Saturday, November 7, 2009

Part 2 Housemate From Hell

Continuing on from my last post:

A week before the Ronald event, I set my alarm for six A.M., turned off my light and watched the ten o’clock news from bed. By the time the automatic timer clicked the T.V. off at ten-thirty, I was sound asleep.
Just after midnight, Deirdre pounded on my door.

“Sharm, Sharm...did you call me?” she hollered through the closed door. Her voice had that hysterical edge to it.

I turned over, fumbled for the bedside light.

“Sharm? Are you in there?” Deirdre demanded. Bang, bang. “I heard you call my name.”

I pulled myself to a sitting position. “I didn’t call you,” I hollered back at the bedroom door.

Deirdre opened the door and stuck her head into the room. “But, I heard someone call my name and you’re the only one here,” she insisted.

How do you prove to someone that you didn’t do something? Was it even worth trying?

“Deirdre, go back to bed. I didn’t call you. I was asleep until you woke me just now,” I tried to keep my voice steady.

Hands on hips, Deidre insisted, “But I know it was you.”

“GET OUT OF MY ROOM!” I yelled, shaking my fist, and yes, even baring my teeth.

“Well!” Deirdre said, her voice huffy. “You don’t have to be such a bitch.” She yanked my door shut with such force the walls rattled. A framed picture of Quoin Yin, goddess of compassion, fell with a crash, tossing shards of glass into the carpet like Pick-Up-Sticks.

A week later, at 3:30 A.M., Deirdre burst through my bedroom door and switched on the overhead light. The door slamming into the telephone stand and 100 watts flooding the room yanked me from a deep sleep.

“Get the fuck out of bed and come clean up your mess!” she screamed, red faced, eyes bulging.

I sat bolt upright, shook my head, blinked a few times and said, “What on earth are you talking about?”

“Oh, yeah, like you don’t know. Get up, asshole!” she demanded. She shook her clenched fists and took a menacing step through the doorway. “You flooded the toilet with your feces and waste just to mess with me. I know what you’re trying to do.”

It was like a scene out of Mommie Dearest, and it took everything in my power to remain rational. I had a choice here. I could watch her psychotic break from the vantage of my bed and hope she didn’t hurl herself at me, or I could drag myself into the bathroom and unclog the toilet which was, indeed, overflowing with toilet paper and excrement. Deirdre stormed back into her own room, slammed the door, all the while muttering about conspiracies.

“Did you call the police?” Beth asked the next morning.

“And tell them what? My housemate plugged up the toilet and blamed me? Yeah, right. I’m sure that would be high priority, right up there with armed robbery and rape,” I grumbled.

I waited for the next step. Blevins promised me a process server would contact Deirdre in a few days to inform her she was being evicted. I worked later and later at the bank to avoid having any contact with Deirdre. It didn’t work.

“Well, you’re finally home,” Deirdre sniped at me as I opened the back door that led into the kitchen.

“I just wanted to tell you I’ve taken the mail box off the porch and asked the carrier to slip all the mail through the slot in the front door,” she whined.

“Why on earth would you do something like that?” I said, appalled. I’d hung the expensive, handcrafted, artsy mailbox that color-coordinated with the freshly painted porch just before I began showing the place. Curb appeal, Beth had called it.

Even worse, the front door was part of Deirdra’s rental. I had no access to the room that was now receiving my mail, which made me completely dependent on the good will of Deirdre.

“That’s, that’s--unacceptable,” I searched feebly for the right word for this latest insanity.

“Well,” Deirdre simpered, “I know you’ve been stealing my mail, so I’m just taking control of the situation. I’ll bring your mail into the kitchen in the evening,” she said with a little pout.

Deirdre’s mail consisted of movie magazines, coupon offers, and a handful of bills, which went upaid.

“It’s mail fraud, or something, isn’t it?” Beth asked during our nightly phone conversation.

“I don’t think so--not unless she withholds my mail,” I said. “She’s crafty. She walks just on the inside of the line. I don’t know how much longer I can last,” I said as tears welled up.

“Five days max, right? She’ll be gone,” Beth said, trying to reassure me.

“I suppose,” I said sighing deeply.

On the afternoon of the fifth day, I sat at my office desk staring at the computer. Words swam incomprehensibly on the screen. I placed a call to Blevin’s office.

“That woman--she’s still here. Why is she still here?” I pleaded.

“Can’t serve someone who’s not there, can ya?” Blevins replied. For this I am paying a dollar a minute.
“What do you mean she’s not there? She’s home every day, all day, sleeping.” My grip on rationality began to slip. I paced my cubicle.

“Process server says no car in the driveway, no answer at the door. Can’t get blood from a turnip, girlie,” he summed. “If she comes home…”

“I’m telling you she IS home; she’s just not answering the damned door.” I could feel my face burn with fury.

“As I was saying,” Blevins continued slowly, deliberately, as if addressing a slow child, “if you know she’s home, call the process server at this number right away. They’ll know what to do.”

I hung up after jotting down the cell phone number and sat glaring at the receiver as if it had somehow betrayed me.

“Jen, can you cover for me? I’ve got to run home for a moment,” I called over my shoulder to my secretary.

“Somethin’ to do with your crazy housemate, honey?” Jen asked. I don’t like mixing my work life with my personal life, so had kept the details minimal when Jen asked about the dark circles under my eyes.

“Yeah, sort of,” I said, grabbing my jacket.

“Hoo-eee,” Jen shook her head, “you can’t get rid of one and I can’t find one. Life’s unfair, that’s what I’m tellin’ you,” I heard her rant as I headed out the side door.

Traffic was light, and in five minutes, I pulled up against the curb in front of my brown-shingled bungalow on Foxwood. The driveway was empty of the usual powder blue Escort that marked Deirdre’s territory. Deirdre had taken over the driveway when she moved in, just as she’d taken over the front porch, the back deck, and the mail box. The driveway had been a concession due to her claim of a hip injury that made walking distances difficult. The resulting hostage taking of the deck and porch, were of the give an inch, take a mile variety.

“Well, I’ll be damned,” I muttered. “I know she’s in there.”

I shifted into first gear and drove to the corner. Impulsively, I turned left, deciding to circle the block. Left at the next corner, and there it was, in the middle of the next block, nestled between a mini-van and a Dodge pick-up.

“Ah ha!” I yelled. An older man in a tattered green coat walking a beagle raised an eyebrow as he hurried on past. I gripped the steering wheel to steady my shaking hands. I felt a rush of heat move from my belly, up my neck, and flood over my face. I clenched my teeth to stop them from rattling. My whole body vibrated with rage.

I screeched into the driveway and slammed through the back entrance of the house. I charged over to the phone that set on the night table and punched in the number Blevins had given me.

You’ve reached John ace process server. Leave me a message and I’ll call you right back, the recording went through the usual litany. I didn’t know if he meant John, ace process server, or John Ace, process server. And did it matter? He wasn’t there. I left my number, a two-word message, “Call me,” and hung up.

“Great, now I can’t leave.” Again, I felt that sense of being a captive in my own home. I reached for the phone to call Jen to let her know I’d been detained. What if John tries to call while I’m on the phone?

I sat, imprisoned in my chair staring at the phone. “Right back, right back,” I chanted, as if saying it would make it so.

Half an hour later, the phone’s sharp ring jarred me out of a doze of boredom. John would be right over. “All right, let’s get this show on the road.” I smiled as I hung up the phone, filled with hope, knowing the end was in sight.

The front door slammed at just that moment. I bolted for the window in time to see Deirdre bustling down the sidewalk in the direction of her car.

“How could she have possibly known?” I whined to John on his cell phone.

“I know; it’s uncanny, isn’t it?” he sympathized. “Listen, just call me, day or night, when she returns.” He hung up.

She didn’t return that night, or the next. Instead of the good night’s sleep I hoped for, I was hypervigilent, waiting for any sound that would suggest Deirdre had snuck back into the house.

Walking down the driveway Monday morning, I cast a glance at the front door to see if there was any sign of life in the front half of the house. The large window to the left of the door caught my eye. The curtains were gone.

“What the....” I turned and took the front porch steps two at a time. With my nose smashed against the window glass I stared in disbelief at the empty room.

I tried the doorknob that turned easily in my hand. As if moving through a fog, I stepped into the vacant room. The bedroom was also empty. In the middle of the floor there was a tattered piece of paper with a scribbled message:

I find you too abusive to live with any longer without risking my health. I don’t know why you’re so mean. I know rent was due last Friday, but I need that money to find a better place to live. You can return my deposit to my post office box. Deirdre.

“When hell freezes over,” I shouted.

“The nerve of her, leaving me like that,” I said to Beth from my office phone.

“Hey, didn’t you say you wanted her out at any cost?” Beth said. “You didn’t blink an eye at the retainer Blevins charged you...”

“Yeah, yeah,” I cut her off.

“She’s gone. That’s what’s important. She’s not in your life anymore. You’ll never have to cross paths with her again. Let it go,” Beth admonished.

“Thanks for the reality check,” I said. “Talk to you later.”

I sat staring at my desk calendar, pondering how fate had dealt me an unexpected hand. Beth was right, it was worth any amount of money lost in bills or rent to be rid of her. I felt my shoulders relax for the first time in months as I stretched my neck and rolled my head around in a slow circle.

“Gone, really gone,” I said, smiling.

“Say what?” Jen called from the door. “You talkin’ to yourself again?”

“Jen, you’re not going to believe this...”

“Hey, my news first,” Jen interrupted. “This is God in action, I swear,” she said, raising her hand in the air.

“You’ll never guess what happened. I just rented my spare room! After a month and a half, I was so desperate, I’d have rented it to the Devil,” she grinned. “Poor woman said she was leaving an abusive landlord situation.” Jen made a tsking sound and shook her head. “What’s this world coming to?”

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