Let's call today: 'Monday, 1 June 2009'
wrote in the notebook:
Insert Disc, Close Door.
[pre viewing notices]
It's funny isn't it?
You hear all those stories of housemate horror and you never think it'll happen to you.
Thankfully my own experience lasted little more than 24hours, but some don't have it so lucky.
I'm grateful to have come through the ordeal with no more than a story to tell.
And what a story it is.
The woman had put a notice up at work that she urgently needed a furnished room, on or near the southern train line, and that she was willing to pay $150 inclusive.
I asked Dave - who at the time was researching his finances to determine whether he could rent a room or not - what he thought. He said let's contact her and see what I think. I said if she's in our dept, I won't consider it, but if not, we'll see.
In the following contact with her, I established that she was in another department and that she needed a room by the next week (she needed to be out of where we was currently staying by the 21st). We arranged a time for her to view the room and she seemed to be thrilled with it. It was large and I had furnished it with a desk, bed, wardrobe, lamp and drawers. She checked out the rest of my house and enthusiastically said "I'll take it!" She placed $300 on the counter, said she'll move in on the 20th. She then wrote out a receipt which I signed, confirming she was paid thru the 27th.
The week went by and Dave discovered he couldn't afford moving into mine right now. No big deal, I thought, I have a boarder now.
The 20th came along and she rolled up with her sister in tow and moved her things in. She then went out to get some groceries.
About an hour later I get a call saying she'll treat me to lunch, and I get change out of my 'jays and meet her at the tavern. We have a few drinks and get to know each other.
She apologised if she'd been a bit full-on earlier. She said she knew she was a bit intense sometimes and she was sorry if she offended me or anything like that. She also said her sister had told her to stop putting that shield up. Being a user of such personal defenses when meeting new people I told her not to worry about it.
In the chatting I found her increasingly short in the attention span; she'd ask me a question and then in the middle of my answer, ask me another. As the glasses of wine were knocked back, I noticed her memory wasn't great either. I had to repeat Lauren's name several times, or the fact that I had driven so we didn't need to get a taxi back.
All in all, a few eyebrow raises, but nothing too heavy y'know? It was a lighthearted jovial afternoon. She said we was very happy to have met me, and hugged me alot. You know me, I seldom refuse a hug. She told me how mature I was and we lamented not understanding the teenagers at work that go home if they have a slight headache. Each of us seemed to rack up points with the other - I was impressed by her travelling tales (she'd been to many many countries) - and she was deeply appreciative of my creativity (although by the time we got around to me playing the guitar for her, I'm not sure how many glasses of wine had been consumed but her singalong attempt consisted mostly of 'blaaaaaaargh argh aaaah naaarngh!' incredibly loud). She also said how much she didn't want to go back to work tomorrow, that she hated it there, and I found she felt the same loathing of the soulless customers we can experience that I had too when I had first started working there. I told her I understood how we watch them throwing away their money there, and that it is depressing, but you learn to detach from it. She told me the job wasn't her and she hated it (no blame there) and that it will do for the 6months she was here to save up some money and keep travelling.
We had some nibbles (more on that later), some drinks and left the Tavern. She asked me where other pubs were and I said I'd show her the closest ones. On arriving at my car, she loudly and repeatedly stated that i needed to clean up the rubbish inside (it was here I assumed she must be a neat-freak), and that she was starving.
I showed her around the immediate area: Beach road, where the Op Shops are, Pt Noarlunga etc. As we passed Pt Noar Hotel she announced surprised that she thought we were going in to have a look at it. I good-naturedly took the next driveway and we ended up inside where I had a water, and she had another wine. After those drinks, we were off again.
We swung into KFC on her request where she announced the menu board was too confusing and to order her something big for ten bucks. I sated her with a 2 piece feed and relayed her money to the window. Chicken-in-hand we drove home. For not the first time that afternoon, an alarm-bell distantly tinkled and the shadow of a thought tried to enter my brain. And for not the first time also I pushed them aside.
Leaving her shopping bags in the back seat of my car - devoid of any groceries, I noticed later that night, but containing her mobile phone and a Nippy's bottle with the label removed and filled with white wine - and her KFC Pepsi can on the passenger seat, we went inside where she saw my guitar was out. She gave an impression of her sister trying to play guitar and I laughed along with her, distracted more by my determined attempts of coaxing my baby from her drunkening hands... Is drunkening a word? It is now.
She asked if I could play (I always find this question frustrating when someone asks a person owning an instrument or two if they can play it - one thing if its locked in the wardrobe somewhere, or on the wall, another if its out and being used). I strummed a few songs and she sang along in the aforementioned manner, punctuated by chicken and much enthusiastically-tipsy-compliment-overkill. After I'd finished Jason Mraz's I'm Yours she told me I needed to get my own music happening, and again smothered me with how awesome I was. I joked for the hundredth time that if she keeps inflating my ego like that we'll get along great, before launching into Paper Lantern on the easiest and prettiest of my songs, and always first to mind.
Again I was showered with praise which by this time, even a narcissist like me was getting tired of. She jumped up and said if she played me a song from a CD would I be able to play it?
I said perhaps if it were simple I could try to find the right chords or find a version of it, but if not I'd have to look it up. She ran to her room and started rummaging. I called after her that I'm not very good at playing by ear, perhaps if she told me what it was and who sung it?
She dismissed me with a "No-no-no you can do it, I'll play it" and continued to rummage. I heard her say, "Here, look in that. That bag there," and realised she a) thought i was in the room with her, and b) wanted me to search for this CD. When I entered her room, I saw that she was bent over her pile of bags looking and muttering to herself (and I guess to me also). I saw that he hadn't pulled her jeans up when she had stood up and now they were almost down, so that her pink lace underwear adorned ass was sticking out the top of her pants as she searched. I finally let the nagging thought 'what have i gotten myself into?' creep fully into my head. The alarm bell increased a fragment of a decibel in volume. I half-heartedly opened the bag she pointed at, another greenbag used for shopping, and showed her its few contents, none of which resembling a CD case.
I stood up and walked out saying 'you'll find it once you unpack, shall we watch something?'. She came back into the loungeroom and found her chicken again. By this time I was feeling tired, a little like the familiar feeling of trying to be patient with a friend who's had too much to drink while you're still sober.
I tried to pull her attention to my dvds. She left her chicken on the rug - not the box of chicken, the chicken - and looked at my shelf.
"Wow! have you been to Bali or something??"
"No, they're all legal DVDs."
"You should, they're like 20c each over there."
When we'd come home she'd pulled a bottle of wine from her backpack and poured herself a mug (the large one - note that my glasses aren't moved in yet). Now she sat down on the opposite side of the room she'd started in and asked 'where's my drink gone?'
"It's over here, where you were sitting last."
She resumed her chicken and I settled with resuming the disc Sweeney Todd I'd started earlier that day. We spoke about what musicals and plays we liked and had seen, and we listed them and talked about them, and here the short-term memory blew a fuse again when she conversationally asked if I'd 'ever seen a broadway musical before? it's brilliant'.
I sat at one end of the 3 seater couch and gradually she ended up laying along the rest of it. Occasionally patting my knee or announcing how good it was to have a day off and relax. I pointed to the new cushions and told her they were comfy.
"I'm not putting my head on that," she said, before promptly pulling up a cushion under her head and getting comfortable.
About the time Sweeney was challenging Pirelli to a face-off with the razors, I heard the first murmurs of snoring. These quickly grew into incredible wheezey full-lung snores as the setting sun flooded thru my leadlight window and bathed the livingroom gold and orange.
Eventually I got cold and managed to remove my leg from under her cusioned head to get up and get my jacket. On a second thought I unfolded my throw rug over her to keep her warm while she napped. I also picked up the mug of wine from the floor and put it on the kitchen counter so that it wasn't knocked by anyone.
At length she snapped awake and babbled incoherently. I caught "Don't make me go back there" and when I said I'd put the rug over her she threw a hand to her face and said painfully "ooooh don't tell me that, I have big bags under my eyes," and drifted off again.
I didn't really think much of this. Sleeping beside Lauren for a couple of years I've heard almost everything weird a person can say on waking, still caught in their dream.
After a while the end credits of Sweeney were rolling and she sat up.
She asked the location of her drink again and I told her it was on the counter. "But this is a *description of mug* cup..."
"Yes that's the one you were using."
*sounds of tinkering in the kitchen refreshing the mug of wine*
I was getting ready to leave and I asked her if she wanted me to leave the TV on so she could watch something. She said no.
She was sitting on the couch now. I was standing by the door.
The silence in the few seconds that followed felt to me like when you've taken someone home that you just met in a bar, enjoyed a uninhibited drunken night of wild sex, and now you've both woken up the next morning and don't know what to say.
I said "Well if you want to read instead, I've plenty of books. The best-seller type of famous well known titles are on the top shelf," and made for the door.
"Ok thanks, see you."
And i went out, without a backward glance, leaving her sitting tangled in my rug on the couch. Pulling out of the driveway about an hour earlier than I needed to I reflected that only a couple of hours into having someone else here, I'm already feeling ill-at-ease to stay in my own house.
[jump to a scene]
Lauren and I come home.
As we're getting out the car, my awesome nextdoor neighbour comes over and asks if I have anyone over because they saw her walking around the outside of the house with a torch. I later find out that this even included shining the torch into the trees. I say yes I have a new housemate, and thank her again for her vigil. She's been keeping an eye on the place for me after it's sat empty for so many months. As she leaves she mentions that she called out to the woman several times, but she didn't respond.
I shrug and say perhaps she didn't know you were talking to her. I'll mention that you're both great and to say hello next time.
We say goodbye and go inside.
Her light is on. I call "honey I'm home" and Lauren and I giggle.
No response from her room.
I take the bag that was left in my car - it's presence only coming to light when we heard a ringtone that was neither of ours sounding from the backseat - and walk to her door. I can hear snoring so I just place the bag outside the door.
I don't like that she's left the light on whilst sleeping but figured since it's her first night in a strange place alone, it can be overlooked.
Entering the kitchen I heard a humming. I traced it to the oven where I found the fan on, not the rangehood, but the actual oven fan. Thankfully the heat was off, but the internal fan dial had been missed.
[jump to a scene]
In the bright and early of the morning Lauren and I were woken up by heavy footsteps through the house. I made a half-awake mental note that perhaps I need a runner rug for my small hallway to deaden the sound of the floorboards outside my bedroom door.
When I emerged to use the toilet, she was bringing bags of shopping in and her sister was opening my windows and blinds. They mentioned something about having been shopping and that they're opening the windows: facts I could see quite plainly thanks.
Her sister - with considerably nicer vibes - wished me good morning. I returned the greeting to both and mentioned that Lauren was still asleep and could they please keep the volume down.
On my return path I asked didn't she have work today?
She replied she'd called in.
I tumbled myself back into bed.
Eventually we both emerged again to have breakfast and I saw my pantry was packed full. There was no immediate sense to the order, her groceries invaded the shelves my meager provisions had already claimed.
Lauren and her met in the kitchen, where she again asked Lauren's name, and said something about making some sort of food-something-or-other. I don't know that part too well, I was still asleep. Don't talk to me about anything important when I've just woken up. I think she wanted us to combine our food and take turns cooking or something? Who knows?
I later learnt that Lauren felt unexplained heat in the kitchen, and found an element on the stove burning, with nothing on it. She turned it off. The woman gave no explaination.
Armed with my breakfast, Lauren and I fired up the playstation to continue an earlier begun game of Narnia. I took Peter and Lauren took Edmund for this level and she sat down and watched us, saying that she wouldn't know what to do, get him, go there, so which one are you, what's that, which one are you, which?
A few levels later Lauren and I decide where to go for lunch. Shortly after this she re-enters the room and says "How about I make lunch for us all?"
To this day I wonder if she meant those 3 steaks (one of the many invaders of my fridge) and I remember I never actually told her that Lauren doesn't eat red meat, and that I only occasionally do.
I said no thankyou, we were just about to go out.
She sounded a little deflated and said okay and disappeared again.
Between 2 and 3pm, Lauren and I left the house.
[jump to a big-motherf***er-scene]
Around 9pm, Lauren and I pull into the driveway. We can see from the road that the livingroom is brightly lit - not any of my ambient-like floorlamps make the room look like that, and we don't have the main ceiling lights connection fixed yet. I say to Lauren 'is that a ceiling light?' She's not sure either. We both gather up bags of moving-house-type-things and some more shopping and begin bringing stuff in.
The gate is open. I walk to the door and see that the light is coming from a desklamp previously kept in the furnished room. The same lamp that was on all the night before. It's plugged in, perched atop the stepladder and pointed at the ceiling, throwing white light on everything. Both front windows are fully open, as are the blinds.
I grip the front door handle and it turns, unlocked.
I call out her name.
I walk to the doorway of her darkened room and peer in to see if she's asleep. I can't tell after walking from such bright light into near darkness if what I can see is just her quilt or not. I call her name again. And again, no answer. I walk in and gently touch the foot of the bed. It's just the quilt. No longer fearing I'm waking someone, I repeat her name louder. Nothing.
I say aloud to Lauren, "What the hell's going on?" She's just as dumbfounded. I ask her to keep bringing things in while I keep looking for the woman. I remember my neighbour saying she'd been outside lastnight, and I go out to the front and call once more, louder still this time.
Turning back to the door I notice the large mug on the front porch, half empty (or is it half full?). I pick it up, and say to Lauren "Hmm I wonder what will be in here?" as I sniff it.
"Wine? What a surprise!" I throw it on the garden and return the mug to the kitchen.
Now I begin going through all the rooms, half certain that I will find her passed out in a corner somewhere. I shine my phone into her room again, checking all the corners, and even, in the crazy thoroughness you only have when you've lost something, opened the door of her wardrobe. Not there (insert shock here).
The spare room soon to be an office has nothing but a desk and a few boxes.
The toilet, bathroom, bath and shower, even the walk-in pantry.
I then think to rule out the possiblity that if she's passed out, perhaps she's passed out outside and hurt herself? Wouldn't it be awful if she were found in the morning and we discovered she was just outside the backdoor or at the bottom of the backsteps the whole time and we just hadn't thought to look cos we only checked inside?
Phone-light at the ready I scanned the perimeter of the house.
Relieved but no less puzzled, I find nothing.
Coming inside from the backyard I see my throw rug in the laundry sink. I pick it up and smell it over. More wine.
The back of my head says: Oh well, least she likes white wine. A red wine stain is never fun.
The more focussed part of my mind says: *expletive*
I walk into the the middle of the living room and again announce to the silence "What the fuck is going on???"
I don't understand why everything is open, lit up, and on display, and there is nobody here.
My concern is turning into frustration now. I would understand the house being unsecured if she were here, in whatever form. But for everything to be open, and on. And at least 4 pieces of equipment clearly visible to anyone who chose to stop outside in the shadows of the front trees and peer over the fence. No way, that's not cool.
My TV, DVD player, VCR (less valuable I know but if I were a thief, I'd probably grab that too), Playstation and Guitar Hero controller, and my laptop were all neatedly store-fronted to the world.
I start pacing, and Lauren and I begin to close up the house. I call my mum, a landlady herself, and ask what she can make of it and what does she reckon I should do.
She basically says what I'm thinking: play it by ear and see what happens when she gets home. Lauren says it's not good enough, and that when she gets home, I should yell at her and throw her out. I reply that if she comes home right now before I've calmed down, a yelling is exactly what she'll get.
Some ten to twenty minutes later, I hear the gate. I have locked the doors back up and say to Lauren now "I'm not getting up to let her in if she struggles with the lock" (I've already heard her doing so considerably often) but when she finally gives up and knocks, I sigh and open the door.
"Hello," I manage to tame myself right down. "Where have you been?"
"Oh," she mutters. "Out." This was said with the same elusion a teenager may muster when asked the same question upon returning hours after curfew.
"Ok... do you mind telling me why everything was left open?"
A blank stare of genuine mind-ticking-over puzzlement follows.
"The windows, blinds and doors were wide open and unlocked..."
The blankness fades slightly: "Oh my sister must have..."
"The lamp was out here and shining on everything in full view of the street..."
"You can't do that okay? Can you make sure next time you go out for an hour or however long you were out that everything is at least closed, and locked?"
She nods slightly and looks down awkwardly as she shuffles past me to her room, still dark from the absence of lamp being plugged in.
I return to the video game we'd started to take my mind off things.
Before long she wanders in asking for a torch.
I say, without looking from the screen, that I don't have anything like that cos I just use my phone to see in the dark.
She shuffles back into her room. At some point she must have gotten the lamp plugged in and turned on.
After a time she crosses in front of us and sits in the arm chair beside the couch we're on.
"So why don't you two live together if you're so close?"
Lauren and I chuckle at this familiar question. My seasoned response follows: "That's probably why we're so close. We used to, this suits us better."
She falls silent for a moment. All of this conversation so far takes place while we are still playing the Playstation.
"I got your little handy hints, thankyou for that."
"Yeah I'd been meaning to print those off for you since yesterday..."
Another moments silence.
"Well I don't like that you went through my stuff and moved everything around."
Pause the game. Turn.
"Uh...Right, I didn't."
"Yes you did."
"...We've been home like 15minutes, most of that has been wondering where you were and why the fuck the house was unlocked. The only time I went in there was to put the lamp back in there and put that (nod to the house rules in her hand) on your desk. That's it."
"Well you're not getting rid of me that easy, it's not going to work."
"...the fuck?" Shake head and return to game.
"I think I'll just stay the rest of the weeks I've paid up to and then go, cos, yeah, I don't really want to live with you..."
"Fine by me cos after tonight I don't really want you here if this is how you act."
Unacknowledging the last comment, she continues thoughtfully: "Yeah, I don't want to stay here, cos... *nervous whine* you're... yeah, you're scary."
Mix of nervous and defiant nod.
"Right then, well I'm not keeping you here." Resume game.
She gets up, "No, I'm not going anywhere." She passes the screen again, "Don't go through my stuff." She leaves.
"Hey! I didn't touch your shit alright?!?"
The door closes and we're alone in the living room again.
"What the fuck??"
After some deliberation I decide to get her rent from the ATM and give her her marching orders. Lauren doesn't want to be left alone with her while I'm out and I don't want to leave her alone to do whatever in the house if I take Lauren with me.
I call the girls -and Matt- to come sit with Lauren while I duck out. When they get here I give them a quick debrief and head off. On the way back, I stop into the local police station to see what my options are.
The constable is very nice and says he'll send a patrol over to talk to me.
When I return I almost kick in her door. Not literally, but noisily. She barely stirs from her stupor, evidently she'd fallen asleep in her clothes in her bed with the light on again. I count out her rent to her and tell her to get the fuck out of my house. She refuses and tells me to call the cops. I inform her they're on their way anyway.
At some point when she staggers past us all on the way to the toilet, she half-asks why so many people are here. I simply reply, "why, it's a party!" She then ignores us again and continues. She sits silently at the end armchair, closest to the door, and watches whatever TV we're watching for a while.
The poilice arrive and I go out to talk to them.
Unfortunately, long conversation short, they tell me that they can't kick someone out, that she's paid rent in a verbal contract therefore she's legally entitled to stay and that I should have had someone in witnessing me returning the rent to her.
They say all this not unkindly, and sympathise with me while advising me of how to do things next time to protect myself.
I thank them for their time and come inside.
Meanwhile, as they're leaving through my gate, the wench comes to life and asks if that was the police.
I say (in a half-duhhhhh voice) "Yes, it was. Did you want to get up and speak to them?"
She springs out of the chair and I call the police officers back, who return quickly, asking who is it.
She formally states her full name... and I can't help but think its not without some practise. It crawls into the back of my head that this may not be her first rodeo.
A little while later she trots back inside and into her room.
I throw open her door again and ask that if she's staying for two weeks as planned, then I'll have that 2 weeks of rent back thanks.
She replies from her quilt "Abso-fucking-lutely not!"
I threaten her emptily with theft and she shrugs telling me to call the cops back if I care to, and rolls over.
"You say I'm crazy? You're fucking insane!" Slam door behind me.
[jump to a scene]
She has work at 10am, so Lauren and I stay up as late as we can after the girls and Matt go home. When we eventually concede defeat, we retreat to my bedroom and to satisfy ourselves that some crazy lady doesn't sneak into my room and wreak havoc before we hear her and wake up, I lean my guitar against the door as a kind of alarm.
Throughout the night and wee hours of the morning, she re-emerges and we lay listening to her shuffle around the house and out the front.
From what we hear and speculate, it sounds as though she's dragging stuff outside - I half expect to find her gone in the morning.
I use my spare time to work out the exact dates from my paperwork she'd paid to and am relieved to find the contract is only to the following Thurs, not another 2 weeks. Thankfully niether of us had signed for the 2 weeks worth of money that had recently just gone back and forth. Meaning, there was no record of it.
During the night I make a trip to the toilet, and find the front door open with the screen door propped open by the welcome mat. I move the mat and let the screen door close to keep mosquitoes out (I think briefly about just locking the doors, but want to stay remotely the good guy on paper).
Nothing from the night outside. I decide she's taken another walk and left my house and her light on, otherwise is lurking in the darkness staying quiet. In any case, I return to my room and re-guitar up my door. Around 5am I fall asleep.
[jump to a scene]
Around midday, I wake up. The house is silent. I glance around the corner to her room. The door is ajar and everything is still there.
I write out a notice of eviction for the date she's officially paid to, a few days on. I am about to place it on her door when I hear the gate open.
Even though I know her shift started at 10am, I know deep down that it's her.
I hear keys and the familiar struggle with the unlocked screen door that she never did get the hang of. I open the wooden door reminding her it doesn't latch and come face to face with a security guard from work.
Puzzling isn't it.
I cheerfully say hello, burying my confusion with the relief that someone else is here to diffuse anything, and not only that, but someone trained to know how to do so, and for a second I wonder how she got involved.
Are they friends? Has wenchface even been to work? Has she dragged work into this and this poor security chick has to deal with this shit now?
Kathy, the nice security officer, cheerfully greets me back and says they're here to get wenchface's stuff.
I say sure thing, hold open the door, and, trying not to skip, go back into my room to tell Lauren the progression.
We sit on the bed for a while listening to everything be moved. I can her hear telling Kathy how I went through her stuff, and Kathy politely replying to this and that. I overhear something about where she'll stay and I derive that they've organised a hostel or something.
Lauren and I sit, puzzled and intrigued - and Lauren waiting impatiently for them to leave so she can go to the toilet - listening to the comings and goings. Kathy asks her several times if she's left the keys and she says, in her vague way, that yes they're on the... thing... inside.
Something falls and breaks - a cup perhaps? - and I can't help but chuckle.
Kathy is so good, she fetches my broom and dustpan and cleans it up.
I must have emerged at some point because I remember telling her she didn't have to, and her apologising for being noisy, indicating my night shift sign.
I say no sweat. I don't want to be too "how'd you get dragged into this" because I'm not yet certain that they're not mates and it's Kathy's day off.
We don't wear uniforms off the grounds, so I can't tell if her appearance is official.
Anyway, boring part of the story cut short, Kathy and the wench take the last load and go out to Kathy's car.
We can hear them finishing the loading as we scour the room to make sure everything is as it should be.
It is, except... no keys.
It takes Lauren some time to convince me to go after them and ask where the keys are. I just want it to be over and to see the last of her.
I go out just as they're closing up the car and Kathy repeats the question to her.
She grows befuddled - for fear of me, no doubt - and rummages for the keys on her key ring. I try to help her identify the three and she huffs defensively "yes I know!"
If you knew, you wouldn't be staring at them all like a deer in headlights, and I don't want you having even one key to access this place ever again. But I guess it's no wonder that you don't know which is which, I imagine keys are a foreign concept to you... since you don't seem to use them.
I get my keys back and fall into a heap inside as the car pulls away.
Lauren holds me.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah.... I'm so not working tonight."
I discovered she left a box of cereal in my pantry, crockery, and a case of makeup. And along with her things in the fridge, she took a new tub of my butter, but that's all.
I returned the crockery and the makeup to work for her to collect, and messaged her to let her know and that this was the last contact and she is no longer welcome on my property nor has any reason to return here.
She texted me only once to let me know about the makeup case - and apparently some shampoo and conditioner left behind, but I never found those last items. Shame too, I would have just kept them had I found them.
I kept the cereal as payment for my new butter. The empty wine bottle I used as an ornamental vase for LED fairy lights on reeds. It's now the light in my toilet - I find it fitting since I found more than one half-empty mug of wine in there.
Who drinks wine on the toilet?
I never smelt smoke on her nor saw her smoking but I did find traces of some kind of 'tabacco' (optimistic description) on the bedside table. Perhaps thats what the walks outside were about.
It'd definately explain the paranoia in any case.
oooooppppp\\\\\\\\\\\\\\i8/'9; [these extra thoughts were added by my kitty checking out my laptop aka walking over the keyboard]
| Post A Comment... >