Caleb Echterling makes his own hot sauce. His short story “Haikuzilla” won first prize in the 2016 Bartleby Snopes Dialogue Contest. He tweets funny fiction using the imaginative handle @CalebEchterling.
The Emerald Lofts
Once there was a green, high-rise apartment building. It had a spotless laundry room in the basement. The top floor held a gym with state-of-the-art elliptical machines and a bank of widescreen TVs. Everyone said it was the most beautiful rental property in town.
Three tenants sat in the laundry’s plush recliners and read trashy celebrity gossip rags. A man with a shaved bald head patted his pockets. “Aww crap. I’ve locked myself out. If I don’t take my heart medication, I’ll die. Can you guys help me out?”
“No problem, Tim,” said a man with stringy flaxen hair. He pulled out an iPhone. “I’ll give it a quick google. Aww crap, my battery’s dead. And I’ve lost the charger. Maybe it’s turned up in lost and found. Howard, you gotta help us find the landlady.”
“That’s C. Howard, if you don’t mind,” said a mountain man beard. “I’ve been meaning to ask the landlady for my Dale Carnegie tapes back, but I always chicken out at the last minute.”
A woman with shoulder-length pigtails walked into the laundry. “I hope someone here can help me. I have an appointment to see the two bedroom apartment for rent. But I can’t find the building manager anywhere.”
“You don’t want the building manager. You want to see the landlady. And the only way to do that is to throw those red Chuck Taylors into a dryer.” Howard fished the ratty sneakers from under the seats, and set them to tumble dry low. The thumpa-thumpa from the dryer drum harmonized with pounding footsteps from the hallway.
A woman in a kelly green pantsuit kicked open the door. “If you people ruin my dryer, I’m taking all your security deposits.”
“Landlady, landlady,” everyone cried. “You’ve got to help us.”