The Lighter Side of Travel
Humor Catalog

Art and Accidents
Staff writer

So I'm back in Florida packing some things to take up to my chateau in New York, when I get the bright idea that I want to make some pillows for the NY pad.

But from what fabric shall I create these pillows? Chintz? Velvet? Flannel? Chenille? Chenille! I love chenille—the look of the 1940's. I want white chenille pillows and something bright and lively to accompany them. Preferably something from the Martha Stewart fabric collection—I've become a big fan of Martha's. As my friend Morty says, "God bless Martha Stewart for bringing good taste to the masses—now any K-Mart shopper can get their hands on something Martha Stewart."

She's right. You can call Martha Stewart a bitch; God knows we've heard rumors, but the woman has taste.

I decide to trot off to Joann's fabrics where they sell chenille and Martha Stewart fabric and most importantly, they're having a 50% off sale.

As I begin my descent from my fifth floor penthouse, I notice my neighbor and her boyfriend in the parking lot below me, staring at one of the first floor apartments. Then I notice the yellow tape and the cops. Great. Now what? It seems every other day there's police tape somewhere around this building. When I moved here two years ago every one said how quiet it was. Which it is for the most part—if you don't count the the suicide on the first floor and the drunk guy on the third floor who, for about an hour one night , was screaming "faggot" at another guy on the second floor, until the cops came. Oh, and the five false fire alarms within three months that all happened between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.that included two screaming fire engines and about a dozen firemen with axes. And really if you're gonna nit pick, there was a second suicide in the building behind me preceded of course, by loud gunshots. I asked my friend Morty what's up with all these suicides. She said, "Maybe the rents are too high."

I get to the parking lot and my neighbor spots me and waves me over.
"What's going on?" I ask. "Is someone dead?"
"Not yet," says my neighbor, pointing ahead of her. "But take a look at this!"

I walked in front of her and saw one whole side of an apartment completely smashed in; three windows and a cement wall demolished. A large white car, with its rear-end sticking out of the debris, was the culprit. It was like looking at props on a Hollywood movie set—you can't believe you're seeing something so weird in real life.

"Was anyone hurt?" I ask. "And HOW THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN?"

My neighbor explained: "Nobody was hurt bad. Thank God the guy who lived there went out. That's his bedroom. The lady on the fifth floor, whose parking space that is, she got a little banged up, not too bad. She thought she was stepping on the brake and instead stepped on the gas."

"From where? Two hundred yards away? You gotta build up some momentum to go over a cement parking bump and crash through a solid wall and three windows!" I tell her.

My neighbor's boyfriend pipes up: "You think she would have realized it sooner," he says sucking on a cigarette. "I'll bet the guy who lives there is gonna kill her when he finds out."

I peer at the car, so boldly embedded in the wall. It sits there looking like some large abstract piece of sculpture you'd expect to find at an avant-garde Soho art gallery—the kind with the usual array of hip onlookers making comments like: Brilliant! The artist's use of cement, glass and metal is so impactful. It's Kafka-esque in a demolition derby sort of way. Is this piece signed?" Yeah, down the bottom where it says, 'Lincoln.'

"It's always something here," says my neighbor, snapping me out of my daydream. "Suicides, fires, drive-throughs—it's like living in Miami."

A few days later, I'm pulling into my parking space and I see one of my other neighbors, a short blonde with an extremely nasal voice who also lives on the first floor where the accident occurred. This neighbor once told me she's psychic and she knows for a fact we're all living in a dream world and the real world is the next world we go to when we die. As a result, she stays in a lot. This neighbor is also one of those people who doesn't understand 'personal boundaries' and has a need to talk to you three inches from your face. I tried slipping quietly from my car to the elevator but she spotted me.

"So what do you think about that accident?" she asks me, two and three-quarter inches from my nose. "You know that woman, the one that did it, she drinks a little." She makes the imaginary glass to the lips gesture.

"A little? I'd hate to see her after a lot." I answer.

"And you know," she says, giving me a sage-like look, "I had a dream about that suicide in our building; I had a vision somebody Asian was involved, which means it really wasn't a suicide. That's what the police want you to believe..."
What that meant, I have no idea.

"Listen, I really gotta pee," I tell her, and run off towards the elevator. The minute I get inside, the phone rings. It's Morty. I tell her what happened.

"What is there a curse on your building?" she asks me. "Is it built on some ancient Indian burial ground?"

"They could film Survivor here." I tell her. "Hey don't you think that car in the building would make realistic sculpture?" I ask her, exposing my brilliant idea.

"No," she says.

"I didn't think so." I say.

Later, as I sit on my balcony which overlooks the other suicide building, I thank the Universe I'm on the fifth floor. Nobody can drive their car into my bedroom at least. I'm safe up here.

I look up at the beautiful Florida sky and that a small plane heading towards me?


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