All Guests Must Be Announced – Ch. 16

The lobby phone rang as it did often throughout the day, no matter who you were on the phone with, a tenant walking through the lobby would see you on the phone and automatically assume it was a personal call. It was not uncommon for a complaint to be made to Murphy about staff using the phone too much. 75 percent of the phone calls were tenants calling to complain about their neighbors, next door, across the hall, above them or below them. It was them narcing on one another for whatever mundane reason that currently irked them. Gerry looked at me to answer the call and I motioned my hand as if to say after you. He was seated closer to it. I continued to pet Ichabod, and fed him a snack in the form of little hamburgers while I half listened to Gerry’s exchange with whichever disgruntled shareholder on the other end of the line.

“Mea culpa, Ms. Bellitch.” Gerry hung up, peeved. 

“What’s the problem now?” I asked, as Ichabod licked my face. 

“She’s pissed I didn’t call up for her mother. Fucking cunt.” 

“You didn’t?”

“No, I didn’t. It’s her fucking mother. Drop the E double L from her name and that’s what you get. What a fucking bitch. She’d be on my list too if all the people who had forgotten about this washed up fuck wouldn’t come out in droves to mourn her and sing her glorious elegies. I wouldn’t do her the favor of rekindling her fame.” Gerry went into the coat room and opened a fresh can of Bud, “Bleh.” 

Kate Bellitch, was not the wealthiest tenant but definitely the most famous. An actress, with a string of hits to her credentials but in the decline of her career. And the award for most phony goes to…  Pretending to be a good human when you’re really a garbage person is not the same as smiling when you’re dying inside. They were not the same thing. One is a manipulation and the other is an attempt to keep from unloading your burden onto others. Very different masks. 

Ms. Bellitch recently became the face of a humanitarian organization, and fancied herself a philanthropist. All celebrities, A through the D list have to have an agenda, a crusade to battle for from the comfort of their homes and green screens, within the safe, pristine confines their money affords. She smiled and handed out food to the needy when the camera rolled but has her assistant call the police on the homeless guy begging for money on the corner of 57th street. She pled in commercials to send money to children in third world countries but wore clothes and bought products from companies that exploited those very children and their parents alike. She advocated for a healthier lifestyle and rallied against obesity as her personal chef prepared all of her food. She fully supported whatever cause was trending. No matter how horrible she behaved in real life, as long as she had the right keywords and hashtags and icons in her social media profile she was golden. 

People who are this self righteous never see how fraudulent they really are. It was all make believe, like her occupation. Smoke and coke mirrors. She was a good enough actress to make people think that she might be a decent human being, which she wasn’t. Just what the world needed was more out of touch celebrities preaching to everyone else about how we should live our lives. Step the fuck back. 

Academy award nominee Kate Bellitch lived in apartment 6C. Wally Backman wore no. 6. In ‘86 Wally hit 124 hits, only 1 home run and 27 runs batted in. If you go to the sixth floor when she is not shooting some drivel on location you can hear berating her step kids, her assistant, their piano teacher, her agent or maybe, her publicist. 

The Emmy award nominee’s mother had arrived a few minutes ago, a lovely woman. She brought home cooked food as she always did though her daughter refused to eat any of it. The maid took the leftovers and whatever else, because what wasn’t eaten got thrown away while people all over the world starved. We’ve always exchanged pleasantries, but Gerry made a grievous mistake of letting her go upstairs unannounced. The rule was all guests must be announced. All. No visitor shall pass without permission. The rule and the interpretation and application here were always in flux. 

It was understood if some random person, a stranger or stalker dropped by, we were a line of defense, I wouldn’t let just anyone have access to the building, but her parents? Were these people that disconnected with humanity? Decency? Reality? It was nauseating. Was it the status? Was it just to show off? A flex? A vulgar display of power, no doubt.

Shortly after the Golden Globe nominee’s father walked up to the front door which Gerry opened for him. 

“I’m here to see Ms. Bellitch,” said the father. He was the opposite of the mother, he acted like he met us for the first time every time he visited. Maybe she’s just like her father. Too bold?

“Hi, sir,” said Gerry, laying it on. “Just have a seat while I call up and announce you. There seems to be no answer.”

“Can’t I just go up?”

“I’m sorry but I’m forbidden to allow anyone up unannounced.”

“What’s with the drop cloths?”

“Oh those. It’s so you don’t see all of the blood.”

Other people came to 534 and walked right in and the father would look at them and then look at Gerry. I’ll try the line again. I’m sorry. No answer yet. The father was growing visibly annoyed. Gerry was intentionally calling the wrong apartment the entire time, a tenant that Gerry knew was not home. Finally, after a considerable amount of time passed, the lobby phone rang.

“Rainer, I got it,” said Gerry. “534. How can I help you?”

“Is my father in the lobby?” snapped Ms. Bellitch.

“Why, yes. I was trying to reach you but there must’ve been a glitch in the intercom.”

“A glitch?”

“Yes. It’s a tricky contraption. I’ve yet to fully master it. I’ll let Murphy know it’s on the blink.”

“Send my father up this instant.”

“As you wish,” said Gerry, hanging up the phone. “You may go up, have a blessed evening.”

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