“Is that a woodchuck?”
It was a voice coming from behind me. I wasn’t sure if it was a dream. As I became fully awake I realized I wasn’t alone in my office.
“That is a big woodchuck,” he said again.
I had slept in my office chair. I looked over my shoulder. A man stood holding a Tim Horton’s cup. He was looking intently at my computer. I focused on the screen afraid of what I would see. I was coming to my senses.
“That’s not a woodchuck,” I said, “That’s a beaver. A big hairy beaver.”
Luckily the computer had opened on a page of the majestic Rocky Mountain rodent and not what I was really looking for. I must have fallen asleep before I could correct my destination.
“Who the hell are you?” I asked.
“We are your new landlords. It seems you are behind in your rent.”
“You have no business barging in here when I’m sleeping,” my mind was still scattered from the trip, “What do you mean new landlord. I pay rent to Leo.”
“Leo passed away while you were – how should we put it – missing,”
“Passed away? That was his handwriting on the eviction notice tacked to the door.”
“Yes. He wrote that while he was still with us and before selling the premises. We thought we would keep them up. We thought it added to the decrepit mood of this broken down building. ”
This guy was starting to piss me off, “Who the fuck is this ‘we’ you keep referring to?”
“Excuse me,” he said, “Allow me to introduce myself. I am Ken Revimno. I represent Saddlehorn Holdings of Calgary. It is ‘we’ who bought this building and it is ‘I’ who am giving you three months notice to clear out. The building is planned for demolition, after which we will rebuild in the style of a ski chalet, complete with retail space on the bottom and vacation condos above.”
“Fuck,” I said, “Just what we need another shiny shellacked timber frame, faux river rock, tourist trap.”
“What can I say Mr. Siskin? – Calgarians love them.”
“Yes they do.” I conceded.
“Now,” he said, “We should discuss the delinquent rent.”
Revimno moved to the front of the desk and typed into his iPhone, “It seems you are seven months behind in your rent payments.”
“I was away.”
“That is no concern to us. Your sign still hung on the door. Your desk sat undisturbed and your computer still conjured hirsute beavers. Away or not the premises was occupied.”
He was right.
“How much do I owe you?” I said.
“Well it seems this is your lucky day, Mr. Siskin,” Revimno said, “As a condition of sale, Leo put forth a stipulation allowing you and the other residents to stay rent free until demolition. I am only here to inform you, as a gesture of the goodwill of Saddlehorn Holdings, that demolition will take place in three months from this date. We wish you luck in finding other suitable business quarters. ”
My head was swimming. The building was set for demolition. Tony’s Barber, The Cat and the Owl Bookstore and Siskin Investigative Services were as good as gone. Also, the four residential tenants on the second floor would be out on their ear.
Sure, I had my differences with Leo, but I never thought he would sell out to a pack of ski-chalet developers.
“Revimno,” I said, “How did Leo die?”
“Bullet through the head. The gun was in his hand when they found him.”
Ken Revimno opened the office door. He turned around to bid me farewell. He seemed surprised to see me out of my chair and standing behind him. He opened his mouth, but before any more nonsense could come out, I put my boot on his behind and pushed.
It wasn’t a kick, but it was enough to send hem ass over tit down the outside stairs.
I slammed the door before he hit the bottom. I didn’t have to watch. Unfortunately, liars always land on their feet.