I was dreaming of a candle light dinner: white table cloth, red roses, a violin playing in the background, and intimate tête-à-tête with a handsome stranger… my insides quickly turning to Jello, when there she was floating into my dream…cream channel suit, red lipstick and pearls… like an annoying little banner ad on the Internet. Before I had time to get irate she looked up at the ceiling and said, “I can’t believe you can sleep through this?”
“Through what?” I said both me and my date looking up.
“Listen,” she said and there it was…CRASH.
Oh no, I thought pulling myself from my warm dreamy liaison to the cold darkness of my bedroom. I got out of bed and shuffled through the hallway. My stomach grumbled. An enticing aroma filled the air. I followed my nose all the way to the kitchen. My suspicions were correct, there was a light.
“Hey,” said my younger brother, Rumi nonchalantly picking up the cutlery he had dropped on the floor. It was three a.m. “Are you just getting in, what’s that?” I said, as if I had never seen pizza before.
“Want a slice?”
I bit into warm gooey cheese with tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, onions and black olives. I had a no food after seven p.m. policy and so I was hoping this counted as breakfast. It was easily one of the best pizza’s I had ever had. I was glad Grams woke me.
“Where did you get this?” I asked
“Chicago Pizza in Cambridge,” he replied.
Rumi had just finished listening to an indie band he explained, at T.T. the Bear’s Place (a dive rock club located in the bottom level of the The Middle East Restaurant) before meeting friends, and checking out another gig and grabbing a pizza and heading home.
I was intrigued. T.T the Bear’s, although small has had an uncanny knack for booking many of the music greats before they hit the big time, bands such as Nirvana. Of course it probably doesn’t hurt that they are so close to The Middle East restaurant, which is considered to be among Boston’s hippest night spots and features a huge variety of musicians.
“Were they good?” I asked referring to the band.
“Pretty awesome,” he said his mouth full of pizza. Rumi opened a water bottle and chugged its content before wiping his hands on his jeans. He glanced at his cell phone.
“Well, I’m calling it a night, early day tomorrow.”
“Up at the crack of noon,” I asked. He gave me a guilty smile and walked down the hallway is cell phone glued to his ear.
I was left in the kitchen with more pizza than I wanted to eat. I picked up the phone, “Hey Harry, up for some Pizza?”
Harry was the night concierge in the building. When he was on the police force and in private security he had been built like a brick wall. Nowadays, a lot of that steel had melted into gooey marshmallow. If you crossed Oscar the Grouch and the Pillsbury doe boy and made him 6’4, you would have Harry.
I shuffled on down to the lobby in my fuzzy slippers and terry cloth robe carrying a large pizza box and joined Harry behind the front desk grabbing another slice. I nibbled on my second slice (this one counts as breakfast). Harry took a mammoth bite. Harry’s expression was near orgasmic.
“This is damned good pizza.”
I agreed, totally worth getting up at three in the morning.
“Anything exciting going on tonight?”
“The usual: a couple of drunken college kids, a loud party and an illegally parked car; hotshot blew a socket when his Jaguar got towed, threatened to trash the place. Luckily the Boss was around. He took one look at the head of security and backed right down said, he didn’t want any trouble. I’ll tell you something when they made the Boss they broke the mold. He’s the type of guy that can drill holes in you with just his stare.”
“What are you doing up?”
“I was trying to sleep but Grams wouldn’t let me.”
“Yeah, she’s been keeping me up at night as well. Miss her on Poker night I’ll tell ya.”
“Grams played Poker?”
“Every Thursday night. She practically invented the Poker face. She always knew when to fold and when to ante-up. No more broke a sweat than if she were drinking a cup of tea.”
“Sounds like Grams,” I was about to continue when I felt the hair on my neck stand up. Suddenly, I knew that something was very wrong. I looked up to the electrifying gaze of my neighbor from across the hall. It was a combination of annoyance, disbelief and amusement. He was wearing a grey suit on top of a black shirt and silver tie. I could very faintly smell his cologne as it mingled with the cold night air.
I became all too aware of my naked face, my scroungy ponytail held in place with a rubber band and my tattered robe accented perfectly by my fuzzy ducky slippers. Why didn’t I grab the silk La Perla robe instead? I hoped at the very least I didn’t have pizza on my face.
“You have a little something on your cheek,” said Harry. I looked around for a napkin but before I can find one my neighbor pulled out a silk handkerchief. I looked at the hanky trying to resist the urge to hold it up to my nose and take a long whiff.
“Hey Boss”, said Harry. “Have a slice.”
“Thanks. I’ve already eaten,” he said revealing and ever so slight South American accent.
“I’ll clean this up before the day concierge gets in,” said Harry.
“That would be a good idea,” he added looking at me intently, as if he were trying to classify a rare species.
“So that’s your Boss,” I said to Harry.
“Yeah, don’t mind him. He’s had a rough night. He owns the security company that manages this building.”
My curiosity was peaked this was the most I had found out about my neighbor in months, but before I had a chance to pick Harry’s brain the late night crowd had started coming home and I looked like the bride of Frankenstein. Another time I promised myself, still holding the hanky in my hand. I had a dream to catch-up on.
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