by C. R. Stapor
Chuck and I were driving home the other night when I said –
> No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no, nah, but what about this – follow me here – a living room for hire by the hour?
> Anywhere – no – fancytown. Who buys designer trousers?
> The city. Marin –
> ummmm –
> Point Richmond.
> Right. But Stapes, who’d pay for something they already have at home?
> Who wouldn’t?
Next day I walked down to the point, found the perfect storefront. Nice quiet spot next to a theater. Dialed up the phone on the rental ad, scheduled a meeting. Over a couple lagers I explained the idea. How it would work or what it would say.
> So it’s not just a pitch. There’s an aesthetic element.
> You got it. Installation of concept. Perpetual vanity of the double caught checking itself in the twinned rearview. Dollar signs like daisies over the eternal return.
He gave me a month. For the hell of it, gratis, to prove a point. Something about the neighbors, honoring the true culture of the stage.
> They’ve been acting from the audience since ’96. Figure, two can play that record.
> Damn right.
It took nine days to set everything up. Furniture, website, social media blitz, couple fliers, few nights over a few bars, word of mouth, the buzz. Yes traction, yes demand. Opening weekend already overbooked. Excellent at $115.00 an hour.
I put on a tie. Talked to a reporter, two bloggers, couple drunks visiting from Fresno. Did the host bit proper, the business guy next-gen. Another man of the moment. And then, after about thirty hours, the moment was gone.
> Christ as fuck!
Hypefall attained I settled into the core mission of accommodating my regulars. They say sustainability. At that point there were five: Janice, a housewife married to a traveling salesman; Tony who was learning to paint by numbers; then Juan, only twenty, who supported his family via two and a half jobs; finally the happy role-playing couple of Sarah and Steve, for whom the rented living space acted as a temporal portal back to their younger, happier days. Among them they were ordering over sixty hours a week. Sustainability what?
> Is that Ikea?
> It looks like Ikea.
> It’s not Ikea.
Not everyone got it. Regulars tapering off. Whether it was gimmick or grand reflection was pointless in the end. Soon it would be over.
> You’re shutting it down Stapes?
> Chuck, sometimes you gotta let a great thing go. Yeah, I’m shutting her down.
I put Juan in charge. Gave him the keys, passcodes, landlord’s number. His family moved in the next week, though Juan spun it like a public exhibition. Blinds pulled, front door open to all.
City shut that down about six hours.
> So the ‘other’ couldn’t get a permit?
> Not in this town Chuck. Damn. Chinese?
– C. R. Stapor is a writer, rambler, and raconteur. He currently lives in Tennessee, where he’s working on a novel titled The Accidents. His hobbies include bicycles, chopsticks, and bourbon.