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HOW I GOT EVEN

by Tyrone Power
printed in American Magazine, February 1941

It doesn’t pay to be suspicious of people or go around with a chip on your shoulder, swearing vengeance. I leaned that early from the gray little man who owned the apartment house where I lived in my learn years as a Hollywood extra.

He used to sit all day in the lobby, nodding and smiling to his tenants. He was my friend and gave me sound advice.

I cannot recall the precise moment I began to dislike him, but it must have been toward the end of the first full month I couldn’t pay the rent. I thought he became grim and distant.

I stopped going through the lobby and used the janitor’s entrance. I could not force myself to pass him.

I did not come to hate him, though, until the midnight I crept up the back stairs and found my apartment key useless. The lock had been changed. Standing there in the dim hall, realizing everything I owned was in that locked room, I swore a mighty oath of vengeance.

Nor did I forget in the years that followed when, with borrowed money, I managed to reach New York and find a place on the stage. I was still remembering when I returned to Hollywood with a motion-picture contract and a substantial bank account. I wanted to humiliate that man, as he had humiliated me.

So I bought his apartment house.

Don’t ask me why. In my mind, I think, was the idea of stalking into that place and ordering him off the premises. Probably most of us at one time or another have grandiose ideas like this for getting even with people we imagine have wronged us, but few have such an opportunity. It seems silly and childish to me now, but I went there to gloat.

The gray little man sat in his accustomed place in the lobby. I started to pass him.

“Tyrone!”

I stopped. He was coming toward me, both hands outstretched. He took my arms. “Where on earth have you been, son? What have you been doing?”

I said coldly, “You should worry. You locked me out.”

He drew back as though I had struck him. “Locked you out? That’s ridiculous, son! I never locked anybody out.”

I had to believe him. I said uncertainly, “My key wouldn’t work.”

He thought about that. “Why,” he said at last, “that must have been the time we changed all the locks in the house. Your key was here for you. You only had to ask for me.”

“How was I to know that?”

He smiled tolerantly. “Can’t you read, son? The notice was posted weeks beforehand, right here in the lobby.”

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