Saturday, November 10, 2012
shame on me (not really)
It happened ten years ago. We'd just moved into the house where we're now living. The upstairs was still a separate apartment, though we'd already decided to ask the upstairs tenant to leave. She was a woman in her 20s who lived in Sherbrooke, about an hour's drive from Montreal. She lived with her boyfriend, but kept this apartment because every few weeks she would come to Montreal for a night out, pick up a guy and bring him here to have a romp. Her orgasms were multi-dimensional Wagnerian.
For most the time, since she wasn't living here, she let a friend stay in the apartment. He was a raggedy fellow who ostensibly sold jewellery on the street--and more frequently drugs from his doorway. His name was Charlie. Actually, it was Sharlie, which is Arabic, but people called him Charlie. Charlie blasted loud, garage-style music and wore boots when he was home. He sometimes disappeared for a few days at a time and left his cats hungry and locked in a room. We could hear them mewling.
I didn't like having Charlie upstairs. I could hear his least footstep. I couldn't write when he played music. Since the tenant, who had the lease, wasn't living there full-time, she expected Charlie to pay the rent, which he didn't want to. Rents are--or used to be--cheaper in Montreal than elsewhere. At that time, a two-bedroom apartment in this down-at-heel neighbourhood could be rented for $500-$600/month. The tenant had a lease with the previous owner for $250/month, with the understanding that she would strip the window frames, doors, door frames, skirting boards. She had begun by stripping the floors and that was it.
A couple of years along, she was still paying $250/month. Or rather, she expected Charlie to pay. We had to fight for the rent each month. Try to waylay him coming and going. Charlie pouted. He said he'd thought we were cool and weren't going to harass him about that. I was totally pissed that we were new home owners living with more inconvenience and noise than we'd ever experienced in an apartment. I wanted him gone. We negotiated with the original tenant--ie paid her $500--to leave. That's a long story which I won't tell here. How long it took to get Charlie out of the house, how he finally moved, but left furniture, how he still had the key so he could get his furniture, which he didn't, how he abandoned his cats, left drug-cache holes the size of basketball hoops in the wall...
What I want to write about--to confess--is the day when I heard rain falling inside in the house. I thought it was the tap in the kitchen dripping. It wasn't. I went to check in the bathroom. Ditto. But as I left the bathroom I got wet. Drops were dribbling from the top of the door frame. Water was seeping through the ceiling. WTF.
I grabbed the phone and called R at work. He reminded me that he was at work. I should go bang on the door, which Charlie never answered, and ask what was up. He pointed out that, as owners of the house, we had a key.
Water kept dripping. I imagined the ceiling crumbling. I got the key and thumped on the outside door. No answer. Of course, no answer. I unlocked the door and climbed the stairs. There was another door at the top of the stairs. I banged on that too. I called CHARLIE! Still no answer.
At this point, I was no longer my normal even-tempered self. I had images of plastering bills and plumbing bills and who knew what else enraging my blood. WTF. WTF. WTF. WTF. I bellowed, CHARLIE a few more times and threw open the door. The bathroom door was open and I could hear the shower drumming like water was a resource Charlie was determined to exhaust in his lifetime. I called again. Still no answer. From his side of the story, he probably didn't expect anyone to be standing just outside the bathroom doorway screaming his name.
Not getting an answer, the water still pumping and no doubt still leaking through the ceiling downstairs, I strode in. There was no shower curtain!!! He was having an all-out shower spree with the water spraying in every direction. He was also--of course--naked. (Nice body too.) At that instant he was shampooing his hair, shampoo all over his face, and didn't realize he had an audience. Until I yelled. You're taking a shower without a curtain, you fucking moron! Except I screeched it in French. Es-tu crisse de tabarnak fou, prendre un douche sans rideau! (Forget grammar, gender and verb tense when I'm angry.) He dropped into a contorted huddle in the tub, trying to hide, swipe shampoo off his face, see who was screaming, turn off the water and obey.
I stomped back downstairs. Called R at work to tell him that I'd found Charlie taking a shower without a curtain! R said, What? You went into his apartment, into the bathroom while he was showering? Are you crazy?
Oh, yeah, right. I shouldn't have done that. Wherever you are, Charlie, sorry.