Whenever the doorbell rings, it’s Chrissy who shuffles to the door. She moves through the small apartment, ironing out her green tee with weathered hands, brushing cookie crumbs from there onto her navy blue jog pants. She lifts her palm to the access pad and it lights up. You can hear the noisy bolts rousing from their sleeping chambers. Chrissy turns handle and pulls to, and nothing gives. Her shoulder takes the brunt of her own force.
“Oh, shit,” she says. She cranes her chin up at the small display embedded in the door, where an old-fashioned peephole might have once been mounted. She cranes and squints through old-fashioned glasses. There’s the gaze of a young man, directed elsewhere. Bored, and restless.
“What’s going on, now?” A small voice from the dim recesses of the living room.
“’Salright Dirk. It’s just they put this fricking Tenant Watch thing on again. Christ. We’re not 5-year olds… I told them to take it off and I-”
The doorbell rings again. “Sorry – just a minute!”
Chrissy thumbs the green ‘outcall’ button under the display and tries again: “Hi, just a minute.” She thumbs off and tsks in exasperation. “Honestly. I thought they’d taken it off now. I know I… Oh, Hi Stell.”
Stell, from Operations. Stell is a nice person. She looks out for everyone.
“I see you’ve got a pizza delivery?” Stell asks.
“Well, yeah. Can you open the door please?” Chrissy speaks to where the young man’s face had been goldfish bowling just a few seconds ago. Now the display shows Stell in her tiny work-cube. “I thought this thing was taken off.”
“Yeah… I dunno – hold on a moment,” says Stell, fingering at some colourful and incomprehensible collection of objects on one of those new-fangled workplanes. “I see an override from April. Uhm… Looks like ReAlloc overrode the override though, heh heh”.
Chrissy is not in the mood. “Well? Put it in again then please.”
“Their plates don’t check out? The pizza people.”
“Well.” Chrissy tries to smile past her impatience. “I’ve seen him before.” She toys with her ponytail. A long, fat, frazzled grey thing.
“Are you sure? We just wanna make sure you’re safe, Mrs. H.”
“Positive. Now come on,” Chrissy tries to joke a little, “we’re starving in here!”
“A-haha. OK. Well ReAlloc will still record, I’m afraid.”
Chrissy is already turning the handle again and pulling to.
Perhaps the young man does not look so familiar after all. His gaze flits over her shoulder and across the small room. The mild clutter. The card plates and plasto cutlery from earlier meals. Dirk’s figure in the shadows, his hand on that cane with clawed feet, as if he was getting ready to rise up and go somewhere but he wouldn’t move to rise.
“Hallo,” Chrissy greets.
A boy, really. Just tall for his age. He hands her a debit slate, unsmiling. She opts to just press her palm to it and then he’s gone, and she’s carrying the warm flat box to the small dining table next to their one window, the one that looks out onto the grass-less patio.
“Dirk, I got you the pesto one that you like. So I’m only gonna have a piece of it, Okay?”
“Okay,” says Dirk.