


I'm watching the original Dragnet show on the History Channel when the intercom buzzes. I don't know how the show rates as History-maybe just because it's really old. It was one of my dad's favorites.

I get up from the couch and walk into the hall where the intercom is stuck on the wall. I assume the buzzer is a tenant who's forgotten their key and wants me to let them in. I don't mind except after 11 PM when I give them a little attitude.

It's not a tenant. It's two police detectives.

I let them in, grab my keys and take the stairs up to meet them.

I have a pretty good idea why the cops are here. Morgan, John. Apartment 602. Moved in two months ago with his wife Morgan, Janet. Have not seen her since. Almost no furniture. Last months rent cheque bounced. All the precursors for a visit from the law.

They ask me the usual questions in the elevator. When did he move in? When was the last time I saw him? Any parties or complaints from other tenets? They must have a page in the police procedural manual. How to interview the superintendent.

I cooperate. No sense making waves with the law. I've called them myself before. No doubt I'll call them again.

I ask if they've got a warrant. They say no. All they want me to do is open the door so they can look in. They're not going to enter the premises.

The tall one with donut sugar on his tie knocks hard on the door.

"Police, Mr. Morgan," he says in a loud voice. "Open the door!"

Three other doors on the floor open. People stick their heads out and quickly pull them back in when they see me with the cops. No response from 602, Morgan, John, rent delinquent and probable perpetrator of a criminal malfeasance.

I turn the key and step to the side quickly in case there's any gunplay. The cops don't even make the effort to put their hands on their guns. Another myth shattered.

The apartment stinks.

"That smell like a body to you," the tall one asks his partner. Cop number two sticks his head inside and sniffs his nose twitching like a rabbit in a carrot patch.

"Could be," he says.

"Garbage," I tell them. I'm the expert when it comes to apartment smells. The living room floor is littered with pizza boxes. A slice has been crushed into the carpet and has gray mold growing all over it. Another shitty clean up job.

"I think we got probable," the tall one says. They both look at me. I shrug. Suit yourselves I tell them. They're covering their asses incase there's fall out. Technically with rent in arrears almost a month it could be said that as the legal representative of the owners I have the right to enter the premises.

I delegate that responsibility to the guys with guns.

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Paul Corman

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


There is dog piss in the elevator again this morning and I'm sure it's Mrs. Timpkin's terrier from apartment 705.

Is see her later and ask if she knows anything about it. She gets all huffy and changes the subject pointing out to me that the grass hasn't been cut for two weeks and is becoming an embarrassment whenever she has company. I politely remind her that outdoor maintenance is not my responsibility. No Christmas tip from her this year. The bitch.

I wipe up some of the piss with a paper towel and put it in a zip lock baggie in the freezer. I've got Denise searching the Internet for someplace that does DNA tests that can match it to her dog. I just need to get a fur sample.

I asked Mr. Flint, from the company that manages the building, if they could put in a surveillance camera. He tells me he'll check with legal but he's pretty sure there's a law against it. More likely they're too fucking cheap to spend the money.

Denise says I should stand up to him. That's easy for her to say. She doesn't have to deal with the bureaucracy every day.

Anyway, I come back to the elevator with a pail of hot water and pine smelling disinfectant to give the floor a good mopping. I have my key in the control panel to keep the elevator down on the basement floor when someone presses the call button and makes the bell ring. They wait about five seconds and then hold their finger on the button. I pull out the key and the door snaps shut before I can get out and I have to ride all the way up to the ninth floor.

I'm not surprised it's the Thompson girl from 917. Dody or Fody. Some weird name like that. When the door opens she's standing there with a cigarette in her mouth.

The car lurches when the door closes. I make a note to myself to call the elevator people and have them look at it.

Dody or Fody or what ever her name is has her usual black lipstick and masses of eyeliner that makes her look like a raccoon. Her hair is died so black it's purple in the elevator's fluorescent lights.

She ignores me.

"It's a non smoking building," I say in my pretend friendly voice.

"Does it look like it's lit?" she snaps thrusting it at me like she wants to stab me in the eye with it. Someone got up on the wrong side of the bed.

"No school today?" I ask, trying for casual chitchat to break the ice.

"Cause it's Saturday. Duuh!"

We settle into peaceful co-existence until we hit the ground floor.

"Smells like piss in here," she says as the door opens.

She stops in the foyer and lights her cigarette taking a couple of deep puffs and exhaling before pushing open the glass doors and stepping out into the street.

About ten minutes later Mr. Flint comes in for his weekly inspection. I'm vacuuming the carpet by the front door. He gives an exaggerated sniff as if trying to locate the source of some nasty flatulent emission.

"You need to stop people from smoking in the building," he tells me taking out his pen and notebook.

"If we had a surveillance camera we could catch them," I say in my friendly team player voice. I think I've got him with that one.

"The grass needs cutting," he says in a voice that implies that it's my fault. His lips move as he writes himself a note.

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Paul Corman