Eleven: Darth Landlord – Episode II

Posted: October 25, 2012 in The Road to Skid Row

We knew Darth Landlord would be hard to pin down. He wouldn’t arrange a meeting but his secretary mentioned he was in town for a week before going to his home in Palm Springs – a city where, according to Urban Dictionary, “old people go to die.” Dammit! We were running out of time. We had to catch the old bastard before he earned himself a Death Star on the Walk of Infamy.

We rapped on the door of his office and walked in, Kate carrying documents which included a written complaint and testimonials from her tenants. Thanks to Martin, Darth Bernstein was convinced Kate had done nothing as co-manager of the building, but these testimonials proved otherwise. With this evidence Bernstein had to give Kate her job back.

“Can I help you?” Bernstein’s secretary asked.

“I would like to see Mr Bernstein, my name is Katharine Mellors.”

“I’m afraid Mr Bernstein has just left for Palm Springs,” she replied.

Suddenly a voice came from behind her.

“Who is it Eleanor?”

When you read about real life bad guys you picture them like movie villains with gruff intimidating voices.  I hoped somebody as ruthless as Bernstein would be as impressive as a Bond bad guy or a don from The Godfather.

Bernstein shuffled out of his office. A small balding man with his sleeves rolled up, he resembled Gollum more than Goldfinger. Only his eyes suggested he could do the things he did; cold, dark eyes that questioned your very right to live with a single glance.

“Katharine Mellors wants to meet with you sir. I told her you were leaving for Palm Springs.”

He hesitated for a second before walking around the desk. His shoulders slumped worse than mine, hands twitching.

“I’m sorry Katharine, I’m about to drive back home.” His voice was soft, almost apologetic.

“Please take a look at these documents, Mr Bernstein. I have testimonials from tenants which prove Martin is lying.”

Kate handed him the envelope. He stood for a second, hesitating.

“I’ll look at them on the weekend,” he said curtly, before turning abruptly back into his office.

That was it. Show’s over folks. The big show down ended with a whimper; he didn’t even give us a chance to talk to him. We dragged our feet back to the house in defeat.

A week passed before Kate heard from him. Bernstein wrote an email promising he would give her a good reference in the future. There was no mention of giving her job back and no mention of Martin. Case closed, as far as he was concerned. He was probably annoyed a minor thing like unfair dismissal took up so much of his time.

Minutes were money to Bernstein and there was never enough money so there was never enough time. People who stole his daylight hours were as bad as the scumbags who lived in his apartment buildings, the ones he harassed and intimidated because they couldn’t afford to pay premium rates.

With no job prospects and no cash we were desperate. Then we got an email from my mother. She was arriving with my uncle in a few days with the best gift anybody can give: Money.

Tune in on Tuesday for the next installment of The Road to Skid Row.

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