Kilter Street Profiles: Max

Max is 13 and lives with his parents, Mario and Michiko, and his sister, Mika, in Apartment 2d.

He’s quiet, thin, dark-haired, and often ducks his head, at least in front of people he doesn’t know well. He plays viola and has a lovely, rare smile.

When I see him around the Kilter Street Manor Apartments, he’s usually watching over his sister, or hanging out with a friend or two whose names I don’t know.

Kilter Street Profiles: Mario

Mario lives with his wife, Michiko, and his kids, Max and Mika, in Apartment 2d. He’s the building’s maintenance man, and doesn’t mind the recurring jokes about how he’s a guy named Mario and owns plumbing tools.

He’s cheerful, robust, easygoing, and even-tempered. He isn’t curious about much, but seems to just take things as they come and live with contentment. One of his chief enjoyments is social media. His Instagram site is an ongoing documentation of disasters in Kilter Street Manor Apartments: flaking ceilings, burst pipes, the elevator that only works well for one resident, John.

Both sides of his family came to the U.S. from Italy. Sometimes he likes to play up his Italian heritage by speaking with an exaggerated accent and singing pseudo-arias, because it makes his kids groan.

Kilter Street Profiles: Lewis

The main impression I get from Lewis is that he isn’t happy.

He’s a young man, maybe early 20s. Stringy, with a lean face and matted light brown hair. He’s pale and has some freckles under his eyes and on the bridge of his nose. He doesn’t smile much. When he does, his eyes stay hard. He’s angry, maybe, but about what? I don’t know yet.

He lives with his dad, Eben, and works in his dad’s ice cream store.

Kilter Street Profiles: Michiko

Michiko, who lives in Apartment 2d with her family, is a high school history teacher. She’s a slender, dark-haired woman who seems often preoccupied with her thoughts. She wears round glasses and carries herself with a slightly defensive hunch. Her voice is firm, her enunciation precise. She knows Latin and reads avidly.


Her maternal grandparents moved to the US from Japan, and her mother was born in the US. Her father was born in Japan and emigrated to the US as a young adult, where he met her mother. She has a few older brothers and is the only girl and the youngest in her birth family.

She’s married to Mario, the Kilter Street Apartments maintenance worker. They have two kids: Max and Mika. Michiko is sometimes bewildered by her marriage. She feels like she fell into it, without much planning, and that amazingly it’s mostly good. She sometimes thinks of her husband as a steady, warm furnace that doesn’t swelter or go cold. She sometimes can’t believe that this is her life. And that she’s a mother. Even though she isn’t always a demonstrative person, she loves her kids.

Kilter Street Profiles: Eben

Eben owns an ice cream shop. That’s what he’s known for around Kilter Street Manor Apartments.

He’s middle-aged. Two things stand out about him at a first glance: he’s broad-shouldered, and his hair is completely white.

He’s a veteran, and from a family that’s served in the military for generations. He can also trace his lineage to some of the earliest colonists who came from England to the US.

His son, Lewis, lives with him and works for him at the shop.

Kilter Street Profiles: Hubby

Elana Elisa’s husband is known around these parts as “Hubby.” I’ve never heard him referred to by a name. She calls him Hubby; other people usually call him “Elana’s husband” or “The Hubs.” When they speak to him face-to-face, I don’t know what they say. “Hey, you?” Never heard a name.

He doesn’t talk a lot or show up much in any of the building’s common areas. Not that he seems unfriendly. He has a gentle, polite air, a small but genuine smile. He’s middle-aged and balding. His bald spot is pink-white. It reminds me in a weird way of an atmospheric storm on a planet, like the Great Red Spot of Jupiter.

He likes to wear socks with sandals, and knee-length shorts and untucked button-down shirts. He has a brown and gray chevron mustache. I don’t know what he does for a living, or if he’s retired or unemployed.

Kilter Street Profiles: John

John, from Apartment 3c, can always get the elevator at Kilter Street Manor Apartments to work for him. It’s reluctant or uncooperative for everyone else, but not for him. Maybe because he has a sunny disposition. He’s always smiling, but somehow without seeming creepy.

He’s an event planner who specializes in themed parties. Zeb also regularly consults with him about the apartment building’s communal get-togethers; he’s good at stretching a limited budget.

Some people doubt that he can be a good event planner, because he is legally blind. But he does well.

As for his appearance: he’s got a medium build and medium height, pale skin and thick brown hair. Nothing about his looks is really remarkable, except for his smile. Which again, isn’t creepy, not exactly, though it does sometimes make people wonder what there is to smile about so much.