Toni stepped back out into the hall to double check the number on the door. She shook her head. Of course it was her apartment. Her key would not have worked if it wasn’t.
“Oh, there you are! This cake is fantastic, honey, you want some?”
An older woman and man were sitting comfortably on Toni’s couch. The woman had a wide, warm smile. The man, with an equally pleasant smile, placed his empty plate on the coffee table and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Darn good!” he replied.
Wildly confused, Toni looked down the hallway to the apartment building exit, contemplating if she should make a run for it. She looked back at the couple in her apartment. The woman was standing now, holding out a plate with a piece of cake.
“Well, come on in, honey!,” the woman said. “Look! I got us some cake. Have a piece!”
Toni walked cautiously into her living room, leaving her front door wide open as a precaution and clutching her purse and coat against her chest as if it was armor.
The man asked, “Have a good day?”
“Uh, can I…”
The woman stepped toward Toni with the slice of cake. Toni back up a couple of steps, waving the woman off.
“No, I don’t…”
“Oh, come on, now, don’t be like that. Have a piece! We got it from the bakery you told us all about,” the woman said.
Toni thrust her hand out to stop the woman’s further approach. “Excuse me, but…what…how the hell did you get into my place?!”
The man huffed, “Well, you didn’t leave us a key, so what’ya think? We had to find the manager!”
“What? He just let you in?!”
Toni took out her phone and dialed the building manager, retreating back into the hallway to wait for him to answer her call.
The man and woman exchanged disbelieving looks. The woman walked into the kitchen. Toni heard her throw the plate with the slice of cake she had been holding into the sink. The woman came back out, and in a low, angry tone that sounded almost like a growl announced to the man that they were leaving. The man shot Toni a look, which she thought seemed strangely sad.
The man and woman left the apartment, slamming the apartment door behind then and aggressively brushing past Toni where she stood in hall. As they cleared the apartment building exit, Toni heard the woman curse a blue streak.
Toni’s call to the building manager went to voicemail. She sent a text instead, trembling as she keyed in her message. She then went back into her apartment and started to go through all her belongings to see if anything was missing. Maybe the man and woman were burglars. A sweet old couple like them? The manager would never suspect them of being anything other than her parents, or an aunt and uncle.
A couple of hours later Toni overheard her neighbor talking in the hallway to another resident.
“John finally found his grandparents at a hotel downtown. They said I threw them out! I was so confused, like, how could I throw them out when I hadn’t even seen them!”
“But you left them a key under your mat, right?” replied the other.
“They said they didn’t find the key and so they had to get the manager to let them in.”
“Have you talked to the manager?”
“No, he hasn’t returned my calls. God, they are so pissed. Now they won’t even answer the phone. John’s gone to the hotel to talk to them. It’s just so screwed up!”
Toni shyly opened her door and approached her fellow tenants. “Sorry, um,” she began, and then gave out a little laugh. “Hi. I’m Toni. Yeah, uh, I think I know what happened.”
In response to TBP Redux #14