Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 13
“Stop, good citizen!” cried the complete stranger who had just burst through the door. “Sign not that paperwork!”
“What?” yelped the landlord. “What are you doing here? Who are you anyway?”
“Why, I am Apartment Man!” proclaimed the intruder, who wore a hat on his head shaped like a house’s roof.
“And I his loyal sidekick, Rent Boy!”
“And we are here to tell you…” Apartment Man pointed dramatically at the prospective tenant, “that your security deposit should be nowhere near the value of three months’ rent. Not for an unfurnished apartment!”
“Sorry,” said the landlord. “What did you say?”
Apartment man waggled his finger. “You shan’t pull the wool over the eyes of this apartment-hunter, you pesky n’er-do-well! If you were leasing a substantial quality of high-value furniture along with the apartment, then a larger security deposit might be justified in order to cover the associated risk. You may also consider whether the tenant had requested to bring in an item liable to cause significant damage to the apartment, such as a waterbed or—”
“No, I mean what did you say your names were again?”
“Apartment Man!” cried Apartment Man, striking a dramatic pose.
“And Rent Boy!” cried Rent Boy, who mirrored it.
“And you can’t think of any problem with either of those names?” asked the prospective tenant.
“No.” The two caped crusaders looked at one another.
“Really?” asked the landlord.
“We offer assistance to those seeking accommodation in apartments,” explained Apartment Man.
“Specifically,” put in Rent Boy, “we try to ensure they aren’t paying too much rent. Or in this case an excessive initial deposit.”
“Yes, but do you really want to burst into places announcing that you’re a Rent Boy?”
“No, not a Rent Boy, just—”
It dawned on both of them simultaneously.
“Oh,” said Apartment Man. “Oh dear.”
“What do you mean ‘Oh dear’? I’m the one who’s got it written in sequins across the front of his costume!”
“Do you think it’s too late to cancel that infomercial?” asked Apartment Man, quietly.
“Screw the infomercial! What about the skywriter? Who do we call about taking down those billboards!?”
“Maybe we could just paint over them.”
“For all fifty!?!” Rent Boy began to pace. “Oh, man. We can’t deal with this on our own. We need to hire some kind of PR person. Somebody to run damage limitation on this.”
“To the Fiscalprudencemobile!” cried Apartment Man, running back out into the street.
Rent Boy followed slowly, his head in his hands. As he closed the door, he looked back at the landlord and prospective tenant, a mournful expression on his face.
“Why did I let him come up with the names?” he asked nobody in particular.
The door clicked shut.
“Well that was something,” said the landlord.
There was an awkward silence.
“They did have a point about the security deposit, though. Can you do any better on that?”