: Recovering from the preponderance of drywall smoke floating aimlessly throughout his condo, Bruce Halloran starts pulling costumes, hangers, and debris out of the way to see exactly what he’s done. The hole in the closet wall is sizeable and shaped a bit like Africa. Pushing aside the broken closet rod, he finds the source of the problem. A small metal box set into the drywall with its handle coming out of the other side. The hanger on the costume is chained to the handle.
“Sara Joy, you crazy bitch!”
Bruce pulls the contraption towards him through the mess, a large, jagged piece of drywall flaking as it rubs across an ocean of sequins and paillettes. The dust is settling, along with the hot, dry, musty breath of the original building exhaling from the hole. Picking up an old espadrille covered in oxidizing gold spray paint, Bruce knocks the drywall away to reveal the top of the box. Popping open the catch, he lifts the lid to reveal a single envelope. Flipping it over, he finds the handwritten word
Inside the envelope he finds several pages of a handwritten letter and a business card for a law firm in the CBD. The extravagant confusing swoops and unfinished points marks it instantly as Gary Pitts handwriting. Leaning back against the huge foam rubber penis, Bruce reads.
“March 15th, 2011
If you’re reading this, then I’m either dead or trying to prove a point.
Either way, now you know. Let’s assume it’s the former.
I also expect by now you’ve moved into my condo and have turned it into the rotten pigsty you enjoy so much. Good thing I’m dead. Because now I can’t do anything about it.
Or, can I?
As it turns out, yes I can.
The business card is for my lawyers. You should recognize the address, you had to go down there to sign the papers to get all my shit.”
Bruce snatches up the card and reads it again. Yeah, that’s them. DiNotta, Tschantz, and Asino.
“Well Brucie Boy, they’re waiting to hear from you. And, knowing you only clean up every ice age, I’ve got a bet with Tschantz that you won’t find this before 2014. If $500 suddenly disappeared from my--”your” bank account in January of 2015, that’s where it went.”
It had disappeared, and Bruce had caused quite a scene. Now he has to bank in Gentilly. Sara Joy would have adored it.
“Here’s why they’re waiting to hear from you. You still have something you have to do. In fact, you have five things you have to do before it all belongs to you in full. I know you didn’t read the fine print in the paperwork you had to sign. You never do. That’s why I told my shysters to make certain it was in there. If you’ll look at the footnotes in Section IV of page six, you’ll see.”
Bruce didn’t even bother to go look. He knew it would be there. That calculating bitch.
“Now, I’m only going to say this once. And since I’ll most likely be dead by the time you read it, it doesn’t count, you gossiping potato. Though I have become a legend in the bars for my cutting wit, acid tongue, and countless acts of Christian charity…”
According to Sara Joy, Christian charity was the name of the company that supplied Caligula with lion chow.
“...I do admit that I have some regrets. Five, to be exact. I had six. But you’re living here now, so I can scratch that bloated mark off my list.”
Bruce’s eyes and nostrils flare as a contagion of grandma beads breaks out all over his body. His temper rising with him, he points towards the letter in his trembling hand like Javert in the worst production of Les Mis ever conceived. His voice begins as a low growl and grows to a piercing shriek as he hisses,
“I knew it! I knew it, I knew it, I kneeeeeeeewwwwwww it! You felt guilty! You heartless piece of flint, you felt remorse! REMORSE! For every nasty trick you played on me, you felt BAD! I can’t believe it! I can’t--I can’t believe I’m screaming at a dead man’s penmanship!”
Bruce drops the letter and staggers out of the closet, his arms clenched tight into his chest. With grasping hands he struggles over to the bedroom bar for a quick visit with Mr. Beam and his good friends at Coca-Cola. But before a drop of liquor can hit the glass he practically drops it on the bar and rushes back to the letter.
“In order to keep this condo, you have to go to the five people on a list that the lawyers have waiting for you. For obvious reasons I can never approach them to make things right. But things have to be set right. And you're the one who has to do it.
Maybe it’s because I’m nearly as old as you’ll be when you find this, but I do have some scrap of decency. Some of them will likely surprise you, at least I’m hoping they will. Your job Executive Secretary Anthony--”
“Good God, again with the obscure TV references,” Bruce groans, a hesitant grin on his face.
“--is to find these people, and make amends on my behalf. I’ve left some notes. They should help. The only rules are that you have to get with everyone on the list and fix things no later than midnight on March 15th, 2016. If anybody is dead before you get to them, let the lawyers know. They’ll tell you what to do.
If you don’t get it all done by the 15th Halloran, you lose everything. The condo, the clothes, the car, the money, everything. When that happens, my entire estate goes to my pet charity, the”
Bruce turns over the page, and shuffles through the letter. He tears through the envelope looking for the last page. Not there. Typical Sara Joy trick. Frustration from beyond the grave. Bruce looks around the pile of rubble and finds the card for DiNotta, Tschantz, & Asino. On the back is a note:
“On weekends, call here,” and the number. There’s also another number and a smaller note that reads “Drywall repair. Prepaid.” Well, she always said she paid for her fun.
Bruce takes a big breath and exhales deeply. Walking back out of the bedroom he picks up his phone and begins dialing the number. For what seems like an eternity there is silence, then the call connects. On the fifth ring it picks up and a young man’s voice dripping of seersucker chirps,
“Hello Mr. Halloran. We’ve been waiting to hear from you. My name is Mr. Tschantz and I’m here to help you.”
The words chill Bruce Halloran down to his pettiest bone...This Is My New Orleans.