Memoires of an apartment manager
The transvestite and the clown.
Imagine a two bedroom two bath apartment, converted into a one bedroom one bath and a bachelor. The obvious reason for the split was of course, to collect more rent. The closet of the bachelor served as a kitchenette, furnished with a small refrigerator and a hot plate on top of it. It had an aging AC unit, just like the rest of the apartments. Oh, no ! You got me all wrong on this one. The apartments were in pristine condition ! The AC units were from the ’70’s and the old hack of the owner didn’t want to replace any of them. It would make the building look bad. They ALL had to be the same, otherwise, if he’d replace one, it would be an eyesore ! Replacing ALL of them at the same time, was out of the question. Anyway, the room was barely enough for one person. Imagine a clown and a transvestite living together in such close proximity.
The one bedroom, now „next door”, has been rented for a long time by an old lady, his son, and his girlfriend, all originary from the Balkans. The son was in his forties, and still living home with mommy. Old traditions are hard to break. You see, in the Balkan countries, children live at home with their parents until they either get married or get thrown out of the house. In some instances, they bring the spouse to their parent’s home to live there, like one big happy family. But not always. Fights frequently break out between the parties. After all, it’s all about saving a buck, for the newlyweds to start a family. That new family usually starts right away by popping a child within the first year of marriage, if it lasts that long. And there are a lot of bastards roaming around those places. Here in the US too, as 40% of the mothers are single mothers. There, it’s more like 60%, and I am being generous (on the lower side), when I am working with numbers. It’s all done in a fashionable, Eastern European way of doing things the wrong way, because there is no other way that they know of.
The old lady has been living in the States for 25 years; however her English language was reminding me to call my father and thank him for screaming at me every time I was getting bad grades.
She also swore that the guy across the hall in 202 was Indian, because she saw a poster of an Indian actor (dot, not feather) on his living room wall. The renter in 202 was just gay, with a fetish for Indian male actors. He was working as a professional masseuse around the West Hollywood gay community. Not that I’ve asked, but it was very obvious by his nasal voice, and by the fact that the bastard could cook.
Billy the clown, as it said on his application for rent, moved in when the closet became available (again) in June of 1995, available by very simple means. I had to evict a hard working guy who was running a Hollywood Touring and Maps to the Stars enterprise out of his beat up, repossessed twice in seven months, 1987 Ford Aerostar. Every first of the month, like clockwork, since the day he took possession of the apartment, the entrepreneur was knocking on my door to tell me that he does not have the rent money, but with the help of the Good Almighty from upstairs, he’ll pay in small installments. By the end of the sixth month, he still owed me eight weeks rent.
I never told him that “upstairs” lived a blonde chick with her musician boyfriend. She was good looking, he was a deadbeat, and none of them “almighty”. I had no idea what he was talking about.
Billy was 48 at the time, short and burly, clean cut, neatly dressed, with polished black shoes that looked three sizes too big, although they were not clown shoes. He was also working part time as a ticket salesman in the booth of a porn theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.
This fact probably impressed the 82 years old landlord, since he approved Billy’s application without too much fuss. I was fine with it, since I did not have to spend the weekends at home, waiting for applicants to show up.
Billy didn’t have a car, so he moved in on a Thursday, with the help of a friend. I didn’t ask what job the friend was holding at the moment, but judging by the beat up car he was driving and the not so clean attire, I’d rather not know.
Billy didn’t bring much stuff. At first, he didn’t even bring a bed. A bed, you know, to sleep on. That came a few weeks later.
I was standing on my balcony, watching the buffoon moving in a slow motion that would drive a turtle crazy. He was pulling out his vast belongings, composed of a big wooden box, a few suits and a few pairs of shoes, all three sizes too big for his feet. Again, not clown shoes. I didn’t know any other clowns at that time, other than my friends, so I thought that bigger shoes must be chic in Clown land.
It turned out that Billy was a quiet as a clown, at the beginning. Never one to complain. Except for a month into his stay, when he decided to flash some ubiquitous piece of undergarment down the toilet, hence the little flood that he involuntarily created.
Luckily, the Armenian plumber, who died of cancer a few months later, was only 10 minutes away and pulled the I-don’t-know-what-it-was from the debts of the crapper tunnel.
One torrid summer day, not that we have any other kind here in Los Angeles, I look out the dinning window and I see Billy. Billy wasn’t moving. He was standing, staring at an abandoned bicycle on the yellow patch of grass that constituted the division between the street and the safety of the sidewalk.
I didn’t know that Billy likes bikes, I thought to myself. Nor that he can fix them, since it was missing the chain and a pedal. His stare looked so determined as if he was onto something. Maybe he holds such a passion for bikes he collects them.
That’s when it hit me! You know how some people like to tweak and soup up their cars? Like those youngsters that buy Dodge Neon or Chevy Prism and turn them into blenders? You know what I’m talking about, right? I call them “blenders” because after they get converted, they sound like they are coughing shit.
Maybe Billy wants to pick up this broken bike and convert it into one of them clown bikes, the ones with one wheel!
Clown circus music started to sound in my head.
The microwave beep stopped me from staring at the starer.
I went to get my food and watch some TV while I eat. It turned out that there was nothing good on all 14 stations. No cable TV for me. I was the proud administrator / manager of one pristine, 16 units building. That’s one apartment too short, for a manager to qualify for free cable. Who the fuck came up with that number? What the hell does number 17 represent to those assholes at the Cable Company? Life sucks.
I got bored of flipping channels and after I finished my meal, I took the dishes to the kitchen. On my way there, my eyesight focused out the window again. I almost dropped the dishes as I halted like a cartoon character while chased and hit by another violent cartoon character. Think Wiley Coyote.
Billy was still there, still in the same standing position, still staring with that same determination in his eyes, at the same broken abandoned bicycle. It must’ve been what? 10 or 15 minutes, right? The word “weird” came to mind as I decide to ask Billy what’s up.
“Hey, Billy! What’s up?” I said, as I can’t quite contain a smile. No reaction. I ask again. Nothing.
What a clown! I knew that only horses sleep standing, but it seems that some humans share this feat.
“YO! Billy! I scream again, louder this time, with my radio presenter’s voice. Slower than a leach, he turned his head, looked at me with droopy, bovine eyes and said:
“I was wondering, could I …
This is a fragment from the book I am working on. I am playing with the title, but I like “Memoires of an Apartment Manager.” Please let me know what you think. All critique is welcome. If you think it’s funny, would you pay $ 6,99 for it on paperback, or you’d rather wait for a used copy on Amazon and buy it for 99 cents plus $ 5,99 shipping and handling?
Or just drop me a line here, on this sublime blogspot.
Thank you for your support, you clowns !!!