By David Macpherson
I was still drunk when the locksmith got to my apartment door. I said, “Thank God you’re here. Can’t get into my place. Key’s not working.”
The locksmith sniffed out the issue and said, “You sure you go the right key?”
“Fuck you,” I said all polite. “I’m lit, but check it, I got only one key on the chain. Can’t screw that up. I’m a one key guy, for just such an emergency. But today, no dice.”
The locksmith shrugged so high the tools in his box rattled. “Let me take a look.” He grabbed my key without asking and turned on his mag light to check out the lock. He stared for a bit and then whistled. “Well sir,” he said acting proper and contract correct, “this ain’t a problem I can fix. Actually this ain’t even a problem. This is a product doing what it’s supposed to do. You got yourself a Millennium Lock in there.”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
The locksmith looked confused, “Sir. You got a Millennium Lock. You don’t get that product by mistake. You pay extra for it; its something you know about.”
“I wasn’t the first tenant. I kept the apartment after my girlfriend went to Portland to follow this bassist. It was her apartment, then it was ours, now it’s mine.”
“Not anymore, sir. It’s not anyone’s anymore. You have a Millennium Lock. Don’t you know them?” I just gazed at him. He waited, shrugged and went on. “They sell a specific product. It’s a hell of a lock, works perfectly, tight system, strong tumblers. Works like a dream for a thousand times. After a thousand times of locking and unlocking, it freezes up for good.”
“Freezes up for good? Is that a malfunction?”
The locksmith said, “No. It’s designed that way. It’s marketed that way. After a thousand times, you won’t get into your apartment. Nothing is going to open it. People who get this installed know this. After a thousand lockings and unlockings, you got to move.”
“Wait. I’m not getting in? That’s crazy. Can’t you do something?”
“No,” the locksmith said. “It’s done. You got to move.”
“What about my stuff? How can I get my stuff?”
The locksmith paused for a bit and then said, “From what I hear, it’s gone. In a week, the lock will be missing and the door open. Go into the place then and its empty.”
“Empty? Where’s the stuff? Where’d it go?”
“I don’t know, sir. It’s just gone. The place will be empty and pristine clean, like part of your stuff was your dirt and stains. Landlords don’t have to paint for the new tenant, its so clean, they love it.”
I said, “I need my stuff.”
“You just think you do. I’ve seen this before. You get to leave here with nothing. Start over. Do something new. Do the same shit again. Whatever. No matter what, you ain’t getting in here.” The locksmith straightened up to his full height. He pulled his jacket straight and gave me a bill for a hundred dollars.
“For what?” I said. “You did nothing here.”
“That’s right. And for that honor, you owe me a hundred bucks.”
I paid him and left the building before he did. I was still walking soft from the booze and I couldn’t think of anyone who could help me. Who could stretch out a hand to me? I was homeless and drunk.
I finished the night riding the subway, not sleeping it off. I thought of the new place I now needed. I thought of the things I would fill it with. I also allowed myself to think of the front door of the new place I didn’t have yet. The one thing I was sure of was the brand of lock I would insist for the door. That, at least, was something I could be certain of.
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