CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTEEN
Wednesday morning — 11:15 a.m.
New York City, New York
Seth O’Malley was seated at a Grand Piano in a recording studio. The lights were low. He was playing through the last of five concertos for the last movie. Like the other four movies, he had created an entire orchestral score for the movie. The orchestra, which had won awards for the first four movies, had worked tirelessly to help create this score.
The movie executives didn’t like it. They wanted the last film to have a simpler, bare bones piano score.
He had less than a week to finish this piece. The movie’s music editor was working in the room next door to match what he was playing with the movie. They had been working long hours to get this done.
He had been playing for more than an hour. He was hot and sweaty. A drop of sweat rolled down his back. The piece he was playing was not only technically challenging but also physically difficult. At this point in the piece, he always felt the sharp pain of his recent gunshot wound.
“Seth?” the movie studios lead engineer asked over the speaker.
Seth stopped playing. Irritated, he turned in his chair to look at the man. Standing next to the lead engineer, the second engineer shrugged.
“I told him not to interrupt you,” she said.
Seth grinned at her moxie. He never really got over this young generations dedication to speaking the truth no matter what.
“What’s up?” Seth asked, grabbing the towel from on top of the piano.
He used the towel to mop the sweat from his head and neck.
“Your friend, Claire, called,” the man said. “She said, ‘He’s kicked them all out. She said to emphasize ‘All of them.’”
“Wow,” Seth said.
He shook his head in disbelief.
“You want me to tell you the rest?” the lead engineer asked.
“Please,” Seth said.
“She said, and this is a quote, ‘We’ve made fifty spots, but there are hundreds in the streets.’ She said that you’d know what that means.”
Seth grimaced. His hip ached where the bullet had wedged itself in the bone. He shifted uncomfortably.
“What should I tell her?” the engineer asked.
“Tell her that he’s a fucking asshole,” Seth said.
“She seems aware of that, O’Malley,” the second engineer said,
“She said that he’s asking again to buy the building,” the lead engineer said. “I don’t really get it, but she said something about you stealing the building out from under his grandfather? I don’t know what that means.”
“Do you know who?” Seth said the name of someone.
“He’s married to the daughter of …” the lead engineer said the name of a famous New Yorker.
“His grandfather sold me the building at twice the asking price,” Seth said. He grinned. “Of course, I was ten years old then. He laughed at me and told me that I was a fool. I told him that I was ten and I would keep the building long enough for him to beg me to sell it back to him.”
Seth wiped his face with the towel.
“They’ve been begging for the last five years,” Seth said.
“Why?” the lead engineer asked.
“Junior’s decided that he wants to own all of Hell’s Kitchen,” Seth said. “My little building is on a corner. It has a permit for a restaurant on the bottom and apartments on top. Very hard to get that kind of permit in those new buildings. We registered the building as historic, which really pissed him off. But now, he thinks it’s a great selling point. You know, ‘Live in historic Hell’s Kitchen.’ The building’s up to code which nothing he owns really is.”
Seth shook his head.
“What is happening?” the second engineer asked.
“He’s evicting people from the buildings that surround my building,” Seth said. “We expected it and asked the people who rent from us if they could spare a room. That’s what Claire was talking about. I had the engineers in last summer to check the roof. We can set up twenty small tents on the roof. It’s just…”
Seth shook his head.
“What kind of an asshole evicts people in the middle of a pandemic?” Seth asked, his disgust apparent.
“Claire said that you should call the governor,” the second engineer said.
“We’ve stopped,” the music editor said as he flung the door open. “Have we stopped? Why have we stopped?”
“O’Malley has to call the governor,” the second engineer said.
“Oh well, if it’s something important,” the music editor said, sarcastically. “What the fuck, O’Malley? I have a life too, you know. You want to socialize with your bigwig friends, do it on your own time. Not on mine!”
“Some jerk is evicting hundreds of people in Hell’s Kitchen,” the lead engineer said.
“You mean…” the music editor said the name of the person.
Seth and the two engineers nodded.
“He’s using the press focus on the pandemic to stay under the radar,” the second engineer said. “Doesn’t your wife work at the New York Times?”
“She does,” the music editor said. “I’ll call her.”
“I am calling a break,” the lead engineer said officiously.
Everyone looked at him. There was a long moment before they laughed.
“I need my phone, another towel, and some water,” Seth said. “Food. Asprin.”
“Got it,” the second engineer said.
She came into the recording studio. She gave him the towel, a plastic cup of fruit at the bottom yogurt, and his phone while taking the empty pitcher of water to be refilled.
Seth started making calls.
Denver Cereal continues on Monday…
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