September 5, 2009
Bathroom carpet made of piss…
Missing bedroom wall…
Prop department heat…
Kim plucked a greasy guitar string and kicked at some bean cans on the floor:
“This place is out of my mind. I can hear it squealing. I dare you to live here.”
Ingrid sauntered back from the kitchen, with the landlady in tow:
“Let’s take it.”
She mouthed the fine print:
“No. Credit. Check.”
Mrs. Sacoransky came at me with a pen:
“We’ll fix the little problems before July 1st—don’t worry…”
She spread the blue and white form on a gravy-stained table.
“Just have to write in a few standard clauses,” she hummed. “So… let’s see… Ten-ants respon-sible for snow re-mo-val… Land-lord to pay wa-ter tax… No pets a(l)-lowed…”
We mentioned our cats.
“…but cats are per-mit-ted,” Sacoransky hummed on.
Kim poked her head into the street:
“Oho! Cretins! Tattoos!”
I signed my first lease.
In Québec, everyone moves on July 1st. Everyone, that is, except for the bean-guzzlers at 554 Henri-Duhamel. Those dudes didn’t own a calendar.
When I pulled up with my stuff, Ingrid stood flabbergasted at the top of the stairs. She pointed at the window:
“I’m afraid I saw scrawny naked movement in our home.”
I used my knuckles on the flaking red door.
A flaking red face answered it:
I shrugged the chair on my shoulder.
“Oh fuuuuuhhhhk,” the guy’s eyes spun. “Claude-man!” he bent his head against his spine. “Wake up man! Fuck! We gotta move!”
He invited us in.
“I’m really sorry, y’know?” he dumped the contents of a post-apocalyptic ashtray onto the floor. “I thought it was next week…”
“It’s not,” Ingrid said.
He pulled warped cigarettes from between the sofa cushions.
She ignored the gesture:
“Is ‘Claude’ the responsible one here? Or is that you?”
“Ummm,” the man gaped, “I’m Alain.”
We squeezed our shit in there—after the boys encouraged us to throw their furniture off the balcony.
“…least we could do, man,” Alain explained.
Claude nodded his guitar.
But the bathroom hadn’t changed…
My bedroom lacked a frame…
And the heater thing looked fake.
Ingrid picked up the phone.
Of course it didn’t work.
At the booth on the corner, she told Sacoransky:
“I thought you were going to take care of the little problems. Some of them actually got bigger… No… I guess none of that did get into in the lease… but… listen: we’re roommates… we need two closed rooms… you owe us a wall… right… good… don’t forget to pay the water tax…”
She stepped out onto the sidewalk:
“We’re gonna build it ourselves. Take the money off the rent.”
It sort of worked.
We ripped out that carpet, striking piss-porous plywood.
The cats thought the holes contained vermin. We had to ban them from the bathroom, after Simpson got lost in the depths for twelve hours. Nobody else went in there either—until they absolutely had to.
We also held off on the heat.
Facing reality is for people with options.
In the meantime, we had other faces to deal with.
Half of the actors in Montreal believed that we were running something called the Jocelyne Trudeau Talent Agency out of that crusthole. The headshots rolled in. God knows how Claude and Alain ever coped.
“Should we write a script?” Ingrid stirred a pot of radiatori.
“A lot of these folks could play subnormals,” Kim flipped through the portfolios one day. “I’ve got ideas in that direction.”
Nothing ever came of that, but the piles kept on growing.
“We’ll burn ‘em in a barrel, when this contraption craps out,” Ingrid flicked the heater’s ratty wick.
When she finally put a match to it—just before Hallowe’en—it went up in black smoke.
“Alright,” she crossed her arms, after making it stop, somehow. “Space heaters then?”
So I guess we did have options.
We purchased one each.
On special occasions, we put them both on the coffee table and aimed them at the couch.
In November, my friend Tony came over to watch Deliverance.
“What’s the next step below ‘ghetto’?” he wondered.
“Grotto,” Ingrid shrugged. “Are you okay?”
Tony had had a rough summer. Nearly paralyzed in a camping mishap, he’d been trapped in a temporary exoskeleton ever since:
“They call it a ‘halo vest’—it’s keeping my spinework on track.”
We started the film.
During Ned Beatty’s tragedy, Tony’s tinker toy top hat shook with empathy:
“That’s… so… wrong…”
Ingrid peeked in with a coffee:
“Aren’t we suffering enough in this cavern?”
Tony turned stiffly:
“Don’t worry,” he smiled. “Piggy gets ‘em back.”
I don’t want to spoil it for you, but he does.
“Good night guys,” she took her machine to bed.
We kept right on watching movies—High Sierra, White Heat, Swing Time…
“Wow! Dancing! Robbing! Blowing shit up!” Tony jumped off the couch, around 6:30 AM. “I’ve been on my ass for too long…”
He looked out the window:
“Hey! Gazette truck! Awesome!”
But we didn’t have money for that shit.
“What the fuck?” Tony shook his head. “You don’t get the Saturday paper?”
That’s what I just said.
“Well you’re getting it today.”
He put on his shoes and ran out.
I watched him skulk robotically up to the landing next door—bending at the waist to snatch the bundle.
On his way back up our stairs, a bloodcurdling horn gored the dawn.
“Hey! That’s not your paper, you deformed motherfucker! Where the fuck you goin’ with that paper?”
It was the deliveryman, seething at the wheel of his vehicle, one block from the scene of the crime.
Tony burst through the doorway as the Gazette van u-turned.
“I did it!” he spiked his package in the hallway.
Frigid breaths hit the ceiling.
Ominous brakes scorched the street.
“Come on out here, bitch! Man that was some flagrant shit! You expect me to disregard it? Think again! This ain’t no part time gig. This is my job. I’m serious about it. I deliver six hundred papers daily. One thousand on Saturday. And not one of ‘em is for you! So give it back, asshole, before I bust the human parts you got left!”
Tony cackled beneath the sill:
“He didn’t see what door I went into. Idiot’s just yelling at the building!”
Ingrid reappeared with her space heater. She plugged it in and sat down:
“You… stole a newspaper?”
Tony inched across the floor, with his antlers down:
“I guess it was a mistake… I just got excited… y’know?”
She flipped through the Entertainment section:
“He’d better leave before I have to go out.”
The Gazette man raved on:
“You mean to tell me you got enough cash to transform yourself into a motherfuckin’ cyborg, but you ain’t got a dollar for the English language, daily? I’ll throw down with you just for putting these thoughts in my head! I don’t care what super powers you got!”
Several engines hummed in unison.
Ingrid took a turn at the window:
“Egad! Four trucks?”
The press gang unleashed a hail of bitch- and motherfucker-tinged bullshit.
The first one told his comrades:
“I only saw him from a distance, but the guy’s wearing some kinda retard helmet. Conspicuousity’s gonna kill this cat.”
The telephone rang.
It was Kim:
“God damn—I miss all the good stuff! You need backup over there?”
“If she comes here,” Ingrid mused, “the situation will escalate.”
“What about the actors?” Kim giggled. “Should I round up the actors?”
I told her we’d call her back.
The paper people took turns honking like a flock of rabid geese.
A couple of the neighbors came out onto their balconies.
“Good morning ma’am,” the main guy yelled up. “We’re looking for an asshole with some metal in his ancestry. You know any fuckers of that type?”
She did not.
Tony fingered his bolts:
“Man am I glad this thing comes off next week… The whole Gazette nation will be gunning for it.”
Eventually, the rednecks returned to their routes.
Their ringwormed ringleader replaced the stolen paper and sped off, backfiring thick clouds of vitriol.
I put down my crossbow.