The Air Conditioner Man

22 09 2012

The air conditioner man ambled up the avenue carrying a worn metal case with an assortment of tools. Two more blocks and he would arrive at the front of the apartment building. After two presses of the cracked plastic doorbell he would unlatch the rusted metal and open the lift. In this time not a thought went through his head. Voices and mechanisms moved him but he did not process or care. He was the air conditioner man. Fixing and tinkering filled his time.

Rick was a mechanic of air comfort. The routine questions and polite introductions transitioned him to the window unit within five minutes of entering apartment 211. However another 11 minutes quickly passed. At this point, Rick would have identified the problem. Yet, the quiet thick stuffy air soothed his skin and calmed his heart today. Rick dreaded changing the air– filtering in cold lifeless drafts of sterility.

The spindly lady with white and gray streaked hair pretended to read a novel while sipping tea. Her shitsu sat at her feet. They appeared comfortable—too comfortable. On her Frigidaire fridge a few magnets and a calendar showed the lady lived a very orderly and ordinary life. Rick sighed as his eyes rested on a framed picture of a young boy with dark brown eyes. A grandson perhaps. Rick quickly felt disoriented. 35 minutes and he should be closing his tool box and shaking hands with the lady. But instead his heart was shaking. Scared it might shatter Rick forced his focus onto the beige box and wrote down the serial numbers sts104050 in his worn notebook. A part needed to be ordered and another visit scheduled. Another sigh.

Something of the air pressed against Rick begging not to be changed. Rick placed the cover on but caught his nail. Damn. A hang nail—such an annoying strip of skin. Snags. Apartment 211. Air. Breath. Rick could not pretend his son had been missing for two months. The weight of being and breathing returned.

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