Rotting walls. Heavy bags. Rent. Chocolate chip cookies.
I encountered these every Thursday at four in the afternoon. I never wanted to encounter them, but they're just those things that are only existing to bother you.
Take the rotting walls for example. Although I said that I only encounter them on Thursdays, this one is an exception. Instead of one day a week, I have to stare at its ugly appearance Monday through Sunday. With moldy green paint peeling off the grey walls and the large holes that nobody in the entire building knows how they came to be, these walls are terrible. But of course, luck is never on my side, so I never find vast amounts of money on the ground.
The building that I live, with it's rotting walls and ugly paint, is barely affordable with the money I earn. I barely manage to pay the rent as it is. My apartment building is basically one step up from cardboard box. The cardboard box is exactly the same, minus the paint. The only problem with living in a box would be no power. I need my wall outlets. The are more essential than food to me. Without them, there would be no food. The outlets are connected to the cords. The cords are connected to the modem. The modem is connected to the monitor. And now I sound like a pre-school teacher attempted to teach them a song. Kids are, in my opinion, the Devil. Millions of little devils running around causing havoc. They don't understand anything. That's why I left my girlfriend five years ago. She wanted kids. I told her exactly what I just said about them, and she threw a fit. We weren't even talking about having children together. She just stated it while watching one of her soap operas.
"Well Tom, if you don't ever want children, I guess I shouldn't be wasting my time with you."
I can't believe that I still remember her exact words. It wasn't her wasting time, it was me. I was wasting my time being with someone I hated instead of being online. She used to say that it was fate that we were together.
I don't believe in fate. I'm in control of my own life. That is why I live in an apartment that's ready to collapse at any given moment. That's exactly why I have to actually have to be nice to my landlady, who also looks like she's about to drop dead. If the odd few people that talk to me ask me about her, they usually ask how old she is. My response to that is always the same. "Old," I would say. "Really, really old." And that would basically be the end of that discussion.
This landlady isn't the strict kind. Not like the last one. The last on was a crazy man in his forties who would call the cops on you every time you where even a day late with the rent. As soon as it happened to me, I moved. I moved to the opposite side on the city. I refuse to even set foot on that side of the city in fear of him popping out from behind a lamp post screaming at me to pay the goddamn rent.
The landlady now is different. Firstly, she's not crazy sounding, just crazy looking. She won't call the cops on you, instead she asks you to pay up in this weird tone that makes it sound like she's asking you to pass her the sugar for her cookies instead of rent. That brings me to my next point. She bakes. She bakes more than anyone I've ever met. She probably bakes more cookies than every baker in town. Her cookies taste amazing though, so I'm not complaining. The only way I can even get these cookies is by either
A) Paying the rent on time
B) Looking really sad and depressed (Which isn't very difficult for me)
C) Helping her take out her garbage
Taking out her garbage isn't a very fun thing to do. She claims that she lives alone, but she produces enough garbage for every person on the fifth floor. Where she gets all her trash from, I don't know. I only take it out so that I can get one of her cookies, but also because she sees me as some sort of savior when I do, and she lets my rent slide for a while.
Whenever I take out her garbage, she also feels the need to talk to me. Usually about random stuff, like the weather or something, but sometimes she talks about things that really confuse me. When I said that she's sees me as a savior when I take the garbage out, I wasn't kidding. She sometimes babbles about how although I live in such a cheap place with a job where everybody hates me, I'm going to make it big. She never expands on it. She says I'm going to be the greatest savior that ever lived, bigger than any religious or non-fiction leader that ever lived. I don't think much of it though. I generally think she's doing that weird thing that old people do, always forgetting who they're talking to.
"Thomas," she'll say to me as I drag her stupid garbage down the stairs. "You're meant for great things in life. You're going to save a lot of people later on in your life. I'm also pretty sure you're going to find quite a lover someday as well."
God, she makes me laugh sometimes, but of course, I hold off on the laughing until after I'm done carrying her endless amount of garbage bags. She's just so weird, I can't wait until I 'make it big' so I can move away from her and stay away from that side of the city as well.
This landlady though, she looks like one of those stereotypical fortunetellers. She always has long beaded necklaces and bracelets that look like they were made by eight year olds. She's always smoking cigarettes too. Weird though, because her apartment doesn't smell like smoke at all. Her apartment looks really 'homey.' It's really warm and inviting too. There are beaded curtains over some doorways, and there's this round glass thing that she claims is a vase, but there's no hole on top to put flowers in. She claims to live alone, but there's a wooden box wedged between the couch and the wall, she claims that she uses it as an end table, but sometimes it's left open and there are all sorts of toys inside.
Last time I went to take the garbage out, which was last week, because I miraculously managed to pay rent on time this month, I encountered something new. Instead of the apartment being empty except for her sitting at the table smoking her cigarettes, there was some woman that answered the door. She wore a long robe-like dress that made her look like a priestess. In the living room, children sat around on the floor playing with blocks and talking. There was this one kid sitting all by himself staring at a spoon. I immediately figured he had no friends.
The priestess woman disappeared somewhere, so I made my way to the kitchen. This time though, she wasn't alone. There was a man there too. He wasn't old so he couldn't be her husband or anything. This man though, he was completely bald. You could probably shine a laser off his head. He dressed funny too. He had a long leather trench coat on and when he turned around to leave, he put on these sunglasses. They had no frames so I had no idea how they managed to stay on his face. When he saw me, he smiled and I noticed the gap in between his teeth.
"I'll see you soon," he said to me. Not to my landlady, but directly to me. I stared dumbfounded at him as he nodded to my landlady. He walked out quickly with his hands behind his back.
My regular encounters changed that week.
Rotting walls. Heavy bags. Rent. Chocolate chip cookies. Bald men in trench coats.