Open Relationship

It is a long haul home in one sense, thought Antonio – three long ladders, all strapped together, rising thirty feet. It seems like an endless series of steps, like railway sleepers running past you at increasing speed; plus it’s trickier when you have shopping bags.

The fourth floor isn’t that high, he thought, but the ladder isn’t going straight up like a ship’s ladder. It’s angled about 45o, so the only things it touches are the ground and my apartment – my apartment, not theirs – on its √30ft2 x 30ft2, approx 45 ft length using Pythagoras’ formula for triangles. Clever guy that Pythagoras; I wonder if he would have approved of this solution.

Antonio’s ascent was somewhat awkward and entirely outdoors, but still quicker than walking all the way round to the apartment block entrance – up three sets of stairs – along many corridors – though endless sets of fire doors – past fire alarms – sprinklers –

CCTV – all to get to his apartment. It had been a year since Antonio had walked into the manager’s office and said to him, “I’m not paying any more management fees.”

“Why not?” he’d asked.

“Because I own this apartment, and pay $800/month to the bank for the privilege. And then for some unknown reason, I must pay a further $800 to you. That’s disgusting.”

The manager looked away, and fiddled with his desk toy. Five steel balls on wires were set in motion – by pulling away and releasing a ball at one end that bashed the others, and sent a ball at the opposite end outwards, which returned and continued the motion in reverse – and never stopped. Then he said, “But you must pay your fees to cover facilities. You have signed a contract. It is your obligation.”

“Screw my obligation. There is no such thing. There is free will and choice. That’s it.” He fixed a stare to the manager. “I’m not going to use your facilities. I’ve got my apartment. That’s all I need.”

“How will you do that?” said the manager, staring at his desk toy. “How will you get up there? How will you get in and out? You need our facilities.”

“You’ll see,” Antonio had said. “You’ll see.” He didn’t have a clue, but had set things in motion now and didn’t wish to back down. He realized that the management company fully owned the paved approach, the entrance lobby, the stairs, the corridors, and safety doors. He couldn’t set foot, or lay hand, on any of them without owing dues. So there was only one solution – an external approach.

He borrowed long ladders from a builder friend, and engaged the spirit of Pythagoras. Pythagoras was a mighty mathematician, of course, but more than that he was an idealist – some would say extremist. His commune in Croton, South Italy was a radical place, where all activity was directed towards the study of mathematics. Eating beans was banned – as flatulence was distracting. Like many great philosophers, Pythagoras was persecuted by the State. The great Socrates, for example, had been made to drink a cup of hemlock. Antonio decided that he would not allow the System to treat him like Socrates, but neither would he hide away like Pythagoras. He was a landowner, dammit! A man’s home is his castle. And a castle is home to a king.

The management company tried everything to remove Antonio. He was locked in, locked out, and kicked out. He was roughed up, blackmailed, threatened, and arrested. But his strength as an orator from his fourth floor window, and his unkempt, philosophical persona, saw him through these trials. People were moved by his arguments for the dignity of man; they were inspired by his notions of free will and free action. He said to them, “No one is free who has not obtained the empire of himself.” Here was someone to believe in at last; a true person. The manager sensed the local mood and stopped hassling him for now, saying they were looking into “structured legal positions”.

Despite his successful ladder setup, it was tiring getting in and out, so Antonio spent much of his time in his apartment reading Karl Marx. Yes, workers were duped by capitalists all over the world; they must rise up to reclaim their dignity. What was this bullshit notional rent they were charging for facilities he owned already? The apartment was his, so his access was implicit; he had eternal right-of-way. He would not accept their hidden charges; a filthy mixture of corruption, theft, profit, and tax.

Antonio’s neighbours liked his style. They hated paying management fees too, and never really understood their purpose, or where they went. The block’s facilities were functional and complete; the only ongoing costs were hallway lighting, lift operation, and occasional cleaning – how did that cost $800/month per owner? The managers were clearly crooks that must be challenged and resisted. Why should honest, hard-working folk shell out for made-up, bullshit costs? The apartment owners locked out the manager, and elected Antonio their leader. When the manager complained, Antonio said to him, “Be silent or let thy words be worth more than silence.” The manager kept quiet.

On his first day in the manager’s office, Antonio calculated the monthly bill for communal services. It came to $600 per property owner. So they had been ripping him off, the bastards! He drew up bills for his comrade-owners – $600 costs plus $200 admin charges for all his efforts. This was much fairer. Every man must be rewarded for his labour.

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