Through the spyhole I saw my distorted neighbor Frank. I opened the door.
«My tap isn’t working», he showed me his orange sprinkled bowl as a proof.
«Yes.» His six inch long mustache puffed out a bit, «And I heard yours through the wall, so…»
I let him in, «Did you send them the request?»
He went straight for my sink, «I did.»
«What are you doing with your tap? This is like the tenth time this year.»
«I’m not doing anything with my tap, nothing, it’s just old.»
«Mine works fine.»
«So I heard. We can apply for a room switch, then you are the one…»
«No, thank you.»
«There you see. Just bad luck.»
«Pfh, the hedgers should invest some money into this building, redoing the pipes, plumbing.»
«That’s not investing for them, they call that sinking money», Frank held his bowl underneath my tap, and bent forward until his vertebrae bulged under his white shirt, one hand holding back the striped tie from dangling, «Hedge funds are not known for their caretaking skills.»
«But they do fix stuff.»
«Oh, come on. I checked: twice. Two apartments. Of 350 units. Over the last five years! Both cases fire damage. They sure just wait for my tap to send their best team.»
Frank was taller than me, and he could have been athletic, if he wouldn’t be so lazy, doing only the least amount of hours at the gym. His eyes rarely blinked, what made him look overly alert all the time, or hungry.
He blew his mustache to the side, «Your tap won’t last much longer either, when I hear those sounds. That’s how it started with mine, that’s how it started.»
He doubled what he said, the first symptom of PDS, the Pregnancy Device Syndrome, meaning his mom spent much of her pregnancy with her G17 on her tummy surfing the cloud, letting its waves penetrate the developing brain with the effect that its cells would deteriorate faster.
I kept quiet, nothing I could do about it anyway.
He closed the tap, «The building is old, it was already old when they turned it into a SMH.»
That happened in the last century: retirement homes grew empty, because the rich stayed in their mansions with a private nurse, while the rest didn’t have enough money to live in a home. A Hedge fund manager pitched the idea of Single Male Homes and Single Female Homes. City planners all over the world loved the concept, and the hedgers struck their deals with the governments.
Without the SMHs many of us would be homeless. Maybe all of us.
I liked my apartment, Frank was the one who complained about everything: too small, too noisy, this squeaks, that’s broken, anything.
Who knows what he was doing to his tap?
I nodded at his bowl he had filled to the rim, «You want a straw?»
«Haa-haa, funny! So what are you up to now?»
Here we go. «I’m tired. I was at the gym. You might’ve heard about it.»
«I hear you, man.»
Do you? «If your spoons are not washed, take one of mine from the drawer. You can slide it back through underneath the door tomorrow, anytime.»
«Thanks, I’m good», he fished a spoon out of his pants pocket.
Oh no, he planned to stay for the evening!