ON, THE APARTMENT MANAGER assures me the bizarre screeching I hear in the shower each morning is because his brother-in-law got the shower head part on mail order from a backward province in China where the local economy is supported by the manufacture of shower head fixtures. The reason these shower parts are so cheap is due to the abundance of a native metallic compound mined in said region. Because the water pressure in our apartment is so strong, it causes a unique vibration which sounds distinctly eerie as it pushes the streams of water through the perforations in the shower head.
I gauge him wearily, because I have to. I could tell him I work in sales, and I know a line of pure, solid bullshit when I hear one. But this is a man I don’t want to overtly offend.
I gauge him wearily, because I have to. I could tell him I work in sales, and I know a line of pure, solid bullshit when I hear one.
“Have you heard the sound it makes?” I ask him.
“Yeah, sure. We noticed that back when we did the walkthrough inspection with the owner and contractors.” The contractors: that is, his brother-in-law again. I could mention my roommate replaced the original shower head our first week but this would simply complicate matters for Ron, who may feel compelled to develop an even more technically precise excuse.
“What about the thudding sound?” I query.
“Prolly a kangaroo rat.”
“That’s gonna be one huge rat. It would have to be a possum at the very least to make that racket.” Now I’ve got him. Is he going to admit that the building he co-manages with his wife, who barely speaks English, is haunted or admit that possums are infesting his brother-in-law’s property? Either way, I’d got a rock solid case for talking down the rent.
“Well yeah, kangaroo rats get to be pretty big. You should have seen the one I caught last week.”
“Oh yeah, they get real big y’know. I’ll get a trap set out, take care of that problem in no time.”
I suppose I could draw this out more painfully than it already has by telling him I grew up with kangaroo rats running over my forehead at night and even when food is plentiful in the summer, they’re really just big mice, at best.
Instead I just say, “OK, thanks man…appreciate it,” and walk back into the apartment.
Part of the reason I don’t play hardball with Ron is ‘cause both of us know to keep our mouths shut when we’ve got a good thing going. He won’t tell the building’s owner or the police about the pungent stench of Garberville Mountain Poison that radiates from our apartment’s third “bedroom”. Likewise, we don’t inform the building’s owner or Homeland Security about the dozen or so Indo-Chinese “relatives” rotating through their living room floor every month.
None of this solves the problem in the shower though. I don’t tell him how the shower steam beads up on the ceiling and looks, for no discernible reason, exactly like drops of blood. Eventually these beads drip off the ceiling back down to the tub and go back to just looking like water. But up on the ceiling…always, always dark red.
Once, after sex with one of my roommates’ ex-girlfriends who still dropped by on the sly, she freaked out and jumped out from under the covers of my otherwise cozy bed.
“Jesus, the martyrdom!”
“You’ve got entities…” she murmurs, more to herself, as if she just diagnosed me with a metaphysical STD.
Boobs flopping and all, she bolts from my room and I follow just as naked out to the foyer area and find her in the kitchen, which is just on the other side of the shower in the bathroom. She’s on her knees surrounded by the clutter of dishes, tools and Taco Bell wrappers littered all over the floor, moving her hands all over the parts of the wall she can reach.
“What did this place used to be?”
“I don’t know…some kind of drawing room that was part of the hotel?”
“There’s bad energy back here Pablo. Prisoners…slaves…”
Erin is a little off…no, that’s not right. She’s a lot off. She goes to AA meetings religiously after which she hooks down more questionable snow than a Yeti. She believes herself a grand chess champion. She also claims to be an ultra-sensitive psychic whose need to control social situations was always determined by a series of tarot and astrology readouts. None of these reasons, as I saw it, to turn down the very hot bumping of our uglies.
Dispatches from Atlantis #9 continues...