New story still in the works. I originally wanted it to be around 1500 words but think it will end up about 2200 after all. This is a piece from the end.
Red was gone when Chris arrived. He showed his city credentials and talked with Police officers. There was little to be done. He ventured into the apartment and looked around. It was essentially the same.
“Friend of yours?” He heard a man’s voice behind him.
“Yeah. And I am a city inspector. Landlord?” Chris turned around.
“Uh huh. Gary Pace, Pace Enterprises.” The man was a slumlord and looked the part and now he was wary of Chris.
“This place is a real shit hole, you know?” Chris said.
“Yeah. I’m having it taken down. I wasn’t hardly charging the guy anything, he watched the place for me. He begged me to stay while I was figuring out what to do with the building. He could have got all of this junk out of here.”
“So could you. Could have fixed the gas before it killed someone.” Chris turned back to the room.
“You don’t need to break my balls, pal. Don’t no one know what happened here. I’m letting my lawyer handle it.” The man said.
“You should.” Chris gestured to the bookshelves. “What about his stuff? You have a family contact for him?”
“Nah man. He didn’t sign anything. I got his name and cash for the rent. He drops it at my office every month. I pay utilities.”
“Taking it down? When?” Chris asked.
“Soon, brother, soon.” The man said.
Chris turned back to the room, put his hands on hips, and sighed. “I’ll come back with my truck and load what I can. The junk stays. You want any of this?”
“Maybe a painting. I like his paintings. He gave me one once.” The landlord said. “Look, I’m sorry about your friend. I liked the guy. I was doing him a favor letting him stay here for almost nothing, he was living in his truck.”
Chris thought a moment, then spotted La Bohème on the shelves and picked it up. “Bohemian.” He chuckled to himself.
“What’s that?” The landlord asked.
“Bohemian. It’s what he called himself when I saw him last.” Chris started making his way through the refuse of the narrow passageway and back to his car.
“Sure.” The man answered behind him.
Chris tossed La Bohème on the next seat, then drove home to get his pickup truck.