“We’re running out of time!” Cornelius comes crashing through the front door of the apartment. Boxes are scattered through the living room. Serena sat in the middle of the floor, packing one box with old relics, a few books, and some decor that they once had around the room.
She looked up at him. Her blue eyes fixed on his. They had shared this apartment for the last seven years and now they're forced to move out and long with the other tenants living in the building. Some had been living here since the building was first constructed nearly eighty years ago.
“Where are we supposed to go on such short notice?” Serena finally asked. Her voice sounded weak with exhaustion. She agreed she would be the one to put her job on the back burner, while he continued working. Serene was a travel writer and had visited some of the world’s most astonishing places no one or few people had ever visited.
Serena had been in the world’s most private monasteries. She received the blessing from the great llama himself, and she was baptized in the Jordan river all within months of one another.
Cornelius face-time Serena two months ago, causing her to cut her time in Tuvalu short. Her plan was to stay there for a few months, to relax, and enjoy the culture and the people’s hospitality. Serena wanted to learn everything she could about this country. She was eager to learn about the people’s lay-back attitude.
All she wanted was just to relax. Cornelius was supposed to have joined her, but they postponed it after this. Thanks to the government rules, they were losing their apartment to the Townson’s realtor. One who had promised the government they could bring the town more money.
Their plan was to build a new highrise with a couple of restaurants and a few high-end stores. These stores and restaurants would cover the bottom part of the building. The rest of the building would be condominiums. Jay Townson, the owner, had already built contractors with multiple other businesses. They just had to get permission from the government to build.
When the government heard how they were going to bring in better business and remove the lower-class citizens from the equation. They were all in. The high-rise was only the beginning, and it was going to get worse.
This was the year 2030 and the United States was in its second year of socialism. The democrats had won again thanks to all the young folks and the ones who believed in their lies.
“How much time do we have?” Serena asked.
“Less than two weeks,” Cornelius answered.
“Less than two weeks. How do they expect us to find a place in two weeks?” Serena couldn’t wrap this around her head. She couldn’t understand how people were fine with this socialism stuff.
Two years ago, she tried warning her friends. She knew they were making a big mistake. They refused to listen to her. They said she didn’t know what she was talking about. From here on out, they believed their life would be a lot easier. The government was going to take care of them. Yeah, right!
Cornelius and Serena had it much better than most people living in that apartment building. They chose to live there. They were the underdog. Cornelius had made this decision seven years ago. He wasn’t interested in living in the limelight. He was more of a lay-back kind of guy.
Although Serena had put her travel writing on hold. This did not stop her from writing. She was helping Cornelius with his. He was working on a big article, hoping this would wake everyone up.
Cornelius focuses his writing on government and politics. His heart was dead set on getting his message out to the people. Now he really had a story to tell. The community was going to hear the truth.
His work had appeared in magazines, like Time and Newsweek. He not only wanted people to read the truth but to see the truth as well.
Serena finished up the box she was packing. She closed it up and put a piece of tape across it.
“Have you talked to any of the tenants? She asked him. He picked up the box she had just closed and placed it with the other ones.
“I thought you were going to do that?”
“I can if you want me to.”
“Would you? We have little time, and I don’t think they are aware.”
“There’s an HOA meeting tonight. I’ll let them know.”
“Since when have we had HOA?”
“We were having one for the last couple of years now.”
Cornelius scratched his head.
“How is it that you knew about this and had been away most of the time for the past two years?”
“I read their newsletter. They pass out each month.”
“What those worthless pieces of junk?”
“Yes, those worthless pieces of junk. You’ll be surprised at how much information they packed into those little newsletters. Did you know that Mrs. Carlos has lived here in this same building for almost the last past eight years? She and her husband moved in when the building was first open.”
“Didn’t he die several years back?”
“Yes, and it’s sad. She still talks to him as if he is still living.”
Cornelius just shook his head. He knew they filled the apartment building with elderly folks, most of them housebound.
“I understand we have several that are housebound.”
“Not just here, but several throughout the community. With no place to go. Honey, this is the only home they know.”
Serena looked at him as if she was pleading with him.
“I don’t know what to tell you. We’re all in the same boat.”
“But we got to do something. We can’t just let the government put them out in the street.”
“And what about us? Are we going to be put out in the street?” Cornelius questions her. His voice seems to rise a bit.
“I don’t know, are we?”
Serena seem to be intimidated, but she knew what he was getting at. None of them had actually looked for another place.
She rises from the floor and walks over to him.
“I’ll start looking tomorrow,” she said and planted a kiss on his lips. Right now, I have to plan for the meeting.”
“Plan for the meeting?” He asked. He had turned around to face her because she has passed by him.
Several days went by. Cornelius rounded up a few locals to help him start a protest against the company.
He exerted this once before, hoping the people would make a stand. Nobody believed him. Their minds process it will never happen to them. The government treated them fairly for the last few years. Why would the government allow a realtor developer to come in and destroyed their town, just to bring in high-class citizens and stronger businesses?
This is what the sons of bitches did. Cover up their lies and get the people to believe in them to get their votes. A few of them have already suffered job losses.
“I warned you!” Was Cornelius’ first speech.
“And what would you have us do?” Shouted one participant.
There were few there.
“Go out among your community and encourage others to stand and fight.”
“And what if they don’t?” Ask another.
“Then tell them, the more we have in numbers, the better.”
“And if we get arrested? You know the Mayor of this town forbids any big group gatherings. We are putting ourselves in jeopardy by being here.” A bearded man shouted from the top of his lungs. He wanted everyone to be aware of the potential danger they could face.
“If we don’t fight for ourselves, then who will?” Cornelius shouted back. He was afraid he was losing his supporters.
Serena quickly burst through the crowd, passing out flyers of the elderly living in the community. The crowd was silent.
“For years this town has welcome all nationalities.”
Serena jumped up onto the small platform Cornelius had been standing on.
“This is true!” Shouted one black man. He had to be close to seventy-five. He was a tall lanky old man, who stooped over because of his congenital scoliosis. “If it wasn’t for this town, my family might have suffered at the hands of the Ku KLUX Klan. I stand with Cornelius!”
“I too stand with Cornelius! My family does too!” A small Chinese man along with his family steps forward.
“We as well!” A few more people from different ethnic backgrounds step forward.
Cornelius looked out at the crowd and smiled. Unfortunately, it was short-lived when they heard sirens heading their way. The crowd quickly dispersed.
Cornelius grabbed Serena’s hand and together they jumped off the platform. They had just darted out of sight right when the patrol cars arrived.
“Honey, come on let’s go,” Serena whispered.
“Sh! I wanted to hear what he has to say.” Cornelius lowers his arm and waves his hand back at her.
“They fled once we got here.” said the officer over his radio. “I’m going to scour the perimeters. They couldn’t have gone far.” The officer was middle age and muscular. The stripes on his shoulder showed he was a sergeant.
There were five patrol cars altogether. The officers walked around the area with their guns out.
“We better go,” Cornelius suggested, grabbing Serena’s hand once again.
“Oh, so now you are ready to leave… whoa!” Serena screamed as Cornelius quickly. Sprinted, pulling her along with him. It was a good thing that the two of them worked out, otherwise, it would have been hard for Serena to keep up.
“We have five more days before the wrecking crew comes.” Cornelius spoked.
Five days have already passed, and they were running out of time.
“Will we be able to convince them?” Serena asked.
Cornelius looked up at her from the couch. “I hope so.”
“You hope so? Cornelius, these people are depending on us! We assured them they would not lose their home! And now you’re saying you hope so!”
Cornelius slammed the palm of he is hand on the couch seat. The slap caused Serena to jump. “Don’t you think I know that?”
Serena was so much in shock she did not know what to say. In all the years they have lived together, they had never been in a heated argument.
Cornelius looked at Serena’s body, shaking. When he approached her, she stepped back a little.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have yelled at you and I would never hurt you.”
He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her in closed. She melted into him, dropping her head on his shoulder, and weeping uncontrollably.
“We are going to get through this, I promise you.”
Two days before Demolition Day, Cornelius gathers a rally in an old abandoned warehouse. Serena stood next to him. They crammed the place.
“This is our last opportunity! Grabbed everything you got. Weapons, clubs, pitchforks, whatever you have that you can use as a weapon!” He yelled into a bullhorn.
“What if this doesn’t work?” Asked a man in the back.
“Then at least we died trying,” Cornelius answered.
“But, I don’t want a die.” A woman cried out.
“None of us want to die.” He shouted back, “but if we don’t stand up for ourselves and our community, they will continue to walk over us.”
The people knotted their heads in agreement. They discussed it by themselves. Cornelius folded his arms and looked out among the people. He knew he had won them over.
“We should go over and stampede his office!” One person yelled out. A chorus of men joined in. The next thing Cornelius noticed was they were all chanting, “Cornelius for Mayor, Cornelius for Mayor, Cornelius for Mayor.” The chant got louder and louder. He raised his hands and motioned the crowd to calm down. After the silence filled the room, Cornelius spoke into the bullhorn.
“I appreciate your confidence in me, but I am not here to run for office.”
The crowd argued among themselves. They did not want to hear his rejection.
“But you are fit for this job.” One gentleman shouted.
“It is because of you. I am here! Shouted a lady.
“We don’t want anyone else.” shouted another woman.
“Cornelius! Cornelius! Cornelius!” The crowd shouted.
“They love you, Cornelius. Look at this crowd.” Said Serena. Cornelius looked out at the crowd again. They amazed him at how much they loved him. In just two short weeks, he had won over everyone’s confidence. He felt it placed the entire world on his shoulder. Cornelius knew he had to win this battle the whole town was counting on him. Did he make a mistake? He wonders. He started questioning if he was doing the right thing. What if they don’t listen to the people? What if the building gets taken down? Then how will the people react? Cornelius shook his head ‘No.’
He motions once again for the crowd to be still when a small boy burst through the doors.
“They’re here, they’re here!” He shouted. The crowd turned and look at him.
The crowd disbursed, got in their cars, and drove to the apartment building. Cornelius and Serena slowly stepped out of their car along with the others. Serena placed her hand over her mouth as she watched the wrecking ball crash into the building. Some of the crowd started running towards the building. The people guarding the place stopped them.
Elderly women grabbed a hold of their husbands or fell to their knees. Their whole lives were in that building and now it was all being destroyed.
Cornelius looked around the crowd. He was searching for Jay Townson. Serena focuses her efforts on comforting others. Although she was losing her home too, her heart went out to the others, especially the elders. Where are they going to go? This was the only place they knew of. Their children grew up here and moved on. Some people got on the phone and called their children. Never in their wildest dreams did they ever think this would ever happen to them.
Cornelius spotted Jay across the way. He made a beeline straight for him. Serena watch as he pushed his way through the crowd.
“You said we had into fifth, you son of a bitch!” Cornelius yelled at him.
As soon as Jay had turned around to see who was being so rude to him, he was met with Cornelius’ fist. His punch was so powerful it knocked him to the ground. Four men came rushing over. Two to hold Cornelius back and the other two to help Jay up.
“I will kill you!” Cornelius shouted.
Jay dusted his suit off and bend off to pick up his hard hat, which was knocked off his head.
“And you are who?” Jay asked, staring him down as he dusted off the dirt from his hard hat.
“I’m Cornelius. One tenant whose home you are destroying.”
Serena had finally caught up to him, along with a few other tenants.
“ Mr. Townson, I presume.”
Jay was adjusting his jaw from the hit.
“Who are you?” He asked her.
“I’m the girl who belongs to the guy who just hit you.” Serena held out her hand to be shaken. He just stared down at it.
“Miss, I don’t know who are, but take this bozo and get off my property.”
“Not before I said what I have to say,” Serena demanded.
Jay gave her one hard looked.
“All these people who see standing around they don’t have a place to go to.”
Jay looked at all the people standing around.
“That is not my fault. They should have been looking for another place. I gave them plenty of time.”
“You gave us less than a month. These people have no place to go. Not only the elderly but there are families here with small children.”
Jay just looked up when he saw about twenty patrol cars coming rushing in. Serena turned around to look.
“Ah, yes, the cavalry has arrived.” Jay smiled.
“Mr. Townson, if you do not do something about this situation right now. I promised you I will make sure you lose your license to sell.”
Jay just laughed at her.
“We heard there was some disturbance.”
“Yes, remove these two from the permission and any others who tried to get in my way. They have already stopped once me and I don’t plan on being stopped again.”
“Okay, you two, let’s go.” The cop urged them along.
“Charlie?” Serena said.
The cop inspected Serena.
“In the flesh.” Serena smiled, holding her hands to her side, posing.
“Wow, it must age?” Charlie said, “I see you got yourself a boyfriend.”
“Hi,” Cornelius responded in a monotone.
“Hi,” Charlie answers back.
“Sir, do you know who this is?” Charlie asked Jay.
“I don’t care who the hell she is. Just get her off my property.” Jay’s arms tightly folded against his chest.
“Sir, this is one of the best Travel writers around. And not only is she one of the best. She also does a lot of reviews on hotels and new buildings being built.”
Jay quickly turned and looked at Serena. She smiled back at him.
“Sir, if she writes anything negative by you are this building, you will have no one living here.”
Serena smiled at him again. Jay looked at her, then at Cornelius, and then at the crowd.
“Can I borrow your patrol speaker?”
“Yes, my car is right over here.”
Charlie leads him over to his patrol car. Another officer stepped in, making sure Cornelius and Serena did not move.
Over the loudspeaker, Jay made a promise to all the tenants, that he would find them a temporary home.