In 1975 I was a Security Guard at the Shores. As I wrote two weeks ago, once I played a practical joke on Hosny, an Egyptian-born chain-smoking, self-appointed “Chief of Security.” He stood 5’4 on a tall day, had a shaved head and a temper. He also had the unique habit upon arriving for his midnight to 8 A.M. shift of changing into silk pajamas. With a big bottle of Scotch, he then proceeded to entertain various female residents in his poor man’s “boudoir,” using the Leasing Office, with its plush leather couches.

He didn’t say why but he insisted I go home early. (So he could prepare for his tryst.) I was all too glad to let him punch me out on the time clock but one night as I left I thought of a practical joke. (A la Flip Wilson, “The devil made me do it.”) Disguising my voice as an old man over the elevator phone, I reported a fake emergency and then hid in the bushes to watch. Moments later, Hosny came dashing out of the Office in his leather jacket and PJ bottoms. I thought it was hysterical. Until the joke backfired.

Because of my penchant for impressions Hosny figured out it was me. But he couldn’t get too angry because I still covered for his late night rendezvous. But to scare me, one night when he arrived at work he was already drunk and in a foul mood. Showing me his gun wasn’t loaded, he nonetheless aimed it at me and pulled the trigger. It was chilling. Clearly, my practical jokes on him were over. Unfortunately there was more fallout to come.

About two weeks later, a retired doctor visiting friends at the Shores got stuck in an elevator while Hosny was on duty. (Entertaining in his PJ’s.) The doctor used the elevator emergency phone, “Help, I’m stuck!” Hosny responded, “F**k you, Jack!” and hung up. (Apparently, the doctor’s voice and my disguised voice were similar.)

The doctor called back repeatedly, worried claustrophobia was going to give him a heart attack. Hosny’s insults got nastier and hang-ups faster. The doctor kept pleading, “I don’t know who this Jack is, but I’m not him!” Finally he persuaded Hosny to check with the tenants he’d been visiting. When the tenants verified the doctor’s story, Hosny freaked out! (As did the tenants.)

Hosny immediately called the Fire Department and hurriedly changed out of his pajamas. SMFD managed to extricate the doctor out of the elevator after being trapped for over an hour, shaken and understandably furious. Meanwhile I was totally oblivious, enjoying my days off.

When I came to work on Monday I was instructed that Bernie and Kay, the elderly resident managers, wanted to see me immediately. A married couple right out of the 1950’s, the even wore matching leisure suits. To my total dismay, they were blaming me! “If you hadn’t tricked Hosny this never would have happened!” Me? If Hosny hadn’t changed into his pajamas this wouldn’t have happened! But I didn’t’ say so. It ended that to save my job I had to get the doctor to accept my apology. (Meaning he wouldn’t sue.)

Even though days had passed, the doctor’s anger hadn’t subsided, “You’re the one!” he barked at me over the phone. “No, actually Dr. it was Hosny. You see –” “Just shuddup!” he snapped. So I did.

For the next fifteen minutes I listened to how he could have died because of my immaturity. I kept repeating contritely as I could fake it, “You’re absolutely right, Dr.” At the end he accepted my apology I think mostly because he wore himself out berating me. (Berating takes energy.)

Months later I was able to get enough writing work so I could afford to quit the Security Guard gig. A few years after that Hosny left the Shores. In fact I didn’t see him for many years until one day I was walking down Pico having dropped my car off at the repair shop. Hosny honked and offered me a ride.

As I got into his cluttered car I noticed a bottle of Scotch on the floor. He had an oxygen tube in his nose connected to a tank also on the floor. To top it off, he was smoking! He had mellowed with age so I tried to make small talk but frankly I was too scared he was going to blow us up. “On second thought, I could use the exercise.” Puzzled, Hosny pulled over.

As I got out he smiled. Obviously referring to his “entertaining” in his PJ’s while on duty, and knowing I was now almost a “real” writer, “You haven’t written about it, have you?” I smiled back, shook my head “no” and got out. And I hadn’t. Until now.

Jack is at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth or jnsmdp@aol.com.

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