Author's Note:

The plan here is to write a serial, I have a lot of ideas for this story, and so I'm just going to keep adding them.  This will be long, to those who like short and sweet; I apologize and to the others, be prepared for some angst and some good times too.  Please R/R with suggestions, comments, telling me you love me, telling me you hate me, whatever you need to say…

I now bring you part one of:     

"Community Of Their Own"

"The darkened loft sits undisturbed while its inhabitants are supposed to be asleep.  These walls hold thousands of memories from the many artists that had resided in this space prior to the current occupants.  Pan the large room that serves as a kitchen, bedroom, and living room. Notice the small counter, small refrigerator and even smaller gas stove that line one wall.  A pedestal sink stands near another door, which behind it holds only a standup shower and a toilet.  A broken mirror hangs above the sink."  I zoom in on my reflection in the cracked mirror, before turning to the next wall. I continue the narration, whispering into the camera, "On the adjacent wall, a mattress lies on the floor, with two milk crates standing in for nightstands.  A lamp and an alarm clock sit on one, the other, is turned over and filled with miscellaneous objects ranging from old magazines to cassette tapes.  The mattress is separated from the rest of the room by an old ripped sheet, hung clumsily along the heating pipes, that snaked throughout the room, rusted except for patches of white paint that fall off daily.  When the heat is actually turned on, the pipes clank and bang loudly, making it impossible for sleep to come to anyone who tried."  I close in on the pipes that run along the low ceiling and the few poles that stand in the center of the room.  "Along the wall, another mattress, this one with no attempt at privacy.  Instead of milk crates, old boxes sit next to the bed.  Against the wall, directly under the only barred window, sits a Fender guitar, waiting for its owner to awake himself and the instrument."  I center the camera on Roger, sleeping, then move it to the tables.   "At the center of the room, a long folding table, and various chairs take up residence.  There actually is a table under the collection of papers, mail, and other diverse materials."

            A loud, blaring noise interrupts the still momentum of the room.  I reluctantly shut the camera off and quickly hurry to my bed to turn off the alarm.  "Sorry, Roger…" I whisper, not certain if it awoke him or not.

"What the hell time is it?"  Roger's voice mumbles from under his pillow.

            "6:30.  Go back to sleep."  I hear Roger speak unclearly and interpret that he is asking why I was up.  "I promised Maureen I'd help her today."  I gently toss the camera on the mattress and grab some clothes from the pile near the milk crate.  For the eighth day in a row, I remind myself to do laundry.

            "Sucker!"  Roger's voice was no longer muffled, as the pillow had been removed and his head rest comfortably on it. 

            "Yeah, I know, thanks."  I am a sucker and I know it.  I am only a sucker for a few things, chocolate chip cookies, an incredible movie and Maureen.  Perhaps Roger, also, but I don't think too much about that.  I lean over, making sure the alarm is actually off, and start towards the shower.  As I casually step on some insect that was making its way towards Roger, I absently wonder why exactly I was up and moving at this hour.  It wasn't unusual for me to be up, I hardly ever slept, but to actually be showering and getting ready, this was unusual.

            Still, after all this time, I would do anything for Maureen.  As the cold water hits my skin, I try to back away from the stream, but the shower is so small there is no escape.  I think about her calling the night before. The digital clock said 11:44 and as usual, I let the machine pick it up. 


            "Mark, sweetie, it is Maureen.  Marky, I need your help!  Please if you are there, pick up…. It's an emergency!"  The urgency in her voice willed me to pick up the phone, though deep down I knew that an emergency in Maureen's universe was much different than what the normal person considered an emergency.

            "Hey… what's wrong?"  I answered the phone and continued the conversation in one fowl swoop.

            "Joanne promised to help me with my protest tomorrow, but now she said she has to work!"  I heard Joanne yell something in the background but couldn't quite make it out.  "Would you please… pretty please help me!?!"  Her voice was almost piercing and I had to hold the phone inches from my ear in order to save my hearing.

            "What are you protesting?"

            "Oh, you know, Benny and the eviction of the homeless… and…"

            "Maureen, that was two years ago, I think the homeless found somewhere else to stay," Sometimes it was hard for her to let things go.

             "Yeah, but they are supposed to start construction of CyberArts tomorrow and I plan on protesting and handcuffing myself to the chain link fence… and…"

            "Are you sure Joanne has to work or she just doesn't want to get arrested?"  I laughed to myself, knowing full well that Joanne would never concede to anything illegal.

            "Who knows… would you help me set up though?"

            I thought quickly for an excuse, any excuse.  "Uh… I have work to do…"

            "Marky… pleeeeaaaaaaasseee???!!??"

            I knew she wouldn't let me out of it, "Fine, fine, when do you need me?"


            "Ok, I'll see you tomorrow night then."

            "No, no, no… six AM!"

            "You are joking right?"

            "No, I want the protest to be at noon and we need a lot of time to set up.  You already said you would do it!"

            I shook his head, "Fine, I'll meet you in the lot at six."


            As I step out of the shower, I hear a loud banging noise.  'Shit Maureen," The one time she is actually on time.  I quickly pull on my pants and walk out, with my shirt over my head as I walk toward the door.  Roger was already staggering back towards his bed, his eyes barely open, with Maureen behind him.

            "Mark, you said you'd be there at six!"  She shouts at me, and I motion for her to quiet down.

            "Yeah, I know, I overslept, I'm ready now though."  I never actually thought she would be on time.  I grab my coat, and my camera and open the door, but as an afterthought I stop and go towards Roger.  "Hey Roger, I'll be at the lot if you need me."  I hear a grumble from the figure sprawled out on the mattress and it satisfies me enough and Maureen and I leave the loft.

            "I thought he was living with Mimi?"  Maureen's voice was a loud whisper.  I nod slightly as we walk past Mimi's door.  "Why is he upstairs?  They have another fight?"

We were outside now, but I continue using a hushed voice, the early hour still bothering me.  "Yeah, I guess, he didn't say much."

            "Does he ever?"

            "Good point."

            "So what happened?"  Maureen looks at me expectantly.

            "I told you, I'm not sure, but I think Benny showed up last night."  I'm not one for gossip, but I know Maureen gets excited at the slightest bit of news. 

            "Really, what did Mr. Yuppie Scum USA want?"

            "I have no idea, I just saw him walking around outside last night, and about fifteen minutes later, Roger was upstairs moping."

            "I hope Mimi's ok."  She said it more to herself than to me.  That is the thing about Maureen, no matter how self-absorbed she seems, she really cares about her friends.  The sincerity doesn't last long as we approach a pile of equipment left near the barbed wire.  "So here we are!"

            "You just left that out, in this neighborhood?"  I raise an eyebrow at her.

            "At this time of day?  I really wasn't worried."  She takes a box and starts emptying various objects, including clown shoes and a red round nose. 

            "Uh, Maureen?  What's that for?"

            "I'm going to be dressing up as a clown to protest the clowns who think they can just do what they want with this lot."

            "Uh, Maureen, they DO own it, so technically, they have the right to do what they want with it."

            "Oh shut up, Mark and just set up the equipment." 

"Yes, dear, anything you say."  I laugh and get to work.

A few hours pass quickly, as Maureen has not stopped talking for a moment, and I seem to be doing all the work.  I have heard her practice her performance three different times, each time she changes the way she sings "Send In The Clowns".  I don't believe she actually knows the lyrics, though I don't think anyone actually does.  She also babbled about her and Joanne and their many fights.  It used to make me cringe to hear her talk about Joanne, but time has made it easier.  In actuality, I know, even if there was no Joanne, Maureen and I wouldn't be together anymore by this time.  We broke up more than they do. 

            She is the middle of a tirade about Joanne never wanting to go out and do anything fun when we are interrupted.  Two policemen approach us and ask what we are doing.      

            Maureen stands tall and approaches them, but I stop her before she says anything.

            "We are having a performance here this afternoon," I smile and try and look innocent.

            "PROTEST!!!"  Maureen pushes herself past me, "WE ARE HAVING A PROTEST!  WELL I AM ANYWAY!"  We exchange glares, and I shake my head.
            "Do you have permission to stage a protest here?  Or permits for setting up this equipment?"  The second officer, Officer Pearson, short and stocky steps forward.

            "Uh… the owner Benjamin Coffin III is a friend of ours."
            "He's no friend of mine!"  Does the girl not know when to shut up?  She steps up to the officers, "Look, Mister NYPD Blue, we have the freedom to demonstrate in this country and I plan to do just that!"

            "NOT without a permit, you don't."  He stepped closer to Maureen, "Besides the owner, Mr. Addison Grey called us to make sure the construction will go smoothly with no interruptions."

            "No sir…" I stammer, "Mr. Grey sold the lot and that building," I point to our current abode, "to Benny, when he married his daughter."  Out of the corner of my eye, I see Maureen bending down to the box of the miscellaneous items.  I see her pull out something shiny and I shake my head at her, trying to get her to stop.  She doesn't even look at me.

            They laughed at me. "Well, sir…" he mocks me, "I spoke to Mr. Grey myself this morning, and I have specific instructions to arrest your friend Benny if he steps anywhere near this lot or that building."  I look at him confused and then over to Maureen, still trying to tell her not to do it. 

            I'm too late; she slapped the handcuff around her wrist and then walked over to the barbwire while I was talking with Officer Pearson.  'Oh Maureen, I'm going to kill you…' The policemen spot me looking over at Maureen and turn their attention to her.  Hard not to notice her actually, she is singing "Send In The Clowns" at the top of lungs.

            "Where is the key?"  She ignores them and continues singing.  Officer Pearson turns to me, and demands the key.  I shrug.

            "I… I don't know… I'll look."  I bend down over the box and start fishing through for a key, but finding nothing.           

            "There is no key, Marky," Maureen taunts, "I threw it away!"

            "Oh for Christ Sake Maureen, are you kidding me?"  I feel out of control as the other policeman, Officer Sullivan waves his own handcuffs at me.

            "Marky," he taunts,  "I'm afraid you are disturbing the piece.  I think you may have to take a ride with me."  I back up from them. 

            "I… didn't… I haven't done anything."

            "Didn't you see him take a swing at me Bruce?"  Sullivan turns to his partner who nods.  He steps up to me, "Look, Mr. Grey said no problems, and you and your girlfriend here are a problem!"  I am speechless, the only thing going through my mind are the hundreds of ways I can kill Maureen.

            "Look, we'll clean up, there will be no protest."  I plead with the cop.

             "You are right about that, hands behind your head."

            "SEND IN THE CLOWNS!!! SAVE THE LOT!!!" 

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