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Seeing that I haven’t had much to say, here’s a 500 word story for Tin House Blog’s Plotto Series:

“No. The door knob won’t turn. It was fine when I left for breakfast.”

“Yes, it’s locked.”

“No. I didn’t lock it.”

“Thank you.”

“Mr. Michaels, it’s Sylvie over at The Bohemian. You’re not going to believe this but—“

“Yes, actually. How’d you guess?”

“True. How soon can you be here?”


“Locked. Yes.”

“I’ll see you then.”

Mrs. Finley stared at the black glass knob with the nickel plate behind it. It wouldn’t budge. Her daughter, Emmie, was by the sliding door to the balcony, imagining the view behind the drawn blinds. She was eight now and she thought she should be trusted on the balcony. Whoever said “out of sight, out of mind” must never have been a child. Emmie thought the door knob was ugly. Plus there it was for no reason in the middle of the door. She didn’t like the way her mom kept touching it.

In The Bohemian’s elevator, Mr. Michaels recalled that year in architecture school when he sold his first designs. They ended up in the city’s boutique hotels and he was higher than any building for a time. All but a few no longer existed, but the ones that did still concerned him.

Mr. Michaels knocked twice.

“Hello, Tim.”

“Sarah? What—“

“Emmie, meet Mr. Michaels, an old friend from architecture school. He’s here to fix our little problem.”

Emmie looked at his striped suit and wondered what he had to do with door knobs.

“It’s his, sweetie. His design. Mr. Michaels knows more about this door knob than anyone.”

Emmie was picturing the man in the suit, only instead of his nose he had the door knob.

He said, “I didn’t know you still came into the city.”

“Yes, I’ve been back…every year or so.”

“And no trouble with the door…until today?”

Mrs. Finley was stroking Emmie’s hair. “I don’t usually stay in this room. You see, this time I’m here with Emmie.”

“Right,” he said. “First thing, Emmie, no one’s allowed to tamper with that door but me. Second thing: it doesn’t lock. It can’t.”

“But?” Emmie began and then broke away, straight for the black knob. “Look! It’s stuck. Won’t open.”

“All I said is that it couldn’t lock. But there’s this one quirk only two people know about, and it makes the knob get really stuck. So stuck, Emmie, that you can’t fix it. And this knob is the only one like it. And once you rip it out, you can’t ever use it again.”

Emmie suddenly liked the door knob and now she was angry at Mr. Michaels. “If you made it, why can’t you fix it?”

“Emmie! Just this once, go be careful out on the balcony.”

And though Emmie had been upset, this revelation made her forget as she skipped towards the sliding door.

Mr. Michaels looked at Mrs. Finley, his upturned hand asking, Why?

“It’s been so long. I just wondered if you’d found a way to fix it.”

© Kathryn Martins and kathrynmartins1, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kathryn Martins and kathrynmartins1 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.