We just got a letter in the mail.
“The Amistad Building, scheduled for demolition on July 1st, 2020. Please, deliver up vacant possession of your apartment on or before July 31st, 2020. We reserve the right to demolish the premises without delay. We cannot be held responsible for any property or persons remaining inside. Sincerely, The Landlord. ”
I have been here 60 years; and know all the tenants. It is such a great community, Amistad - Spanish for friendship, we call it. The demolition is set to happen in 30 days. What am I supposed to do? My friend, the witch, is not optimistic; she says that destiny is drawn. I am freaking out.
All the tenants are worried. I feel it in the air. Too much chitchat in the hallways. Their eyes were wide open, furrowed eyebrows and broad frowns. Everyone will meet tomorrow evening at the witch's apartment, number 71.
I like this apartment. Miranda, the witch, has lots of books. A fluffy black cat with green eyes, Larry, thinks is the King of the house. Herbs, candles, and jars are all over the place.
I think she is in her 50s. We communicate often, she can be a bit quirky sometimes, but I like her.
Everyone is here, at her place for the meeting. I listen carefully to the different opinions.
“This is the only place that remains affordable in downtown L.A.,” Josh, the 45-year-old scientist that works at UCLA, from apartment 45 says.
“The place is already falling into pieces anyway! The ceiling is the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew,” Tom, from apartment 31 says.
“It's true, the building is in bad shape. The appliances are worthy of the flintstones. But perhaps we can give it a second chance. After all, the place is historical. We should write to the city council and try to stop the demolition.” Kathy, the teacher of French at Le Lycée Français, from apartment 21 says.
“Everyone, vote, now,” Miranda says. I see most of the hands up in the air for approval. “OK, the community seems to like your idea, Kathy. I suggest you and Josh write the letter. You are both academics and will represent us well.”
Call me gossip if you like, but I saw Kathy going to Josh's apartment. I can smell the lasagna's aroma. Early this morning, I saw him bringing a couple of bottles of Merlot. I don't know how much he is interested in writing this letter, but he, for sure is trying to impress Kathy. I don't want to seem like a dirty old man, but boy she's so beautiful, brunette, long hair, tall, a French mademoiselle. I can see how Josh looks at her every time they run into each other! Oh, divine youth. It makes me jealous. I am not in shape to flirt with anyone.
I know Josh is divorced, and from time to time, I hear him saying how he still misses his wife badly. But hey, I haven't seen her coming to the building in two years. I think it's a thing of the past.
Miranda, the witch, is burning an incense stick while reading to me the letter that Kathy and Josh put together:
“We are writing to ask for your help in appealing to the mayor of Los Angeles and stopping the demolition of our Amistad Building. Our community feels that such a historical building should not be torn down just to be replaced by a cluster of unaffordable luxury apartments. Preservation and renovation of our building should be the way.”
She put the letter carefully in an envelope, “I sense it will be successful.”
We finally got a letter back today from the city council. Miranda is on her couch, petting Larry while reading the letter to me.
“Los Angeles is the worst housing market in the nation. Dozens of historical rent-controlled buildings are demolished every year, while thousands of Angelenos are pushed into homelessness.
We can't keep this situation going on forever. We are taking measures to preserve our architectural heritage and keep our communities in their homes.
This City Council has voted to commit public money to restore the Amistad Building. The building will be purchased from the current landlord. The demolition order will be stopped.”
“Yes, we won!”
“Meow,” Larry said, with its tail pointing upwards.
Everyone seems happy with the news. I certainly am. Well, Tom is not cheerful. Rumor has it that he is the nephew of the landlord. I saw him packing his things. He is moving out today.
Kathy went to Josh's apartment again. I couldn't avoid eavesdropping; she was teaching him French. Well, they were laughing a lot. I wish someone would teach me something new.
Two vans with contractors hired by the City Council are here. They are starting the renovations. Finally, all that mold and mildew are going away.
A new guy is moving into what used to be Tom's apartment, number 31. I see Kathy talking a lot to this guy. Josh must not be happy.
The witch is setting her daily ritual. Lighting a candle, burning incense, sitting cross-legged on the floor, adjusting her posture, and closing her eyes in meditation. Slowly and deeply inhaling and exhaling. I try to join, but suddenly we hear a rumbling sound. I am feeling a cloud of dust. A violent force is shaking me from side to side. What a mess! Her books and jars are falling to the floor, and the cabinets in the kitchen open up. Miranda manages to blow out the candle; Larry, the cat, hides under the bed. We lost power, and we are left in the darkness. Those were the longest twelve seconds ever.
The power is back. The news was saying that the earthquake was felt by 30 million people.
Everyone seems frightened. Kathy has been in the apartment of the new guy all day long. Josh looks sad, worried, and depressed.
I cannot believe I am the only one here. It is so silent, empty. Everyone else has been relocated. Apparently, there is irreparable structural damage. The City Council posted a note on the front door, “BUILDING UNSAFE.”
A van is parked in front. I am not sure what crime I've committed, but they surround me with fences. Explosives have been attached to my walls. Holes are being drilled on my columns. The explosives in the columns are triggered. The pain only took a fraction of a second, but no one cared. No one hears me. The witch is gone. So are my 60 years as a historical building. I'm just a pile of waste, broken dreams, broken beams, and plates, all on a heap in the atrium. A truck is being loaded with my debris.
I guess I am being taken to what humans call a cemetery.
After a long comma, I opened my eyes again today. What a surprise. I no longer have mold or mildew.
My ceilings are pristine. My appliances are radiant. I even have a rooftop garden and a pool.
I almost forgot to tell you, I saw Josh and Kathy this morning.
They looked happy, like newlyweds.
They told the salesman they were starting a new life together. They said they liked the showroom. They might even move here.