JUST HOW SCARY ARE COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS?

Posted: September 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

In my mind very. I’ve managed them for years and can tell you that people are very interesting. In truth they’re downright scary. I used to own a catering and entertainment firm and thought that mothers of brides to be were tough to work with. Not a chance in comparison to the people living and working in community associations. Why? Perhaps it’s because the people come from all walks of life and the work in and around is about their home – one of the biggest investments anyone will every make or perhaps it’s because all people are different and each one of us has varied needs.

I’m not sure but I can tell you that when you mix a group of people together and then put in several heated discussions whether it’s about approving painting colors for their homes or about selecting the right landscaper or pool contractor, owners to Committee Chairs, Board member to management – there are multiple opinions on must have’s and wants. The real girl who’s behind penning the PINKED series holds the PCAM designation (Professional Community Association Manager) which only about 1500 exist in the United States and you know what? No one cares in the 400 plus communities I’ve managed. From the richest gated communities to the poorest in section 8 environments – homeowners know better than I do. Uh-huh. So after years of being threatened with lawsuits to having guns pointed in my face I thought penning campy pieces where I get to murder them would be fun!

That’s why PINKED was created. In honor of the new style of my cover – my fabulous publisher and I thought making it grittier was better than the romance novel  – which it’s not – here is a full bit from chapter one of PINKED – still not edited yet so bare with me but… You’ll get the idea. Coming in October from Rebel Ink Press.

PINKED

“Nicky! Your God damned beefcake hotshot developer has managed to get his fat ass impaled on the pool gates. Now I’ve got blood everywhere and people screaming. What are you going to do about it?” The gravelly chastising voice bellowed like a bull in a china shop, insistent and imploring. The man was cranky as hell.

And it pissed the bejesus out of her. “Who the hell are you?” Nicky French fumbled in the dark trying to make sense of why in God’s name she had answered the phone at all in the middle of the night. She sat up. The blood bammed against her forehead so hard it was like tiny and very noisy munchkin men were inside her brain beating to the tune of Michael Jackson’s Beat It.

She thrashed in the direction of the phone and her hand slamming into something. The crash was loud enough to wake the dead. “Holy fuck!”

“What do you mean who is this? Get a grip girl! Do your job! This is Ray!”

Nicky struggled with the covers that had captured her like a prisoner of war, tumbled out of bed and fell directly onto her face. “Ray who?”

Huffing and puffing rumbled through the phone. “Your God damned Board President. That’s who! You know, the one your lousy firm works for?”

Nicky fought her way to the bathroom, cordless phone still in her hand. Ray Switzer. Oh yeah. Famous in his mind anyway. The cranky old guy ran — and she merely thought the words with a chagrin on her face — ran the Board at Leopard’s Pointe, the Premiere Community Association in Chesterfield. Yeah right. She growled. “Ah…Ray. Why exactly are you calling me again in the middle of the night?”

“Are you deaf, girl? The damn developer’s down here on the top of the pool gates. Fucker’s dead as a damn doornail. Causing quite a stir too I might add. Shit woman, I think a party’s ready to break out. Hold on! Marge – stop that. You can’t take pictures with a dead man for Christ’s sake!”

Nicky heard muffled excited voices that had to be hovering directly behind Ray. God, the man drove her absolutely nuts. No, the freaking community drove her nuts. That’s because only nut cases lived there. Yep, her favorite saying remained in the forefront of her mind. You move into a community association, check your brains at the door. Hush girl! Association Management is your chosen profession. Remember?

“No! It won’t make good newsletter material! Sorry Nicky. Damn these women drive me crazy!” Ray huffed.

Who the hell was he talking to? “So are you serious, Ray? Is there really a dead man’s body somewhere in the community?” Groaning, Nicky stabbed at the light. The florescent beams hit her squarely in the eyes. She winced and her head bounced to the moon. Damn! She shouldn’t have had that last fuzzy nipple or pink navel or whatever the hell Ruby forced her to have. Her best friend could make a party out of anything.

“Dead as a damn heart attack, girl. And you wouldn’t believe the rest of it. Get the hell down here now! Oh holy hell! I gotta go, Fred’s bringing out the cheese whiz. Jesus H. Christ! Fred…Fred!

“Ray. Ray!” Snarling, Nicky realized Ray hung up. She dropped the phone with a thud and held onto the bathroom counter. The entire world swooned by her like a bad case of the heebie jeebies. What the hell is the crazed old fool talking about? Somehow she doubted William Barrington the third – and she was required to address the retired ex-New York judge that way — was somehow nestled into the closed pool in the middle of the night. But then again, she found two kids in the back of the bathroom doing the nasty just last week.

And the damned pool had been open what, a week?

Inhaling deeply, Nicky balled her fists and glared at herself in the mirror. She was thirty-one going on a hundred, easily. The damn community had aged her just in the last year alone. There was nothing like two separate cases of raw sewage spewing into several condominium units around a given holiday to boil your blood. She turned on the cool water and splashed a handful in her face remembering she wasn’t on call, not this month. Yet Ray baby knew all of her phone numbers and called her outside of business hours on a regular basis.

Nicky, why haven’t the pool chairs come in?

     Nicky, why aren’t we on budget for grounds care?

     Nicky, I can’t stand the damn painter. Can’t you fire him and hire another?

     Nicky… 

     Nicky!

 

The majority of the time Nicky felt like a battering ram for the entire community. Still, something was up. Ray wouldn’t call her unless something was going on in the melting pot of humans. The question was, was she sober enough to drive? She fumbled back into the bedroom and stared at the crimson bold-faced digital clock. Three am? How long have I been asleep, like an hour?

Why no officer. I haven’t had a thing to drink. Just going to visit the community I manage in the middle of the freaking night!

You betcha that excuse would fly. All the way to jail.

Growling, Nicky fumbled to find the clothes she slid out of barely an hour before. The lovely single nightcap turned into a round of heavy dirty dancing with some guy name Raul. Who the hell named their kid Raul and lived to talk about it? She was going to curse her Ruby Dettrix in the morning. She could still see the buxom woman batting her emerald green eyes and slicing her rich auburn hair over her shoulders as she pursed her lips, daring Nicky to join her. Just one drink girlfriend. It’ll be fun.

Four drinks later and a handful of phones numbers and Nicky was hot, horny and alone.

Realizing time was of the essence, she threw on the same attire, a tight black leather skirt and scarlet polyester shirt that clung to every curve like a glove and shook her head. Boy, wasn’t she the picture of association management? Sadly, with three night meetings that week, she hadn’t managed to do laundry in a good ten days. Aarrgh! Huffing, Nicky brushed the golden strands back into a ponytail and rushed to put on a little make up, gazing at her reflection with disdain. “You look like hell in a hand basket.”

Giggling, Nicky imagined it was perfect for a murder scene. Jerking to a halt, she threw her hand over her mouth, frozen like a popsicle in Alaska. Murder? Was he serious? Not that she hadn’t thought about it before, given her profession, who wouldn’t? Still, murder in the community was unheard of. Had Ray said anything about calling the police? Shit, she could barely remember. She grabbed a bottle of water, her purse, keys and prayed to some God she’d make it from the West End to Chesterfield County in one piece.

****

 

Nicky pulled into the short drive leading to Leopard Pointe’s gated entrance and the flashing neon sign hit her squarely in the eyes. The red vibrant letters sparkled a little dance complete with a stripper glowing in fluorescent chartreuse. Damn it! How many times had she told Fred and Barney that they couldn’t keep the flashing glow ball of hell — as the Architectural Chair called the oversized glowing piece — going after midnight? The well lit sign was so large everyone who cruised down the road could see the colorful hues easily. So could the cops. Yep, her friendly boys in blue knew her by her first name. How very comical to see the lovely words of the Social Committee chair plastered on the six by eight foot sign.

 

Pool Party, Saturday, June 20th!

Bring your liquor and something else festive and naughty!

We may get naked!

 

“Fucking great,” she hissed under her breath. The hilarious words were just another in a series of incidents to make her phone start ringing first thing in the morning. Stepping on the gas, Nicky eased up to the red and white striped gate and stared into what appeared to be an empty guardhouse. Had Barney really gone to the scene or??  Uh-huh. Nicky knew better. The older man barely moved these days. Jerking her car to the side of the road, she put the gear into slid the gear into park and climbed out. Sounds of raucous music filtered through the trees. Grimacing, she sauntered into the guardhouse and shook her head.

Barney was dead asleep. No, the oversized man was plastered in his chair and the idiot couldn’t quite hide the tequila bottle well enough. Nicky picked the empty liter bottle up and sighed. No wonder the sign was lit. She knew exactly what happened. Bribery. The Social Chair, Sam Timmons, was up close and personal with a hefty bottle of tequila and any other liquor he could squirrel away to use for his cagey subterfuge. The man was a walking talking book of schemes to garner the community attention.

If that’s what divorce did for you, she was remaining a bachelorette forever. “Great Barney. Just great.” If her oldest guard wasn’t the father of the Treasurer, she’d have him fired. Grabbing the empty bottle, she headed back to the car and made her way into the heart of the community. The large clubhouse and recreation area, affectionately called The Zoo was the center of attention for the majority of the year. Social events, Board Meetings and other community events were help in the cape cod style mansion and adjoining pool.

As she turned the last corner, Nicky could not believe the wild pulsing crowd. Hampered by the hoards of people, the road was almost completely shut off by the huge number of partying homeowners. It was standing room only at four in the morning. She groaned and edged her car onto the side of the grass surrounding the BMP. Hoofing it was her only option. Nicky cursed the day God made high heels. She walked into the crowd of at least two hundred people who were screaming like they were at a rock concert and fought a strangled scream. “Jesus, these people are insane.”

The term Twilight Zone held new meaning this night. Eyeing the group of people, she searched for the scene of the crime as the crowd milled about, filled glasses in their hands. Unsure of where to go, chanting dragged her attention to the pool area.

“Dust to dust. Ashes to ashes. Into the netherworld the asshole dashes.”

What? Nicky scrunched her eyes and stood perfectly still for a minute as she craned her neck to listen and sure enough, fists raised in the air and the chanting continued, the tone giddy.

“Dust to dust. Ashes to ashes. Into the netherworld the asshole dashes.”

If the man was really dead then the behavior was nothing less than crass. Granted, Nicky knew from day one the overly pompous jerk was not liked at all! However, the chanting and partying was beyond extreme.

“Hey, barbeque time. Let’s see if the guy plumps when we cook ‘em!” The gruff man said, chuckling.

“Hey how about roasting him on a spit!” Her rowdy laughter filtered into the air.

“Hot diggidy dog! Weiny roast.” Another male voice yelled above the din of the crowd.

Okay, this was getting out of hand and as amusing as it was, it had to stop and now. Nicky pushed her way though the crowd, barely maneuvering past the wild dancing.

“Hey! Nicky’s here!” He grunted as he leaned into Nicky, puffing a series of hot breaths across the back of her neck. “Wanna play, ‘lil lady?”

Who the hell is this guy? Had he just swiped my ass? Nicky fought to keep what was left of her composure and pushed further into the throng of people.

“Look. She’s dressed for the party. Somebody give her a margarita!”

From somewhere in the crowd something was pushed in Nicky’s direction and suddenly she found her hand filled with a beautiful blue and red laced crystal margarita glass full of a frothy liquid. You have to be kidding me! Sighing, Nicky longed for a new career.

Hope you enjoyed!

Ciao   xxx

Dakotah

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