The Paradise Tower

1.1| Welcome to the Paradise Tower


The road grew barren with every mile Wesley drove away from the city. Of course, there would be the occasionally delivery truck and car to pass by his own, but overall, the road was practically his. He found himself enjoying the room, his foot easing on and off the pedal as he played around with the speed, his left arm lazily hanging out the window as the hot air brushed up against it.

The California skies were beautifully clear, enough so that he forgave the blaring heat. He wasn't used to such conditions. Back in the city, the air was filled with thick smog. Out here though? He could breathe.

And breathe he did.

While he knew it was best to keep his eyes on the road before him, he couldn't help himself from peaking over to the left hand side, watching as brown cows and their calves wondered about the hillsides. While it was clear he was driving alongside a rancho, he knew not which one. He must have had missed the welcome sign earlier up on the road. It didn't matter, though; he still thought it beautiful, even without a name to give it.

It had been many years since he came out this way, still a young boy. His father believed in taking small visits to the countryside to get away from the city. Now as an adult, he himself was taking these trips to get away. He wasn't surprised that the cows still infatuated him as they did when he was younger.

When the wheels began to slip onto the on-coming lane, he snapped his attention back to the road. His heart quickened in his chest and he cursed quietly under his breath. Both hands were firmly on the wheel and he kept his stare glued in front of him.

Good thing there wasn't any on-coming traffic, he thought after relaxing just a tab bit in his seat. The point of this is to remove myself from stress, not create more.

Thirty-seven minutes passed by and his phone began to buzz, breaking up the silence in his car. He dared not glance over to the passenger seat, knowing what happened the last time he looked away. Instead, he pulled over his car, making sure to turn on the blinkers. Just to be safe…

When his car was safely parked off to the side, he retrieved his phone, sliding his thumb across the bottom half of the screen. The black cellular device lite up with a message box, informing him that Claire had sent him a text. His body tensed up, almost as if he was uncomfortable to see what she had to say. Just read it. There could be an emergency.

Swallowing first, he pressed down on the open tab and watched as the screen danced around to retrieve the message.

I'm sorry about the fight this morning. Please call me when you get there. I love you. –Claire.

Guilt flooded him at once. He had never meant to leave the way he did: angry, frustrated, and mute. I didn't even kiss her goodbye. The urge to call her then was overpowering, and as he searched through his contacts for her name, he paused. Don't…not now. I should wait. And so, he tossed his phone back into the passenger's seat and reached out his hand to flip the key. The engine purred and the cool air from the air conditioner filled the car instantly.

Before pulling back out onto the road, he took a moment to get a long hard look at those cows. A calf was nipping desperately at an utter and he couldn't help himself from laughing. The mother looked rather unamused by its offspring's attempts. I should take Claire out here when she comes down to visit.

The rest of his drive was easy going, not so much farm land, but more mountain and hillside. The air had grown even hotter, so he had rolled his window up to soak in the air conditioning. By the time he arrived to his destination, he was surrounded by bright green plant life instead of the yellowing grass of the countryside.

The town, or as he would call it, village, was quite small, with only a few shops spaced out here and there. A few of the smaller roads that broke off the main one contained residential homes—all equally stunning in their own ways—and some of the others lead off to what seemed to be public buildings, such as schools, post offices, and what seemed to be a hospital stationed somewhere off to the side of a lovely park. It was a cozy little village, with everything walking distance from his destination.

And where he had to go was nowhere lacking.

Before him, at the very end of that road, was The Paradise Tower, a singular monster of a tower standing tall amongst all others. He had to pull his car over once again to gape at its beauty. While he thought highly of it from the online pictures provided to him by his real estate agent, nothing could compare to seeing it in person. Built with modern day designs, The Paradise Tower was encased with glistering glass and bright white metal. The courtyard before it was alive with exotic looking plants and trees, and if he squinted hard enough, he could spot out a few vines crawling up the side of the building.

His stare slowly climbed up the tower, taking in its entire height. It appears to go on forever! When he glanced back down towards the parking area, he was surprised to hear something tap up against his car window. Turning his attention to the right, he was greeted by a gap-toothed grin of what was a rather old man with a sea of wrinkles carved into his flesh.

The window was rolled down a mere inch, enough for him to hear whatever the man had to say. Years living in the city taught him not to willingly bring his window completely down. "Yes?" he had asked.

The man ignored him, eyes darting back and forth as he glanced about the car's interior.

Once again, he asked, "Yes?" This time, however, he was a bit more firm.

The man glanced up at him, smiled weakly upon realizing he had not heard him the first time around, and said, "Sir, are you planning on staying here?"

"Excuse me?"

The man pointed down at the curb. "Sorry to tell you, but you can't park here. This area is reserved for emergencies only, and you'll get quite the ticket if you continue to block it off as you are now." He placed a hand gently on the roof of the car and smirked. "Is this a Lamborghini?"

"Ah, yes," Wesley answered, smiling slightly. He always felt embarrassed—and a bit nervous—whenever somebody asked about his car. "Yes, it's one of the newer models. And about parking here: I'm sorry for that. I promise not to do it again. Couldn't help but stop and look at that tower."

The man shifted his attention forward to get a look at the tower. "It's a beauty, isn't it? Built not all that long ago, but it seems to be what brings this village together, if you ask me. A lot more tourists showing up after it came up."

Nodding, he added, "I've heard inside is much more amazing. I suppose I'll find out today."

Lifting a furry brow, the man asked, "You moving there? What am I saying? Of course you are; you look the type."

"The type?" He couldn't help but laugh at that. "I didn't realize there is a category that I fall into." Pausing, he glanced down at the side of the road and realized he was still blocking the road. "I'm sorry, I still seem to be in violation of this…road rule of yours, or the villages. I should get going."

The man nodded and took a step back, eyes slowly lifting upwards as the car window was rolled back up. He gave a slight wave of the hand and turned to leave, heading for what seemed to be a shop dedicated to selling souvenirs for tourists. I should check it out one day.

Once again on the road, he continued all the way to the end, slowing down to a complete stop when he approached a gate. Golden it was, spanning left and right and enclosing the entire area that was the sole property to the tower. Inside a little booth was yet another man; however, this one was much younger than the first, and had a livelier expression to his face.

Rolling down his window, Wesley awaited for the man to say something, yet, nothing was said. Glancing around first, he shifted over in his seat so he could lean out of the window a bit. "Hello?" he asked, unsure of what to do.

The man pursed his lips after a moment and lowered his brow. "Your card?" he asked, his voice hinting a tone of annoyance. "You got a card?"

"Um…no, not exactly." Wesley turned his attention to the passenger's seat, eyes searching the leather for that important piece of paper. When he failed to find it, he turned back to the man inside the booth and asked, "A moment, please."

Unbuckling his seatbelt, he pushed himself out from his chair and abducted his hand so he could reach under the seating. Feeling around blind for a few seconds, he smiled when his fingers came upon the rough texture of paper. "Here it is!" he exclaimed, sitting up once more in his seat and handing over the document. "This here is a letter from one of the owners, allowing me access…" He trailed off when the guard nodded and left to go fiddle around with something in the back corner of the booth.

Leaning against his seat, Wesley watched as the man pulled out a phone, dialing quickly and then pressing it to his ear. His mouth opened and started making verbal movements moments later, but he couldn't hear what was being said. After about a minute of that, the guard ended the call and returned back to the window. "You're clear to go in. Also, when you get your card, remember to just flash it to me whenever you want to enter. No need for chit-chat."

He nodded and said, "got cha'." A loud buzz belted out from a horn above the gate and barely a second later, the golden fence opened up. This is it. Wesley gently pressed his foot on the pedal and his Lamborghini rolled forward.

A blast of icy cold air struck his face when he entered through the electronic-sliding doors. It was much colder inside the building than his car's conditioner could ever get, and there was a faint smell of cinnamon fragrance lingering around. Or it could have been vanilla for all he knew. Claire would know.

With his messenger bag—a rather expensive European leather coated bag given to him by his publishing agent upon the release of his first novel, one that Claire would insist was a man-purse—in hand, Wesley approached what seemed to be the front desk. Setting it down to the floor, he waited for the clerk boy to look his day.

When the clerk did manage to take notice of Wesley, he made a sour expression. "I'm so sorry, how long have you've been waiting there?" He approached the opposing side of the desk to face Wesley. "I hope it wasn't long."

"It wasn't," Wesley answered with a shake of his head. "I just got here in face, no need to apologize."

The clerk's expression softened. "Thank you." He paused a moment and quickly clasped his hands together. "You must be here for something? Let me be of some assistance, yes?"

His hand rested on the counter as he leaned his body forward. "Actually, yes, I purchased a condo here a few weeks ago, and well, I'm here to move in."

The clerk boy busted out in a rather happy looking grin. "That's so wonderful to hear! Let me extended the gratitude of the owners—Lynn and Charles Page—for choosing The Paradise Tower as your choice of living. As a member of the staff, I can promise you that you'll never want to move."

Wesley smiled at that. I wonder how long it took him to memorize that little greeting. "Thank you," he said nonetheless. "So…where do I start?"

"Ah, yes…" The clerk lifted a finger to imply a moment of thought. "I believe you should be in the system if you've already purchased the condo." He quickly slipped over to a computer off the right and his fingers began to type something. After a moment, he asked, "Name?"

"Wesley. Wesley Martin."

Humming, the man typed the name in and smiled. "Yes, you're all in the system! Before I forget, do you have a form of identification? Such as a driver's license. Polices, and all, I'm sure you understand."

Wesley reached around for his back pocket, fishing out his wallet. He handed over his driver's license. "This should do it."

After giving the card a good look-through, the clerk smiled once more and handed it back. "Thank you, Mr. Martin." A contract and pen was placed gently on the table and pushed over to Wesley. "Just sign this, and you're all set."

Wesley glanced up from the paperwork and lifted a brow. "This is…?"

"The contract," the clerk answered, still smiling. "I believe you were sent a copy of it via e-mail, yes?"

He remembered then. There was indeed an e-mail sent to him two weeks prior, but he never took the time to look it over thoroughly. "Ah, yes, I remember now." He took the pen and pressed the tip on the bottom line. "Anything in here that I should be wary of?" he jokingly asked.

Not catching the tone of voice, the clerk frowned slightly. "Did you wish to take a moment to look it over, Mr. Martin?" He sounded slightly nervous.

"No, no, it's quite alright. I glanced over it when I got the e-mail and didn't notice anything distasteful." And with that said, he quickly signed his name. Placing the pen down upon the paper, he lifted his stare up and pushed the contract back. "Is that it?"

"Yes…yes, that's it." The contract was taken behind the counter and submerged in the bottom portion of the desk. A key appeared as its replacement. "This is yours, Mr. Martin."

Oddly, it was quite heavy when placed in his hands, and just like with the fence outside, it was golden. It can't be made out of gold…no way. Maybe golden plated? Tucking it into his pocket, he smiled and said, "Thanks. Mind showing me where my room's at?"

The man placed his hand against his chest, as if he was taken aback. "Of course, that is one of my many jobs, you know? And please forgive me for not offering to do so first."

"It's alright," Wesley said, feeling uneasy by the man's apologetic tone. "And your name? I can't call you clerk now, can I?"

"Jose," he answered. "Jose Beck. Now, please, Mr. Martin, follow me this way." Jose quickly scurried around the counter and took Wesley's bag, much to his protest. "It is quite alright, sir. I can carry this while you just take in the beauty that is The Paradise Tower."

How many times has he said the name of the tower? Three…four times? Wesley shrugged and allowed Jose to take his bag. He was lead northward, towards what seemed to be an elevator room.

"This is one of two small hallways dedicated to elevators," Jose explained as he approached a small strip of wall between two of the elevators. He slowly pressed the up arrow and turned around to face Wesley. "There are exactly one-hundred-and-one floors here at The Paradise Tower."

Wesley stopped him by raising his palm up. "You don't need to keep telling me the name."

Jose blinked and his mouth hung slightly ajar. "I'm…sorry, Mr. Martin. I never meant to anger you."

"No," he quickly responded, "I'm not angry. I just assumed it must be tiring to keep repeating the name as you do." One of the elevators slid silently open and he followed Jose in.

"It is of no trouble to me," Jose explained as he pressed a button labeled 87. He side-eyed him for a second before leaning in slightly to whisper, "Plus, it is policy I call the tower by its proper name. My employer has already caught me messing up once, and I do not need another strike."

"Oh…" Wesley let it die at that.

When the elevator reached level 45, Jose smiled and said, "As I was saying earlier, Mr. Martin, there are many floors within The Paradise Tower. You can find entertainment and social areas upon the first ten floors."

"Social areas?"

"Yes. We take pride in giving the upmost enjoyable leisure to our tenants. I suggest you take the time to check them out once you've settled in." Jose glanced up at the ceiling, a mirror image of them reflecting down upon his eyes. "I also suggest you make friends here. It can get quite lonely."

Wesley found himself shocked. That doesn't sound so pro-paradise, now does it? "I will be sure to do as such, thank you." A moment of silence passed and the elevator passed the sixtieth level.

"If you don't mind me asking, will be there be any more luggage rather than this?" Jose slightly jingled the bag.

"Yes, but I can handle it. I'm sure you have more important things to tend to than carrying around my baggage." His hands clasped together on top of his abdomen, thumbs twiddling around. "Besides, I would feel quite silly if I couldn't even carry in my own items."

Jose laughed quietly to that. "Many here enjoy having somebody to carrying their things. Maybe you'll keep to the way you are now, but I wouldn't be surprised if you became engulfed in the service offered here at the…" he paused and slowly licked his lips before adding, "tower."

Wesley smiled but did not comment on Jose's choice of words. At least it's better than saying the whole thing. "May I ask you a question, Jose?"

"Of course," Jose quickly answered. "Anything, sir."

The elevator beeped out and the doors opened on floor 87, revealing a beautiful arrangement of plush plume carpet and soft white walls. Soft lights illuminated inside and Jose began to lead the way down the hallway. "This way, please," he said. Wesley followed suit, taking in what appeared to be original paintings.

Returning his attention from a painting of a woman basking naked upon a beach, Wesley said, "I was told by my real estate agent that there was a rather lovely garden on the property here, but I've failed to see such a thing."

"Oh, yes, Paradise Falls…" Jose cocked his head back and gave a small smile. "I hope you don't mind that name either."

Wesley felt his cheeks grow hot. Ah, I hope he doesn't have the impression that I dislike that name.

Jose continued on. "To answer your question: yes, there is indeed a garden, one that may suit your needs if you wish to slip away for some quiet time. If you go back down to the first level, there is a hallway that leads out to the back, where you'll come across the pool. If you continue onward, you shall find the garden." He stopped suddenly and pointed to a door. "And this is your room."

Wesley took out his key and eyed the doorknob. "Thank you for showing me the way." When Jose took a step back, he approached the door and slipped the key in. There was no effort in getting it to fit, and with one quick turn, the door's locks undid themselves. With one push, the door opened and Wesley took in the wonders that were his new condo.

"You share this floor with three other tenants, Mr. Martin," Jose said as he followed Wesley in. "Perhaps greeting them when you get the chance would be best. One of them goes by the name of Zachary. I'm more than certain he would help you out if you ever get confused or lost around here."

Wesley nodded but could care less about whatever Jose was rambling on about. All he could focus on was the condo, and what a condo it was! The white walls were covered with paintings and stunning photography. The carpet appeared to be Persian, with an exotic design pattern. At the end of the small hallway, he could see what had to be the main living room, already filled with matching furniture. From thereon, he would have to come in more to his new condo if he wanted to see more.

Jose placed the bag down in a corner next to the front door. "I'll leave you to your new home." The door was shut and Wesley was completely alone.

*I'm going to cap my chapters off at 2.5k-4k words and continue onto the next chapter (as part two, part three, etc.), for the sake of RGs. I want critics of my writing wherever I can get it, and I think I would get less helpful crits if I just threw the entire chapter out at once instead of breaking it up into a few chapters/parts.

*This is also a new style of writing for me. I typically keep it pretty simple with my writing, but I really wanted to challenge myself by adding in detail. Bear with me as I ease into this new style and sorry if it comes off as awkward and weird.

Questions (Please, you don't need to answer these if you don't want to. This is more for me to understand how the story if coming across to you and if I'm going in the correct route.)

1. I tried to give off the impression that The Paradise Tower was secluded from the city life, located within a small tourist village. Did you get that impression?

2. I tried to give off the impression that basically rich people live within The Paradise Tower. Did you get that impression?

3. I'm playing around with the whole "italics equals the character's thoughts," type of thing. I've never done something like this, but I really wanted to try it out. Is it bothersome?

4. Do you like the name "The Paradise Tower?" I wanted to have a tower, but struggled with a name…and I thought "paradise" would give it that rich/fabulous vibe.

Complete Summary: Welcome to The Paradise Tower, the perfect place to fit any person's needs! Many different tenants, all with unique personalities. One desires to write the next great novel and he has come to the tower to escape the stress that stops him from doing so. Another flees there for some alone time away from her husband. A psychologist has his own dark addictions; a woman living off her father's money dabbles in the art of witchcraft; and a pair of mobsters discuss the meaning of life and the pleasures it contains. What does the future have in store for those dwelling within The Paradise Tower?