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The warm sunshine streaming through the south facing loft windows woke Justin the next morning. He stretched luxuriously in the extra large king-plus-sized bed, enjoying the heat from the sun pouring over his body, and in the process his left hand brushed against something hard under the edge of the pillow. Retrieving the object, he found it was a leather strap adorned with cowry shells. As he turned it over, he noted a snap-type clasp and immediately affixed the bracelet on his left wrist. He admired his new jewelry and realized that this must have been the object he'd found last night in the bathroom when he'd had his last panic attack. The shells gleamed in the bright sunlight. It was a rather nice bracelet, he thought to himself, and he decided to keep it on as he got up to start his day.


After breakfast and a shower, Justin was at a complete loss as to what to do with the rest of his day. He was all moved in and everything already put away. He didn't  have a shift at the diner where he worked until Friday. School didn't start until after Labor Day. He briefly thought about drawing, but immediately nixed that idea when it brought up those stirrings of panic again. He looked at the sunlight streaming into the loft and contemplated taking a walk around his new neighborhood, but decided he wasn't ready for that yet - he still wasn't real great in crowds, even after a year of therapy, and knew he would have to psych himself up for a few more days before attempting the great unknown outdoors on his own.


Wandering randomly around the loft looking for ideas about what to do with his day, his glance landed on the file of paperwork left by the property management company. His mother had tucked it away behind the coffee maker to keep it out of the way while they were moving in the other day. Justin hadn't yet looked through all of it. 'Might as well go through it now, since I have nothing better to do,' he thought.


Opening up the file on the coffee table while he reclined on the couch, Justin leafed through the contents. There was a photocopy of the lease agreement, of course, a list of contact numbers for reaching the property management company and the maintenance staff, as needed, as well as a list of local emergency contact numbers. There was a two page list of 'Rules and Policies' from the building tenants' association telling him what NOT to do (like leaving garbage in the hallways or putting out offensive doormats) along with what TO do (garbage collection was every Thursday and all garbage must be put in the bins at the rear of the building by no later than 6:00 am, etc.) in order to stay on good terms with his new neighbors. Justin promptly returned that list to the file, planning on ignoring most of the ridiculous directives. There were also some brochures for local businesses and take out menus for nearby restaurants. 'Now those would be useful,' Justin smiled as he stashed the menus next to the phone.


The last item in the file appeared to be a letter from his landlord. Rather than the standard, printed boiler-plate letter he'd expected, this letter was handwritten on heavy cream colored stationery. As he opened the envelope, Justin caught a whiff of something - cologne maybe? He brought the stationary up to his nose to get a better sample of the intriguing scent. Yes, it was a man's cologne - he thought he recognized it but couldn't remember the name - and it was a very attractive cologne at that. Justin inhaled again and let the perfume seep into his senses while he pulled out the letter from the envelope and unfolded the single sheet of stationary.


Dear New Tenant,

Welcome to the Loft. Congratulations! You are the lucky new resident of one of Fabulous Pittsburgh's hottest fuck pads! Use it wisely . . . or not! I hope you will enjoy your time here (God knows I did - over and over and over and over again!).

I have already filed a 'Change of Address' form with the post office, but since they are notoriously slow when it comes to doing anything (and I know this for a fact as I've already had at least a half dozen of them, here in this very loft), I doubt they will get around to processing it for several weeks. So, in the meantime, I would appreciate it if you would kindly forward any mail I receive to my new address in West Virginia. I've enclosed pre-printed address labels for your convenience.

Your Landlord,

Brian Kinney   


Justin read the letter through twice, laughing both times. His landlord seemed to be quite a character. 'Fuck pad', he chuckled. Justin thought he wouldn't mind meeting this landlord.


Thinking about the letter, the blond man decided to go check out his mailbox and see if there was anything to send on to this intriguing person. He grabbed the mailbox key and headed for the loft door.


All the mailboxes for the building were on the wall to the left of the main building door. In keeping with the ambiance of the rest of the building, they were the old-fashioned kind with a small metal and glass door on the front of each box. The array of boxes was mounted on the wall of a small room, which you could see into through the open back of each box. The letter carrier could access this 'mail room' via a locked door on the left and then could easily slide each resident's mail into the respective box. Justin looked through the glass window of the mailbox for #4 (the Loft was the only apartment on the fourth floor so there wasn't a need for an 'A', 'B', etc.) and could clearly see that there was a substantial amount of mail in there already. Since he'd only just moved in and didn't really know anyone who would write to him here, he figured it all belonged to Mr. Kinney. He inserted the key into the lock, opened the box and pulled out the stack of mail, which he examined as he turned to hike back up the stairs to the loft.


Based on the contents of the mailbox, his previous impression that his landlord was a real 'character' was not only substantiated, it was strengthened. Justin outright giggled as he looked through the various items in the pile. At the bottom of the stack was a yellow postal notice that indicated there was a larger package that wouldn't fit in his regular mailbox. He looked around and noted a larger door at the bottom of the panel of mailboxes with a plaque reading 'Packages" on the door. He tried his key in that lock and was encouraged that the lock turned easily. Inside was a largish box with a logo depicting a profile of a roman warrior with plumed helmet and the words "Trojan Brand Condoms" written in very large, bold print across the top. He grabbed the box and the mail and headed back upstairs.


'Yes,' Justin thought, again with a giggle, 'I wouldn't mind meeting this man - not at all'.



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