A Short Story of Thankful Eviction
I’m slowly walking home, and I’m nervous. In a neighborhood of verdant trees, colorful flowers and moderately-priced homes, I round the corner and mutter a soft prayer, “Please God, don’t let her be there.” One block away though, I see it: the cobalt blue Ford Taurus of my nightmares. Janet is here, and with her an Iranian immigrant named Cyrus who has come to see the house. He might rent my room. Janet has put him to work.
I don’t like Janet. In fact, my dislike borders on hatred. Through a simple loophole, the landlady who calls herself the “absentee roommate” shows up unannounced at all hours. She walks into my bedroom when I think I’m alone. She leaves the front door open and lets my cat get out. She stinks up the bathroom then yells at me for not arranging the couch pillows correctly, all while the stench of her excrement wafts into the living room and up my nostrils.
Cyrus looks at me strangely. I don’t like him either. He is guilty by association and I’m in a bad mood. Janet is barking orders, taking full advantage of a man who is clearly trying to make a good first impression. Cyrus is dressed in neatly-pressed slacks and a button down shirt that looks expensive. Janet has him changing dirty screen windows.
The landlady gave me a 30-day eviction notice the week before. She called me a liar and a con artist. There were fresh grass clippings on the floor from Sage, my roommates’ dog. Somehow it was my fault. When she saw the trash can underneath the sink nearly full, she almost started to cry. It would be nice, I think, while I’m berated like a child, to be a lesser man, to wield power and possess no moral code. Perhaps Janet could wake up tomorrow morning in the trunk of a car, kicking and screaming in vain as my henchmen dump her off in the middle of the Mojave desert. I’m jolted back by a voice like the squeal of an engine with a loose alternator belt: "You have to leave," she says, to which I retort, “You can’t kick me out, I was leaving anyway.”
Weeks later I’m taping up boxes and meticulously cleaning when I hear a knock on the front door. It’s Cyrus. He wants to know what I think about Janet. On the neatly trimmed front lawn, we talk for over an hour. We share an orange. Cyrus has a degree in Psychology, and he thinks Janet might be nuts. I let loose, and tell Cyrus every pertinent story I can recall. The time I left a dish in the sink. The time I left a book on the table. The time I set the thermostat for 66 instead of 65. And how much I loathe living in this museum she calls a home. We shake hands and exchange numbers. Cyrus declines the room. Not a bad day.
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