Here's lookin at you kid...

Here's lookin at you kid...
The eyes are the windows to the soul...

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Chapter 1

Visitors to the apartment would probably wonder at a few things. The fully automated security blinds on all the windows for one thing. Why would an apartment need such high security, so high up above the rest of the city? Even the windows that didn't have a balcony outside had the shutters. The visitor would possibly assume paranoia - or perhaps the more fanciful would imagine vampire. In the kitchen, the lack of any foodstuffs, cooking implements etc may encourage another fleeting notion of vampiric occupation.
The apartment was scrupulously tidy, almost as though the owner didn’t live there much. Again, once it had been thought of, vampire springs to mind as a likely reason.
The aforementioned visitor would be wrong in all of their assumptions. The owner of the apartment was not a vampire and was certainly not paranoid.
Apart from the fact that the apartment was very much lived in, used and loved, it also never received visitors. Not one. Never.
In fact, the whole of that floor was accessed by only one person – the owner of the apartment.
The mail was delivered to a secure box in the foyer and though there was the option for a trusted and well vetted employee of the building’s maintenance firm, it was not used. The cleaning service was expensive as cleaning goes but it was an opt-in or out service and it had been opted out of for the top floor. 
As another, far more utilised service, all visitors were screened and checked. If the occupant had neglected to give the name of any visitor, then even if the visitor had been regularly allowed in for years previously, if there was no name on the list, then there was no admittance, not even for maids, butlers and cleaners.
The Security Guy had slipped up only once and before his shift had ended, he was replaced.
“If the name’s not down, they’re not getting in” was the unofficial motto.
If there was paranoia to be assumed, then it did not begin with the choice of security shutters. Paranoia, if indeed that was the opinion, went further back than that, where the choice of the building had been made. Anyone living in that building wanted and paid for the ultimate in absolute security.
It took a while to get to know everyone in the building but the security firm prided itself on being the very best. No effort was too large or too little. Even the pampered pooches were recognised and referred to by name. But more than that, the Security Guy had to be intuitive too.
A hangover? The Security Guy would speak quietly if at all.
A funeral? The Security Guy offered respectful condolence or dignified silence, a black armband and on the one occasion, a tissue and a shoulder to lean on.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, was too much trouble for the Security Guy but the occupants also knew that they would never be allowed to debase, humiliate or take advantage of the Security Guy. They were expected to have more class than that. And yes, it does come as a complete shock when that point is rammed home.
The playboy that argued with the Security Guy because his three guests, two beautiful women and his best friend - a regular and recognised visitor, had been refused entry found that his lease was terminated the next day. His lawyers found that the lease, signed by dear ol’ dad was airtight. Dear ol’ dad had to renegotiate a new lease for the apartment that excluded his playboy son from even making visits to the building and because he valued the apartment, he was pleased to do so.
The diva (not in a good way) film star, aging and petulant, also found out just how binding the lease was. When she tried to insist that her Teacup Papillion was taken outside by the Security Guy ‘for a tinkle‘, she found herself a new apartment – again, the very next day.  
The Security Guys were respectful, polite and very well paid. They took their job seriously because the firm was the one that those in their trade aspired to work for. It was the pinnacle of security work, the height of an outstanding career.
When they became tired of being on the road, getting shot at for presidents and presidente, sick of the demanding film stars and rock gods, the move to make was to snag a post at ‘Crystal Securities - Clearly a Cut Above‘. It was a career move that meant good health benefits, a decent pension scheme (optional) and self respect. Sure, the hours were long and unsociable and there were the dangers of armed robberies too, especially back in the early days. There was also the worry of rival firms trying to muscle in on the classier action. All the disadvantages were compensated for and outweighed by the benefits. The armed robberies happened so infrequently that it had almost become one of the things they warn about and train for ‘just in case’. 
Unfortunately, the danger of a rival firm trying to take over was all too real. Until those kinds of firms got the message and moved on to try other, less able security firms, the Security Guys had to be on full alert at all times.
They’d get the hint, sooner or later, one way or another but until they did, if that situation occurred, it was a case of all leave cancelled and all hands on deck.
But at the end of the day, the employees knew which side their bread was buttered. Crystal Securities looked after its employees and they repaid with loyalty.