The Final Thoughts of the Building at the Corner of 2nd and D

Submitted into Contest #148 in response to: Write about an apartment building being demolished.... view prompt


Contemporary Historical Fiction Urban Fantasy

I knew my demolition would be inevitable. My halls have been left empty for so long now. My pipes are a wet mess of rust and mold. My electrical wiring and conduit have been reclaimed by nature. My insides are nothing more than chewed wires and bird’s nests these days. The carpet on most of my floors has a festering slime in the fibers. Multiple inspectors said they’d never seen anything comparable, and warned against anyone entering. That’s likely why they’re tearing me down. I suppose by this point I’m comparable to a rabid animal, a danger to the rest of the city at large.

How did this happen to me? Too weathered to operate, too expensive to fix. A sad, shadow of what I once was. I blame the overnight custodian. Once that pipe burst on the 49th floor I knew my time was limited, but now it’s closer than I care to consider. Last night was my final sunset. Now here I stand, just before dawn, with engineers preparing me for annihilation. My walls are sweating with fear, but that might be the leaks.

My once illustrious halls housed the rich and the famous, back when I was beautiful and bright. My ground floor boasted hosting the highest profile parties in the city. The bulk of my residents, and a percent of the surrounding population, would come for all night gatherings of live music and strong drinks. The bar didn’t close, neither did the casino. The theater on one end had back-to-back comedy shows all night, and the theater on the opposite end showed a variety of films on an endless reel. The ballroom always had the most requested live bands, and the dancing never ceased. For decades people came together and parted like waves in the pool. If only those days could have lasted forever.

After a great and wonderful while, the parties wound down, and the city hotspot changed. As always, entertainment demands evolved. On the verge of a new century, I found myself excluded from what was once routine. Long time employees left, and permanent art fixtures were sold. The live music turned sour, along with the regular crowd. Then there was talk of turning me into a hotel. How I dreaded the thought of the short term. The idea of having guests instead of residents made my wallpaper cringe. What happened was far worse.

New management stepped in with a brand-new plan. At first, my bricks shuddered with excitement. They studiously cleaned me inside and out, and replaced my heating system with something more modern. I was repainted nicely. They even went as far as giving me a new roof. I expected a new era of excitement. Instead, I witnessed a violent restructuring.

My suites, my theaters, the penthouses, even my ballroom; their over scheduled projects ruined all of it. Half-hearted crews came with tiny walls and sloppy work. I endured hurried plumbing, unprofessional installations, and my grand lobby reduced to a hallway with a keypad door. I lived a building’s worst nightmare, or so I’d thought.

I was filled with residents once more, but things were different this time. The smoke from their lungs felt toxic to the air. Untrained and uncared for pets had no choice but to use my floors as their toilet. Every stairwell was filled with trash. Entire bags were sometimes thrown from higher floors downward, usually for fun. Disingenuous young adults, college students, and self-destructive entrepreneurs filled my halls, night and day.

To my genuine relief, a custodian was hired. He came in with enthusiasm and vigor. Ready to turn the place around and fix up every issue. Sadly, I found that he was only filled with such intensity when fueled by powdered motivation. The worst part was his stimulant exclusively enhanced his words, and did nothing to aid him in getting actual work done.

His resume had been a lie. The new custodian barely knew how to operate a broom. He spent most of his time at his workstation laughing at the internet, unless he was explicitly directed to perform a supervised task. A month into his employment he accidently found a pipe connector with a minor leak inside a maintenance closet on the 49th floor. He tightened it by hand then wrapped a towel around it, and left for the day. Forgetting what he’d discovered by the time he hit the front door.

A regrettable amount of time later, the building manager found himself investigating the 49th floor. There had been numerous complaints about soggy carpets and an incessant dripping. He entered the maintenance closet, and standing water flowed out around his shoes. He bolted in, and ripped the thoroughly saturated towel off of the piping, which also tore loose the connector.

The part was replaced and fans were working on drying the floors in less than an hour. Unfortunately, little did the building manager know, further inside the wall, the force of the jerked towel had undone pipe connections further down the line. A constant waterfall formed through a slim channel between walls. The unintentional canal twisted down and through each floor, all the way to the basement. Nearly a year passed before anyone noticed or complained. Other than the custodian who spent many of his overnight shifts dry mopping the basement. By then the majority of the damage had been done.

The sun is up now, and I’m prepped for a controlled demolition. There’s a crowd gathering. The end of my time must be soon. I used to constantly wonder what was to come, if another new owner would come along and refurbish me, so I could peak once more. I’d rather be a hotel than simply empty. I could become an office building for all I care, anything. But for my roof to meet the ground, that is a fate no building wants to meet.

It took them years to move everyone out, and the basement was flooded long before then. Stubborn tenants that refused to give up their space. One elderly couple claimed they were grandfathered into an old lease and were allowed to stay until they expired. Two floors below a hoarder contently lived among human waste and rotting drywall. These residents, among many others, could not be budged. Notices and advisories did nothing. The owner begging at their welcome mats was of no help either. Finally, after a stroke and a couple police raids, the last of the apartments were vacated one by one.

The custodian electrocuted himself trying to steal copper just after I was closed to the public. Apparently, he assumed the power was already off because he made no effort to check the electrical panel. He wasn’t the first or last death within me, but he was by far the most gruesome. I had amazingly maintained a murder free status all those years. Never a rooftop suicide, or séance in room 666 either. I can safely say, there are no hauntings for this interior.

The building manager and other employees stopped coming in soon after the custodian’s death, and I was empty for a short time. Then a new community arose. They seemed to be referred to as homeless, but I was happy to house them. All these floors and rooms, most of the furnishings left behind, someone needed to enjoy them. I was redecorated with spray paint murals, and artful collages. Families outfitted their quarters however they liked, and knocked down walls whenever more room was needed for new arrivals. They even found a way to fill the pool with water from the basement during a hot summer. A sense of community had been restored within me for the first time in painfully long. They happily thrived for a decent number of years in their decaying haven. I was devastated when the police forced everyone out one day in a blur of commotion. It happened too fast, so much noise, and then complete silence. A few days later the owner and the old building manager spent time boarding my windows and securing all my doors. They swept the building multiple times to make sure no one was left, except for the rodents in the walls and the fish in the pool.

I spent 1000 days empty. Devoid. Alone. Those were the worst days. Bleakness and disrepair. Parts of the higher floors collapsed like vertical dominoes. Nothing inside was the same. Much of the furniture had been drug out and burned in the parking lot, which no longer had asphalt. I find myself disappointed the chandelier in the main hall is long gone. Having it fall would have been spectacular, and something to look forward to. I knew anytime the building manager or owner arrived not to get my hopes up. They were usually boarding a higher up window that had been shot out, or hit by a mighty impressive throw in one instance, if I’m being accurate.

The crowd outside is bigger now, and there’s a camera crew. Without these old walls in the way, perhaps something new can flourish. Hopefully they do something nice with the space I occupy. A park or a school maybe, a library would be nice.

I hear numbers being praised by the crowd.

I’d like to imagine parts of me can be used for something else, but I don’t think it works that way. I just hope someone finds the guy that drowned searching the basement recently. I suppose he thought there would be a safe down there.

There's loud popping all around.

What an incredible rush.

May 30, 2022 23:15

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Molly Moonbeam
19:12 Jun 23, 2022

I'm floored by this story my friend! You did a phenomenal job capturing the essence of the building. The tags say historical fiction, but I sadly don't know what building you are referencing. The POV was unexpected, joyous, reminiscent, just like an old friend who knows they won't be around long, but are excited about the next life that may come. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and can't wait to see what you come up with next <3


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Hello Jay, Congratulations on your first Reedsy Prompts story! This was well written, and I really enjoyed the building's POV. The language, and the ideas expressed, were entertaining and engaging. I especially liked how after the building fell from its glory days, it was still glad to house people, regardless of their circumstances, and was disappointed in the poor job the owners did care taking. I contemplated writing for this prompt from the POV of the building about to be demolished, but decided against it. I was hoping someone else w...


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