Jacqueline MacInnes Wood
OUTSIDE THE MAJOR ST. APARTMENTS
Kian stands dumfounded as Peter steps out of his limo to greet him. Jason stands a bit in behind him, as though Kian somehow will shield him. Peter seems to ignore their awkwardness.
PETER: Hey baby, I thought I'd come surprise you.
KIAN: Oh...heh, great. Umm...Peter, this is my...uh...the manager of the restaurant...umm...
JASON: I'm Jason Toms, nice to meet you, sir.
PETER: Heard a bit about you, Jason. I'dve been a part of the hiring process but I was in New York so I left it all in the hands of my...incredibly capable business partner
Peter winks at Kian, who smiles uncomfortably.
PETER: So, come on. Let's go. A party awaits us!
Kian and Jason look at each other knowingly, equal measures of relief and concern on their faces. They head down the steps to the car.
Through the window on the main level, Joanna Williams peeks through her window at the goings-on outside. The neighbourhood snoop with equal parts gossippy motormouth and all-seeing eyes. Trusting her is out of the question for the residents of the building...at least if they know well enough.
JOANNA: Oooo, Mark, Mark, come see. Kian's got a big, shiny limo to take him to his grand opening.
Mark's in the kitchen, looking around the corner at Joanna. He's used to her nosiness, but it nonetheless agitated.
MARK: Would you stop snooping already? You're gonna get yourself arrested for invading privacy again, and this time I'm not bailing you out.
JOANNA: No, come on! If they've got a stretch limo they WANT people to look! You don't get a limo like that and come up to the door of a place like this if you want people to keep their eyes to themselves and look down at their newspapers. This is an obvious cry for attention. I'm just giving them what they want.
Mark walks over, sandwich in hand, looks quickly out the window and turns around again, sitting down in his easy chair, facing the TV.
MARK: And if you were paying any attention to the look on that boy's face, you'd know he'd rather be locked in the trunk of a Kia than be in that limo.
JOANNA: What on earth are you talking about, Mark?
MARK: It's obvious, something's going on between the two young ones and they don't want Peter to find out about it.
Joanna looks over at him wide-eyed, with a wide grin. Mark looks up at her, realizing what he's just done.
MARK: You know I've lived with you too long. I'm starting to turn into you.
JOANNA: Marriage is beautiful, isn't it? *giggles* I'm going upstairs and telling Mary all about it.
MARK (disinterested): I'm sure she'll give it her usual care and attention.
JOANNA: Hush, go back to watching your football or whatever it is this time of year.
MARK: Hockey still.
JOANNA: Whatever, it's all the same game anyway. BYE!
Mark rolls his eyes, despairing at what he's just done, and goes back to his show.
Joanna heads out the door, and immediately runs into the landlord's cat. Calling out for attention (also food), she picks up her feline friend to bring her upstairs with her. As she's about to step up, Darren exits his apartment next door to hers, heading out the door. She stops him momentarily.
JOANNA: Hey Darren! How's it going?
Darren knows better than to tell Joanna too much, and is polite but guarded.
DARREN: Not a lot, Mrs. Williams. Got a friend's art show tonight I'm gonna check out.
JOANNA: Oh, would you stop with this Mrs. Williams stuff, it's Joanna. Now, this art show. It sounds exciting. What kinda stuff they do.
DARREN: Oh he's a photographer, graphic artist, you know. Name's Calvin J. Really cool stuff, you know?
JOANNA: That's fantastic. Hey, do you know what the limo outside's all about.
Darren knows where this is going and tightens up.
DARREN: Nope. Can't say I do.
JOANNA: Oh well it was just so big and glamourous I just had to ask, you know. I love the glitz and the glam of these new fancy restaurants opening up, and to think we've got an up and coming chef living right under this roof, it's really something! You know?
Darren, midway through this diatribe is already about to go, and tries to be polite but can't hold back any longer.
DARREN: Yea for sure, Mrs. Wils-er Joanna, look, I really gotta go so...I'll see you later.
JOANNA: Oh! Bye Darren, umm, hey, do you have any food scraps for...
Darren runs out the door as fast as possible.
JOANNA: ...the....cat. Okay!
On his way out, Darren walks past Alexis, just stepping out of her car.
DARREN: Hey baby.
ALEXIS: Ugghh, not this again.
DARREN: No seriously, I gotta warn you bout this neighbour we got. I forgot to tell you earlier. Mrs. Williams. BIG ass snoop. Gonna get up in ALL your business. Watch her.
ALEXIS: Noted. Now, please move. In a bit of a hurry.
DARREN: That's cool. I'll catch ya later.
Alexis rolls her eyes, collects herself, and heads inside. Inside, Joanna's slowly making her way up the stairs, cat still in her arms. Alexis moves up the stairs quickly and notices the cat.
ALEXIS: Ugh, good, my boyfriend got rid of it.
JOANNA: What, Misty? Ohhh, she's a sweetheart. She belongs to the landlord, did you wanna hold her?
ALEXIS: NO! ....no, I'm allergic. But thanks. And you are?
JOANNA: Joanna Williams. I'm your downstairs neighbour. You haven't met me yet but...I mean, I knew you were moving in and all. I keep tabs on things around here, you know.
Alexis nods and smiles, but already is looking to get out of this conversation.
ALEXIS: Yeah, I gotcha...well....look. I got an art show tonight I wanna check out, this Calvin J guy. Get some new stuff for the walls...go along with this new apartment and all, so, I'm gonna take off. It was nice to meet you Mrs. Williams.
JOANNA: OH! Call me Joanna!
Joanna laughs uncomfortably as Alexis steps into her apartment quickly and closes the door in Joanna's face. Joanna realizes it's the same artist Darren was mentioning.
JOANNA: Calvin J again. HM! Must be a popular guy.
Joanna heads up the stairs again, up one more floor to Mary's.
Alexis stands, back against the door for a second, eyes wide with relief at getting out of that mess. She calls out for Ryan while looking around the apartment for him.
After checking out all the rooms and realizing he's not there, she checks for a note. Not finding one, she gets a bit aggravated and tries calling Ryan. The ever-present mind that he is, Ryan's left his phone on the desk in his rush to leave for the grand opening. Alexis silently curses him and goes to head off to the art show alone, when she notices a puddle on the ground in the doorway of the bathroom. Looking up at a drip in the ceiling, her frustration increases and she storms out of the room, headed up for the landlord's apartment.
Before knocking, she inevitably runs into Joanna and cat once more.
JOANNA: OH! Fancy running into you again!
ALEXIS: Yeah, imagine that. It's like we just saw each other a minute ago.
JOANNA: *giggles* I know right?
ALEXIS: Right well, if you'll excuse me-
JOANNA: You know, that art show you were going to? Well, that Darren fellow that lives downstairs across from me said he's going too. You should meet him, he's a real cutie. Around your age too! You'd really like--
ALEXIS: We've already met. He seems like a great guy.
JOANNA: OH! So you're going with him. Let me know how that goes.
ALEXIS: I'm...not. Actually. Can you excuse me one second.
JOANNA: Oh sure, take your time. I'm actually just gonna head back down to my apartment and feed Misty. My friend's not home.
Alexis goes to knock on Dan, the landlord's door, just as she does, Joanna stops her yet again.
JOANNA: Oh and before you do that, I knocked on Dan's door too. He's not home. He rarely is. Always travelling somewhere. This time around I heard he was going to Africa.
Joanna stops for a second, Alexis stands facing the door, banging her head against it.
JOANNA: Anyway, it's hard to get ahold of him, last time he was away half the year. He usually just has you give Mary the rent cheques while he's away, but if you wanna get anything fixed, you're better off doing it yourself, honestly.
ALEXIS: Thanks for the advice. Duly noted. Now, if you'll excuse me.
JOANNA: Oh no worries, and say 'hi' to Darren for me.
Alexis dashes off to the art show. Joanna gives Alexis a wink, hoping to hear some juicy gossip later in the evening.
NEXT on NINE LIVES:
The art show begins
A gala to remember?