Friday, November 8, 2013
Genre: Dark comedy
My father once told me it’s a give and take world we live in. It just tends to take a hell of a lot more than it ever gives. He shared these words of wisdom with me from his deathbed. When that monitor flat lined, so did my existence.
That was when my endless streak of bad luck commenced. Which is the only form of luck I ever had any experience with. Actual, genuine luck has avoided my like some baneful plague my entire life.
Most guys don’t get fired for starting a contained fire at the company Christmas party. Then again, most guys don’t come home early to find their fiancé in bed with a Filipino dwarf named Rubin.
I’ve heard the best revenge is living well. Whoever said that can frankly go to hell. If you call being crammed into a windowless studio apartment living well, then I guess I’m doing pretty good for myself. My apartment is so small there’s not even enough room to pace back and forth. I have to go outside just to get away from myself for a couple of minutes.
My next-door neighbor thinks her apartment was converted into a night club and so she blasts techno music nonstop. The girl who lives above me is a fitness buff and uses her apartment instead of a gym to do her exercise. Sometimes it sounds like her and her treadmill is going to crash through the floor and squash me like a bug.
Javed, my landlord, is always busting my hump about the rent. I make it my mission to avoid him like you would avoid an itchy crotched girl in a bar or club. He can’t call me because my cell phone got turned off months ago. Apparently that can happen if you don’t pay your bill.
Some days I think about leaving it all behind, packing up and starting fresh somewhere new. Then I remember I have less than five hundred dollars in my bank account and starting fresh isn’t an option.
Javed, my landlord shows up five. I have no chance of escaping without windows so it looks like he’s got me cornered. I open the door after letting him knock for five minutes straight and he looks pissed off. I make up a lie about being in the shower even though my hair is dry as a bone. “No more excuses,” he yells with his thick accent that always makes me crack a smirk. “You pay rent now, motherfucker.”
I dust off my checkbook and write him a postdated check for the rent. It’s dated three years from now. He pockets the check without noticing the date and scolds me some more with his strange, possibly Middle Eastern accent. “You nothing but bum. You can’t pay rent, can’t work. What good you for?”
I wait until Javed is gone before I laugh it up good at our brief encounter. Then I realize I don’t have much to laugh about. Eventually he’s going to discover that check is worthless and he’s probably going to evict me.
Oh well, things can’t get much worse. If I wind up moving, I won’t have much to move. Most of my things were destroyed in storage when the place caught fire. All I have is a bed, a small wardrobe, and an old television that even the most desperate robber wouldn’t dare steal. I don’t even have a car anymore.
I got nailed for DWI two weeks after the incident at the company Christmas party. My office refused to press charges against me, but the incident combined with the DWI forced the judge to suspend my license. The judge also made attending AA meetings on a weekly basis a mandatory requirement. I wish they had given me ten thousand hours of community service instead. The people you meet at those kinds of meetings are the reasons judges exist in the first place.
I check the mini fridge; find that it’s empty again. I have another meeting in two hours and I don’t feel like going grocery shopping. I don’t even know if I have the money to spare.
My friends used to call me Lucky Lenny. I don’t know if they were being ironic, but if they saw me now, they’d probably cry. Or laugh. Lenny’s luck ran out like his fiancé and it’s not coming back.
* * *
There’s an old joke my father used to tell me. “Doctor gives a guy six months to live. He can’t pay his bills, so the doctor gives him another six months.” In my father’s case, the doctor gave him two years at best.
My old man refused treatment at first, until the cancer spread through his lungs and restricted his breathing. For fear of it spreading to the rest of his body, he signed on for chemo and radiation.
He went through a range of side effects caused by the treatments. His hair gradually fell out. He lost a considerable amount of weight. His appetite diminished. Some days he was sluggish and dead to the world. Other days he was energetic and still full of zest.
We spent the last six months crossing off every line on his bucket list. Visit the champagne room of a strip club. Free the animals from a local zoo. Go streaking. Build a fort. Take a ride in a hot air balloon. Go to a bar just to start a fight. Yes, these were all things on his bucket list.
Though, we did get arrested for our stunt at the zoo. Thankfully the zookeeper and the owners refused to press charges since nobody was hurt and no real damage was done to the property. I can’t say the same for the guy who had monkey shit smeared all over his windshield.
Eventually the chemo and radiation took its toll and dad was reduced to a virtual zombie. He didn’t eat. Some days, he rarely even spoke. The day he finally let go, a wave of relief washed over me. I took solace in the fact he wasn’t suffering anymore.
* * *
My AA meeting starts at seven o’clock. Everyone helps themselves to a cup of coffee and munches on stale doughnuts brought by Frank, the alcoholic who ran over his neighbor when he crashed through his fence and blew a 0.10 on the breathalyzer.
Among this group of degenerates and lowlifes, I spot a new face. Since it’s her first time around, she gets up and introduces herself as Anna. Like me, she is here by order of the court.
I like her because she reminds me of my ex-fiancé, though Anna doesn’t seem like the type who would cheat. Then again I’ve proven to be wrong about that sort of thing in the past. She has fair skin and shoulder-length red hair. There’s something about red hair that drives me wild.
I approach her after the meeting with an attempt at confidence. I look at this opportunity as a last ditch effort at turning my luck around. I ask if she wants to go out for coffee.
“I honestly hate coffee,” she admits. “I just drink it here because that’s all they serve. It tastes like liquid chalk to me.”
“I hate coffee too,” I say, relieved that I won’t have to down more of that crap. “You know, you’re not the only one the courts made come here.”
“Oh yeah?” she smirks. “What’d you do?”
I hesitate for a second before I confess, “I started a fire at my office.”
“Awesome,” she laughs and pats me on the back. “I stole my boss’s car. Guy was a total perv. He always used to hit on me and say the most inappropriate things.”
“If I’m not being too straightforward, how’d you like to go out to dinner with me sometime?”
“I could go for a drink instead,” she smiles and takes my hand.
Gripping her hand loosely, I smile back and think that maybe starting fresh is an option after all.