The Guy Next Door

Before I do anything I go to this guy and he tells me what to do. He wears a black suit and works out of the apartment next door. If I get a call about a job I just walk over there. How much should I charge? I’ll ask him.

My wife is propped up on some pillows and wants to know why I’m nervous about her going through my accounts. I take the trash down the hall to the incinerator and on the way back I stop in to get an answer from this guy.

He sits me down on a molded Eames chair and puffs away at a cigar. He paces the room as I quickly fill him in on the details. Put your hand on her arm like this and tell her, ‘I have no secrets from you.’
In a minute I’m back in there quoting word for word. And in twelve minutes my wife and I are making love.

If I’m buying a new car I go to this guy. Even for something as simple as, Do I floss my teeth? he’s got the answer. I’ve been partway through a meal, about to order seconds and I step out to get “a breath of fresh air.” He tells me, Yes, have seconds. Remember, you skipped lunch.

Many an hour I’ve spent sitting on that Eames chair, breathing the cigar fumes, and getting detailed stock advice or a list of clothing brands to wear. It actually saves me a lot of time, believe it or not.

Yesterday I was over there, clouds of smoke, sitting on the chair in his empty room as he walked circles around me. In his raspy, smoker’s voice he laid out a gameplan for the rest of the afternoon.

He has me doing weird stuff this week, I’ll admit. I make it a point of not judging his directives but to be quite honest why am I buying all these weapons? Why do I have to hide them from my wife? The good thing is that I don’t have to know why. It always works out in the end. Do you know what a shuriken is? He asked me. I didn’t. It’s a throwing star. Go to Little Tokyo and come back with twelve of these. Keep them in the brown paper bag. Tape the bag to the bottom of the shelf on the right under the sink.

Later that day I was back asking my usual questions about floss and brushing teeth. He told me to take a shower (I never take showers at night) and then dress in my winter coat.

So I’m standing outside this warehouse at midnight in my winter coat, pockets weighted down with instruments of war from feudal Japan, wondering when someone’s going to come around and tell me what to do. Because it’s getting cold out here and frankly, I’m getting a little nervous.



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