AUTHOR’S NOTE: This isn’t one of my usual varieties of short stories. This is one of those generated from the life experience of someone I know.
A faint sound of singing reached his ears. He couldn’t quite place the name, and it was a common tune—so common that any young child could name it. But, no matter how he tried, it wouldn’t come.
Following the direction of the sound, he walked down the long hallway. Getting to the staircase just the other side of the elevators, he stuck his head over the railing.
The song was coming from above him. Climbing up one flight, then two, occasional words came though: “walls…ceiling.”
He climbed another flight and stopped on the landing. The singing was right above him–a child’s or a woman’s voice. He took the last flight quietly–sneaking, really. He didn’t want the singer to stop.
Paused at the top of the staircase, he listened intently, now, catching the singer’s words clearly: “Crap-shit doodle on the walls, on the floors and ceilings, crap-shit doodle everywhere, so get yourself to cleaning. Crap-shit doodle on the stairs, on the walls and ceilings, on the floors and in the sink. It makes life so appealing.”
Yankee Doodle! It finally came to him. That’s it!
Creeping down the hall closer to the source, he peeked around the corner of an open doorway. There, a pretty, young black woman worked wiping down a wall. She wore orange rubber gloves.
Around the absolutely empty room were scattered plastic-lined garbage cans, paper towel rolls, spray bottles, and a couple of buckets of water. The smell of bleach was almost overpowering. She was wiping off graffiti–all of it brown or black smears.
He backed away, retreating quickly to the staircase, and, easing down backwards, his eyes were riveted on the opening above. He was terrified that she’d suddenly appear and see him.
Reaching the bottom of the flight, he breathed easier, and, turning, raced down to his own floor, not caring now if his footsteps were audible. Lease or not, he was out of this place. So much for luxury apartments. He’d rather the relatively clean squalor of The Projects.
He pulled his Blackberry from his pocket as he reached his door. He could use his money for better things than living in a pervert-infested highrise. “Mom? I’m coming home. Tonight.”