A retired New York cop becomes a private security specialist. The new job comes with many perks but just as many hidden dangers. John Kelly is propelled into a dark, seedy underworld where choosing the wrong side could get you deleted, your identity could be erased. A few keystrokes and you could be walking around the city with no money, no proof that you exist and no way back to the life you once knew. You would be nothing, nameless, faceless, Blank. John Kelly has to choose a side and find a way to live with what he's seen and done.

Blanks

The virus has been with us for six years now and we are all bored with Covid this and Corona that. It’s become very much a community thing, a neighborhood thing. Block by block building by building, even floor to floor. Mask, no mask, vaccinated or not, rights, freedoms, Nationalists, survivalists. Jesus Christ this thing has me out on my patio sneaking smokes again and having a new respect and gratitude for my wife and the fact that when we met 15 years ago we both got it out of the way that having kids was off the table. I like our apartment and our building in general is pretty loose and easy as far as the smoking, drinking and gathering ordinances are concerned. Jen and I have made a few friends in the three years we’ve been here. There’s a nice couple two floors above us and another one floor below. We never wanted to live in a highrise but the NYPD paid the bills and gave me my full pension if I cashed out with the city and stayed on as chief of security in this building with a rent free apartment and a few grand a month. So we made the move. We are still settling in, the spare bedroom will at some point become an office/studio for Jen. She was teaching art at a fancy upper west side prep school until Covid Cuts decreased her hours and then phased her position out all together as it and she were considered “Non Essential.” She was pissed but she made the best of it as always.

The lobby of our building is also a massive mixed use space besides just a set of doors out to the street and elevators there’s an enclosed corridor domed in by a glass skylight that leads to lots or retail shops. There’s a fake Irish Pub called O'Malley's if you fancy a pint, there’s a small movie theater and an old school style Italian Sandwich joint. Jen works in the little specialty wine and cheese shop a few days a week where she gets a pretty good discount on good bread and a fancy coffee that we enjoy. Mostly it gets her out and keeps her busy. Jen can tend toward being solitary and sometimes to her detriment but she enjoys the shop and it leaves her plenty of time to keep up with her photography and sketching which she has a great talent for and takes very seriously. She will often wander around for hours with a sketch pad tucked under her arm and her bulky but expensive camera around her neck. She prefers the actual camera to her IPhone. She has a great eye, I wish I could see what she does, see the world through her eyes.

I have a small office on the garage level where I watch people come and go all day on a bank of monitors, then I walk each of the seven floors about four times in a day. I hardly ever get an after hours call from management but if I do it’s usually someone smoking inside their apartment or drunkenly having their tv or music up too loud. It’s not a bad gig and my little office comes complete with a microwave and mini fridge. Alex, the head of maintenance usually stops by toward the end of the day on Thursday with a six pack and we have a couple of beers and bullshit for a bit. I pop into O’Malley’s here and there just because it’s easy and convenient. That’s what this whole building in the heart of Brooklyn Heights was made for, ease and convenience. It was sold as someplace where you could get everything you ever wanted and never have to leave home. During the worst of the pandemic this was quite an attractive prospect. Hard to believe it was only just about a year ago that the whole thing almost blew up. Like most things it starts from boredom and grows from there. Frustration and isolation can only simmer for so long before they boil over. We are after all social creatures by nature and a well meaning if misguided movement to get back to normal and reclaim our lives and freedoms starts out with the best of intentions and then before you know it just like that there’s a war at your front door! Lines are drawn and sides are chosen, heroes and villains are created out of nothing and nowhere. Protests become riots and people get hurt. There’s always a price to be paid and it’s usually those who can least afford it that wind up paying the most. That’s just a fact of life but it’s much more obvious here in this bubble. In the fish bowl that is this building where I can observe the spoiled rich and entitled observing me. Me, my wife, Alex and probably a dozen other nameless, faceless uniforms with blue collars who clean up after those higher up the food chain and quietly keep things running behind the scenes and in the shadows. It started with a tenant meeting out on the roof deck with the heated enclosed pool and electric fire pits. I made an appearance just out of curiosity and out of uniform nobody even notices me or knows who I am. The Swansons, Bob and Jackie were behind this particular meeting. Both of them are big name, high powered corporate lawyers who don’t ever seem to do a damn bit of good in the world but always seem to have a Hell of a lot to complain about. They were proposing a petition to do away with masks in the building. Bob was passionately raving about freedom and democracy and the Founding Fucking Fathers, oh yeah and some how Jesus got involved too! For her part Jackie threw fuel on the fire talking about the right to privacy and vaccinations and masks being an individual choice because, God Bless America and whatever. Within two weeks there was another meeting to announce that the Swansons had won the fight and struck a mighty blow for Freedom!

The truth of it is that there was never any fight to be had whatsoever. As far as the management company is concerned, if you are paying around Ten Grand a month in rent or you bought your apartment outright for damn near a Million bucks they will always cater to you and cave to your whims or causes. Anything to keep them happy and keep the checks coming in and why not? It’s a business and you're selling a lifestyle based on residents being able to get what they want and do what they want Freedom isn’t Free, it comes along with a pretty hefty price tag. It’s all yours if you can afford it. The other side of that is if you don’t like it well, that’s just too Fuckin’ Bad. That goes for the private park and dog run that’s part of the property and that only residents have access to. I don’t get it, I’ll never understand this. Most of these people don’t even like dogs but they all have to have their expensive emotional support accessory that they can push in a stroller or carry around in a handbag, it’s ridiculous! At the end of that second meeting as I was heading to the elevator I heard my name being called, “Hey John, It is John right?” As I turned there was Bob Swanson and his lovely wife, Bob offered a hearty handshake and his business card of course. I was then a captive to Jackie’s chit chat for the next 12 seconds, held hostage in the elevator for the longest and slowest ride of my life. I was confused as to the introduction, I mean why? Why now? There had to be a reason. By the time I walked down the hall to our apartment the encounter seemed insignificant, an afterthought that I would mention to Jen as she would surely request an update. She was waiting on the couch with a glass of wine in her hand and a cold bottle of Bud for me. Jen wanted details and was always annoyed when I didn’t have enough. Mostly she just wanted


Submitted: July 26, 2022

© Copyright 2022 John Nash. All rights reserved.

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