Friday, June 18, 2010
just another story - Nez in the City
Yeah, I'm no Blair whats her face from Gossip Girl. Just Clair from some little place in the Heartland. What was I thinking? Natalie, letting me come to the Big Apple for the summer because she found me a job in the mailroom where I thought she worked. Maybe she never even worked there.
I'm beginning to think I've been cast in a shallow version of 90210. All these people here are so into themselves. They ignore me like the furniture.
Except one. Who would have never fit into the show, anyway. Nez.
"We think he came with the place." This wantabe model told me. Franka who likes to see how long she can go without eating.
"I don't even know if he has a job." Jared informed me who never left the place unless he was in a suit.
Then there was Penn, and Hope and some chick named Strawberry. I'm not sure what they did, but they were on their smart phones, a lot. So I'm sure it was important. Strawberry lived in the closet and Penn slept with Hope but sometimes he slept with Jared too. Really, I didn't ask what any of this was about. I just felt lucky I had a place to crash. Or did I?
It was chaos. I slept in a bed of corn chips on the couch most nights. Then one night Natalie left with this Romeo, and I hadn't seen her since. Really, it was getting scary. I didn't even have a key to the place.
So when I woke one morning, there was Nez. All alone with the remote control. I was told he didn't speak to the others. They didn't even know if he spoke English. They said to ignore him. But he dusted the corn chips crumbs off my face for a snack I guess. He was staring when I looked up at him.
"Did I?" I glared at him wondering if I'd even make it to work. I didn't even know how to get there. So I told him a few of my problems.
"Well, that sucks." He winced.
"I would go home if I could, but Natalie took all my money and-"
"Don't say another word." He motioned for me to come with him. "I've got the largest room in the place." He nodded.
He opened the door to his little world. He had a regular sized bed, but above it was a twin sized bed. "See, you can sleep all by yourself."
"I don't even know you." I looked at him as if this would be impossible.
"Well, you need a place to sleep, don't you?" He looked at me, seriously. We were, after all, being serious. "Come on, I'll take you to breakfast so you'll get to know me." He shrugged. Of course, I had to go to the bathroom and wash my face before I could go anywhere.
"So you lived here all your life?" I wondered if he had lived at the brownstone forever.
"Not really." He shrugged, buying me a coffee and bagel. We stood on the street and watched the people walk by, while stuffing ourselves with cream cheese and crunchy bagels.
"Are you a run-away?" I couldn't help but ask. He didn't dress exactly like an executive like Penn or Jared.
"What is this? 20 questions?" He grinned.
"No, but you know, I'm trying to get to know you." I reminded him.
"Oh. Well, I've been around. Parks. That kind of thing. Sleeping with the pigeons, you know." He shrugged.
A flock of pigeons flew to the sky from my feet then which made me slightly jump back.
"And now the brownstone." I nodded.
"Yeah, the brownstone." His smile was sincere. "Look, I'm a messenger carrier. Except, its not exactly the career I'd hoped for. Seems, I'm needed less and less."
"This economy sucks." I sighed.
"Yeah, but I got my room back at the brownstone." He nodded.
"Yeah, how did you get it?" I glared at him, wondering just how mysterious he really was.
"I helped this old lady." He was kind of coy with that answer.
"How old was she?" I had to get a perspective on this. Was she as old as my Mom or my grandmother?
"Old." His eyes lit slightly. "Lets just say I did a good deed."
We were at the building where I was working for Natalie. See, she needed a tempt. And I was playing Natalie in the mailroom. Evidently. I guess it was on the up an up. Still I got lost in the building everyday. Naturally, I got a few laughs that way.
"Kind of like the good deed you're doing right now?" I smiled.
"Yeah, something like that." He looked at me. "See you later. Like tonight."
I nodded biting my bottom lip. I still wondered what that something was. Should I be afraid? Very afraid? I had the rest of the day to think about it.
So just how happy was I to see Nez when I got home? Very. I was so trying to get a hang of the job. People's names, where things went. It was a bit of a tedious job and as much as they wanted to go green and cut down the paper trail to save a forest, there were still things to file and well, shred. Yeah, I did a lot shredding.
Of course, when I got home, it looked like everyone was going out. Penn had a cocktail meeting and was bringing Franka along to show her off. And I think Hope had a date with Strawberry. Something like that. Like they'd tell me, anything. Not.
"You know, don't you, they don't have real jobs?" Nez then said when we had the kitchen all to ourselves.
"What?" They had to be rich. They had things, like clothes and bobbles and impressive fun things to listen too.
"They're just posers." He shrugged as he went to the fridge to look for something to eat.
"Are they now?" I almost chuckled, looking down at my mary-janes that were a size too big for me, but I'd worn someones thick socks that came to my knees. Yeap, I looked like a rather pathetic girl in a school uniform.
"That's what I said." He looked back at me. "Get changed."
"For what?" I looked at him. I didn't have so many things to wear. As it was, I had pretty much dug through dirty clothes to find this.
"Something casual." He shrugged. "Just put on something of mine."
"OK." Hopefully, we weren't going out to kill food in New York City. So I went up to the room, and looked around. He had his drawing tacted to the wall. I hadn't really taken a good look at them. Just faces. None that I knew. Definitely, no one in the brownstone. People from the street with cold dark glares. Kind of grim. I guessed.
I opened his dresser and found a thin T to put on that was so relaxing. Lord knows, how old it was, but is was so soft and smelled slightly of him, sweet like damp fresh grass or was that his hair that smelled that way... I reached for some boxers too and came back down barefooted.
"So we are staying in, right?" I hoped.
"Well, yeah." He nodded. "But I'm sure if you really wanted to go out, we could."
"Not really." I yawned.
I watched him get out eggs and oil. There was a cake mix.
"I know what you want." He looked back at me.
"I just bet you do." I had no idea where this was going, actually.
"Cupcakes." He started making the batter. "You see, putting on the icing is soothing and kind of messy."
I nodded. Still thinking back about the old woman he'd mentioned before. "Can I ask you a question?"
"No. I'm not married." He told me.
"Good to know, but that wasn't the question." I gave him a serious look, watching him carefully get the batter in the cupcake pan.
"It wasn't?" He grinned. "See, I can't read minds, and I bet you thought I did."
"What happened to that old woman?"
"She died." He assured me.
"OK." I nodded, but I wanted to know more.
"What, you think I killed her?" Nez popped the cupcakes in the oven. The screech of the oven door almost made me jump.
"Uh." I was getting nervous, wondering where all the kitchen knives might be located in thr kitchen.
He just leaned there against the sink with his arms crossed, watching me.
"All right, I won't make you squirm. She lost her mind first." He slightly winced.
"Like how?" Did it involve snakes, or drugs, scientific probes?
"It wasn't in a day or anything. More like months, then weeks, finally days. She'd had a pretty good life and then she stopped remembering the closest people around her, and then she found me. She thought she knew me. She really did." He sighed.
"Did she?" I winced.
"No." He gritted. "Look, don't think I'm a bad person because I did it, you know. Being with her, til the end. I-I guess I had nothing else to do. And she was a writer. She just talked about people in her head. And I would just listen. Try to write it down the best I could." His blank face pained me.
I just nodded. There was a silence that grew and before I knew it...the timer dinged. Had it been that long? I sucked in a breath as I watched him get out the pan. He was different from the rest. While they had to have something exciting to do and everything was becoming more and more boring by the minute, here was Nez finding the smallest things to make everything a wonder. Even, right there in the kitchen.
I helped him ice the cupcakes. He made me smile with his smile. And suddenly we were laughing. I really saw him. Fascinating, just as he was making cupcakes with me.