Stupid Girls

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

The Rent

I knew I couldn't afford the house on my own. But it had sat vacant for the six or so months I passed it every week for church. Nobody wanted it.

Now, I've lived in "The Projects" of Los Angeles County. Drive bys, police choppers with flood lights, car chases and undercover operations: noise, confusion and misery are everyday life and most people actually accommodate their lives around it. I had.

So, this sleepy, stupid, sloppy so-called "War Zone" didn't really impress me. To quote Jack Pallance to Billy Crystal, "I crap bigger'n that." This place was quiet: not so much as a pistol shot, most of the time; no nightly machine gun fire.

I called the rental agent and made an appointment to see the house.

Dark and gloomy inside, its living room had the personality of an auto mechanic's shop waiting room. It was paneled in plastic, woodgrain veneer pretending to be black walnut. The concrete slab floor was carpeted in a nappy, nondescript zigzag. It had a fireplace with recessed book shelves on either side. Aha! It had a large picture window, easy for burglars, facing east at the covered porch. Shade is at a premium in Albuquerque, so, despite the gloom, this arrangement was an advantage.

The bedrooms were equally nondescript. The "master" bedroom, however, was huge. It was obviously an added on afterthought. One, narrow window squinted out at the back wall f the apartment building next door. But one whole wall had floor to ceiling bookshelves. Aha!

But the kitchen! Again, it was ugly as a homeless shelter. But it was a gigantic space, big as two or three apartment sized kitchens.

And the back door lead out to a garage big enough for four cars. Aha!

Another door from the garage lead to a trash-blown, weed infested, dusty, bleak back yard as big as the kitchen and garage combined. Aha!

I explained to the agent that I would be running the house as a boarding house, renting rooms, cooking meals for tenants. I would want to put in a garden. The agent said he would convey my information on to the owner.

A week later, he called and asked me to meet him back at the house to exchange money, keys and signed leases.

I got on the phone. I had 7 days or so to come up with the rent and deposit. I was several hundred dollars short. I got commitments from friends who mailed me all but $25 of the total.

The day of the appointment was now only three days away. How would I get the other $25 so quickly?