Sam the turnkey

elmooreskies6Neither fish nor foul, October has always been like a stepping stone into the jaws of winter.

And so it was on that dreary Friday afternoon as the El Moore stood silently against the gray sky, an echo of a much grander once-upon-a-time buried out of sight and out of mind in the memories of those who had come and gone through its doors for more than a century. Like a dead relative, the El Moore now lived in the dreams, smiles, and frowns of others, seemingly destined to fade one shade at a time as their memories of a grand red brick building began to be replaced by more recent experiences and events.

None of which meant anything to Sam, who sat outside in a dusty red pickup truck wearing a gray hoodie beneath a thick red and black plaid work coat and jeans as he checked a small pile of grubby paperwork scattered across his lap. He sat there mumbling as the engine idled roughly before finally pausing to focus on a particular page, and then squinting his dark, bloodshot eyes. He nodded to himself, then turned to look up at the El Moore, sizing it up from top to bottom.

“Yep,” he said, as he took a long draw on the cigarette that dangled from between his lips, practically nothing but ash burnt down nearly to the filter.

“This has gotta be it.”

Sam turned off the ignition, then shoved open the door and tossed the remains of his Newport into the gutter as he stepped outside of his truck, then slammed the door hard behind him without bothering to lock it. He looked cautiously up and down Alexandrine, assessing his surroundings, then walked his large frame toward the front entrance with a bit of a limp. As he made his way he reached inside his jacket down near his belt and patted something hard, grunted, then made his way up the few steps to the front door of the building. He looked up at the green lettering, then cocked his head to the side.

“The El Moore, huh?” he said aloud to no one in particular.

“Wonder who in the hell chose green for those letters…?”

He shook his head, then chuckled.

“Guess maybe somebody thought it was some kinda fancy.”

He reached into the pocket of his work coat, then produced a large coal gray-colored lock that he placed through the handles of the two doors, then clicked it shut hard with a metallic finality. He shook the doors a couple times just to make sure, then turned away back down the stairs. Once back inside the truck he switched on the ignition, reached inside his shirt pocket, pulled out another cigarette. Lit it. Then reached for the small pile of paperwork once again.

“So what we got next?” he whispered.

Postscript:

Late summer evening, 2015, and the El Moore is lit up from top to bottom. The party is stretching on into the night as the new residents celebrate their new surroundings, their new neighbors, and their new neighborhood. They celebrate the El Moore.

What was old is new again…

About Keith Owens

Keith Owens is a freelance writer, columnist, blogger and musician whose most recent work has been featured in Model D Detroit, BLAC Detroit, and the national political affairs blog PoliticusUSA. He has also published three novels through Detroit Ink Publishing (www.detroitinkpublishing.com), the eBook publishing company he co-founded with his wife, Pamela Hilliard Owens. Keith and Pam live in a 100-year-old home in the Historic Boston-Edison District a few miles north of the El Moore.

El Moore