had never dreamed that a building could provide everlasting
It was a year ago that hed
first seen the advertisement:
Bixby was wealthy. He was first
to buy, and the The Bronwyn was
His hair had grown long, a tangled beard hung from his face. His clothes smelled of pigeon poo and dirt, but Bixby didnt mind because when opening day arrived he would clean himself in a bathroom so deluxe, so full of soothing comforts, the body would leave refreshed, as if granted new skin. Hed memorized those words and others from the brochure that had served as friend and map. He quoted from it when times got tough, when the days were long and the nights even longer, taking comfort in the descriptions of the many firsts, the countless never-befores hed soon experience. And each night before bed, he whispered to himself the building motto: The Bronwyn. The embodiment of all that life can be and cant.
And now, from his bench in the balmy city evening, Bixby looked up into the oncoming darkness, to the blacked-out spot in the sky above all other buildings residential and commercial that was the rising The Bronwyn. He focused on a lighted window and pictured himself behind it. Tomorrow was opening day, and he would stand in his own lighted window, enmeshed in comfort, looking out at the left-behind place called earth, partaking of what life can be and cant.
It was barely dawn when Bixby marched across the The Bronwyn plaza. A white-gloved doorman stood inside the polished doors. Their eyes met, and though Bixby smiled, the doorman looked right through him. When Bixby didnt retreat, the doorman stepped outside.
What is it?
Um, replied Bixby, taken aback. That didnt sound like a five-star greeting. I have an apartment…
Today is opening day. We have no need for your kind around here. Now scoot.
His kind? What did that mean? Was he in the right place? He looked up into the sky. The building top swayed in atmospheric splendor. Yes, this was most definitely the The Bronwyn. See our tower poke the sky. But this wasnt the embodiment of five-star service. And he most definitely didnt feel as if he had embarked on a lifelong vacation. It wasnt supposed to be like this.
The doorman stepped back inside. A panel of glass between them, Bixbys dream was slipping away. What to do? He tinkled his fingers together in panic. He approached the door. The doorman once again stepped out.
I said Away. He brushed his hand through the air.
This is not five-star service! cried Bixby. Sickness rolled in his stomach; even if things worked out now, the experience was tainted. There was no imperfection in ultimate peace! And if this was ultimate peace, thought Bixby, then… the implications were unthinkable.
With a flash of clarity, a solution emerged. There was a magic phrase, an antidote to poor service. Id like to speak with the manager, he blurted. And wanting nothing more than to begin again, he added, He can find me over there, on a bench in the park across the street.
Bixby sat on a bench that provided a good view of the building entrance. Though the morning was bright with mid-summer sun, he could still see the impressive twinkle of the lobbys twin chandeliers. Biggest, twinkliest chandeliers. Never have two chandeliers of this size been grouped together in one location. All for your bright pleasure. With each subtle movement around the The Bronwyns doors, Bixbys heart leaped as he waited for the manager to emerge, to set matters straight.
Hours passed. No one emerged. Bixby replayed the episode over and over in his mind, each time returning to the same conclusion, seeing no other way to have handled it. Wasnt that what one was supposed to do, ask for the manager? It was all too much, he thought, how could it have even gotten to that point? This was the The Bronwyn. It was the ultimate in peace. Theyd said so, and he believed them. And now, feeling betrayed, Bixby reached for the brochure and turned to page one.
Underneath the statement was a picture of a man smiling peacefully, no doubt from service heretofore unknown. Bixby exhaled deeply. Reassured, he was certain the manager wouldnt be long. But how long was five-star-service long?
Morning passed. The manager hadnt emerged. Curiously, there had been no activity at all. The doorman simply waited at attention behind his door, exiting occasionally to polish the window or gather a piece of dust.
Afternoon arrived. The sun beat relentlessly down. Yet Bixby waited quietly, staring into the plazas fountain, mesmerized. Ours is a spring water fountain. Sip from the pure goodness, or look down on it from up high. Its your choice. Nothing less will do. And Bixby thirsted.
Finally, in the early evening, there was movement. A handful of people exited the building; building employees, Bixby surmised, by their joyful demeanor, their flawless posture. His heart pulsed. Was the manager in their ranks? Would his wait be over?
But no one broke free or even looked in his direction. Instead, the employees arranged themselves in a line. And then, seemingly on cue, a procession of limousines pulled into the looping driveway. Doors opened. Stepping from cars were people Bixby recognized from the brochure. Yes, there was the couple in evening dress from page two, he with sophisticated gray hair, she with timeless beauty; Dine in our very own five-star restaurant. And there was the successful businessman from page three; All deals are complete at The Bronwyn. And the man with perfectly sculpted muscles from page six; State of the art fitness facilities. Weve got it all! And others, too many to all be from the brochure, but to Bixby, looking like they very well could be.
They were handed glasses of champagne. A speech was made. By the manager? Bixbys view was obstructed by a waving flag. He stepped up on the bench to get a better look. What was he saying? His ears longed for a soothing five-star speech.
Then, to great applause, the doors opened! The doorman bowed at the waist, maintaining his position as resident-guests hurried through. Bixby clamored to be among their ranks as he watched the bodies scuttle across the lobby. Never has so much Imperador marble been laid in one contiguous area. And he watched them disappear into open elevators so numerous that no one had to wait.
And where was the manager? Bixby looked about the driveway, the entrance to the park: no one. His attention was drawn back to the building. His head tilted to take in the sky. One by one the compartments lit up. Darkened bodies appeared in windows. Motionless, they looked out over the city; to Bixby, all the way to Heaven.
It was now fully dark. There was no activity at the bottom of the building. No one arrived. No one left. But Bixby refused to panic, determining it was perfectly logical, this. His situation, he realized, was out-of-building. The resident-guests on the inside required assistance, and their needs took precedence. Right about now, he guessed, the manager was engaged, walking from one distinguished residence to the next, welcoming the new resident-guests. Little comforts they needed, and explanations as to how things worked. After all, there was much inside that man had never experienced. Oh, thought Bixby, it will be so good to finally be there!
All of the excitement had taken its toll. Exhaustion took hold. Bixby lay down on the bench and looked high into the The Bronwyn sky. He focused on a body standing in a lighted window. So still was the man. He put himself in that mans body, hoping to feel his peace, deciding that one more night in the park wouldn’t hurt. And besides, five-star service would surely respond within twenty-four hours. His eyes grew heavy.
Shortly after dawn, Bixby was awakened by a human presence. Pleased to meet you! he exclaimed, standing up, extending a hand. But there was no hand there to receive him. There was a man, however, slumped over on a bench a short distance away.
Was he the manager? An emissary? Bixby couldnt be sure. If he were, wouldnt he have woken him up? But wait a second, he told himself, perhaps five-star service had been employed. Perhaps the man had seen him sleeping and decided not to wake him. Sleep, after all, was a great indulgence, and being woken from it was often jarring and unpleasant and surely not aligned with five-star pleasure. Oh, how they think of everything!
Bixby studied the man. Poor fellow. Tired from a night of providing service. How draining it must be! But what should he do? Wake him?
No! Heel! He pinched himself on the inner thigh for even considering it. After all, the man had let him sleep. He was no better than the man. Ashamed, he knew that the man hadnt asked himself such a question, and if the man had let him sleep, well then he would let the man sleep. And so it was settled.
When hours passed and the man didnt wake, Bixby grew anxious. He looked up, to the building. The sun once again pounded his head, and he wanted nothing more than to pull from his body the ragged clothes that clung to his itchy, dirty skin. Why did things never work out for him? Peace was just a building away. If he could only get there, it would all be over. And this man! This man! How, after all these hours, was he still asleep? Snoring, no less, with such incredible vigor that it appeared he was somehow faking!
Dont ruin it! he chided himself. He will wake. He will wake. A man cant sleep forever.
So Bixby sat down on his bench. He looked once again to the sky and admired the tallest and plushest residential tower anywhere in the world and dreamed of himself inside. He stayed that way for a very long time. Every so often looking over to the man on the bench, wondering if he should shift him the hot summer sun was baking his sleeping face. And that was not five-star.