"Hey Jimmy, Marge said she replaced the light bulb that the guests in room 202 were complaining about, but it's still buzzing." Phil tugged on the collar of his shirt, trying to loosen it just a little. Mid-morning and the Florida weather was already warm and humid. It was going to be one of those days were Phil regretted having to wear the red and white speckled tie that marked him as the manager of the Suite Nights Hotel.
"Marge?" Jimmy, or Mr. Fix it as Phil thought of him, looked up from the dining room chair he was repairing. Jimmy wore a gray, stained cap on his bald head, was slightly overweight, and had a faded tattoo on his forearm that may have once been an anchor or a mermaid, though now it was just an amorphous blob.
"You know Marge, the new maid," Phil said.
"Oh, right, haven't had a chance to meet her yet. Let me just finish here and I'll head right up," Jimmy focused on tightening the chair's wobbly leg. "One of the kids must have leaned back on it too far," he said.
Phil sighed and was once again reminded of his favorite joke to tell. He loved the hotel business if it wasn't for the guests.
"Thanks Jimmy, try to get up there today."
"I'll do my best, sir, but if the buzzing wasn't the bulb, it could be something much more involved. It could take all day."
"I don't think those guests were planning to be back before this evening. Hopefully that will give you enough time," Phil said.
Jimmy set the chair down on the floor and gave it an experimental push. It didn't budget. "Good as new," he declared.
Phil patted Jimmy on the back. "I don't know what we would do without you, Jimmy."
Jimmy hoisted his toolbox and headed up to Room 202. The buzzing lamp was in the bedroom, where it was certain to be annoying.
The maids had already been through, but Jimmy still put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door. Then he sat down on the sofa, took a bottle of Coke out of his toolbox, and flicked on the television, making certain that the volume was low. He was in luck, HBO was re-running Snakes On A Plane. Jimmy settled in to watch Samuel L Jackson kick some Anaconda butt.
In an unbelievable stroke of good luck, The Expendables came on when Snakes ended.
"Ya can't turn off Sly Stallone," he told himself, and opened another Coke.
Halfway through the movie his phone beeped. He muted the television and answered.
"How is it going up there Jimmy?" Phil asked.
Jimmy looked toward the door to make sure that it was still shut and locked. It was.
"It's a tough nut to crack, sir, but I think I should be done in about," he looked at the screen. Sly and his team were on the verge of freeing the hostages, "thirty minutes," Jimmy said.
"Alright. The pool filter seems to be acting up again, maybe you can check on it before you leave."
"Will do," Jimmy hung up.
Thirty minutes later Stallone finished gunning down the last of the bad guys in a hail of bullets and cheesy catch phrases. Jimmy turned off the television, put the empty coke bottles back in his tool box, and made sure to smooth out the pillows on the couch.
Then he walked into the bedroom and picked up the buzzing lamp. Flipping it over, he adjusted a wire in the base that had come loose. The buzzing stopped.
As he headed toward the door he took a short detour into the bathroom. Reaching down behind the toilet, he turned the water valve slightly to the left. He felt a small bead of water form under his finger. It was so small that no one would notice it, this week. But in two weeks or so, a puddle would develop that would be impossible to ignore.
Jimmy smiled and wondered what would be on HBO that week. Then he headed down to the pool to look at the "malfunctioning" filter.
copyright 2013 John Lance