Not unsurprisingly, this day started like most others--the hot sweltering July sun creeping up over the horizon, my R2D2esque air conditioner complete with eight foot tube blowing the evil heat outside into the atmosphere. Surely there is no God, or more accurately, surely there was no sense in the gang of explorers, settlers, whoever, who founded this ugly ol' hog shit town. In the winter it's too cold, in the summer it's too hot, and all the people complain that it's too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. Gotta settle somewhere I suppose. I'm sure those settlers I was just talking about were more concerned with primitive matters--hunting, preventing/instigating war, procreating, infrastructure, crops, cuckoldry. Well shit! We figured out a new way of living so only a few select suckers do all that! The rest of us sit back and get fat, try to bed women, learn Al Green songs on guitar, and generally deal with all sorts of urban matters, like dented bumpers and leaky ceilings.
On most Sundays I make a quick jaunt to the grocery store. I drive the two kilometres through a wealthy suburb that borders the Humber River. Know how you can tell a nice neighbourhood? You can't afford to live there. There's even this one house that has a spiral staircase and I always make sure to look for it. Pi and all that shit; you know how it is--infinity. Whoever owns this house just had to put a spiral staircase in the middle of his house, AND have floor to ceiling glass so everyone can see this oversized piece of Rotini. How I long to climb that staircase! Going up and around and then down and around. I think I'll go around again. I think I found a new hobby: Spiral staircases. The only other one that I can recall was the next door neighbour to the house I was staying at during I park underground at the Lowblaws and it's a generally uneventful trip.
I walked out the automatic door to the car with my lemons, potatoes, chips, steak, etc. I was parked perfectly inside my three-sided rectangle, like a damn glove, and here was this guy nailed right onto my bumper. Not barely touching, I mean it looked like I caught his car raping mine, my bumper was noticably crumpled. How could he not notice his egregious error? Or at the very least, reverse a foot and pretend it wasn't him? Isn't that the move? I would at least drive down a few spaces and park there. Two weeks later and what's really bothering me is this persons thought process. How? How could they not notice? For Chrissakes they should have whiplash.
An anger, ney--a smoldering rage, boiled up inside me. My first reaction was to write a quick little note, with a big marker, lift up his wiper and snap it to the dash. Something like, "Hi, I'm a jerkoff and I hit people's bumpers in parking lots, and I'm so fucking stupid that I don't even flee the scene and park somewhere else. I just leave my car pushed RIGHT up against the other car. Tonight, when I get home, I'm going to stuff a dildo in my dog's ass, then lick the dildo clean.
Driver Of This Car."
Instead, mainly because I didn't have a marker or paper, the tools for the job, I gave his stupid license plate a good kick and got into my car to accelerate a foot and a half to check the damage. Once I separated contact, my bumper must have popped back into place for all that remained was a small nick, a barely perceptible break in the smoothness of the bumper. I was unsatisfied at the lack of damage because the more damge there is the more justified my reaction will be. I was past the point of talking myself out of it and just driving home. Something had to be done. His old white Chrysler sat there mocking me, out of place amongst the nicely cropped rows of cars all flush with each other. Here's one car awkwardly jutting one and a half feet into MY space and one and a half feet is a pretty big number whether you're in porn or parking.
It looked like an old man car, this Chrysler. I gave the license plate another good stomp. Not like a soccer kick--that would be stupid, and painful--a good hard marching stomp. That didn't really do anything and now my foot hurt. Fuck this! I did a quick scan of the parking lot and there didn't seem to be anyone in my immediate vicinity, only a few cartboys huddled together popping pimples, so I reached down and gave the license plate a good yank. Impossibly, the plate acqueisced to my strength. I stumbled back in triumph, like when you're playing tug-of-war and the other team lets go of the rope, the ID of this metal beast clutched in my hands.
Well, that wasn't very hard. I had the plastic casing around the plate and everything. That's why it came off so easily I suppose. See, I didn't grab the plate directly, I went for the plastic casing and that was the ticket.
I felt like the Hulk. A goddamn animal. A fucking hurricane and Mike Tyson's just that plastic bag in American Beauty.
Do. Not. Fuck. With. Me.
Should I go for the back plate too? Naw, don't do it Nezbit, you're a nice guy; remember the scale of justice--keep it level. If there was more damage, well then, yes, but as it stands we're now even. Plus, you got enough problems, don't need some psycho in a Chysler coming after you.
I got in my Vibe and got the fuck outta there. I made a right out of the the Loblaws and proceeded south on Jane St. I rolled down the window and like a frisbee tossed the license plate onto the sidewalk, and that was that.
Later that night, around 10:30, I was deeply engrossed in the season premiere of Breaking Bad. Man, I'd like to get a hold of that blue meth Walt and Jesse cooked; it looked like the crystallized formations found in deep caves. A dripping of some sort penetrated the barrier of my aural sense. At first, I thought it was the window AC unit of the lady above me dripping onto the pavement below. Even though it was humid as hell, I got up and closed the window some more, not all the way. Damn, can still hear that dripping. Is it just in my head or am I really experiencing this? Is Walt going to notice a dripping sound any minute too?
It had been happening for some time now and I could predict the drops with pinpoint accuracy. Walt didn't notice a thing, had more important matters on his mind: Like how to take Gus out of the picture, and purchase a car wash to clean his dirty money, and cars too, I suppose. No, it wasn't part of the show. Merely a gentle dripping, this must be my problem.
A commercial break.
I inadvertently looked up to the ceiling and to my surprise and dismay there were two distinct droplets steadily coming down. Already a sizeable puddle was gathering on my 1950's parquete floor. Ceiling was bubbling out like it was going to give birth. Hmmm....well, first things first. Grab two pans and set them down. Problem solved. I'm a regular fucking Mike Holmes. I sat back down, tried to drown out the Chinese Water Torture my pans were enduring. My attention kept returning to the ceiling and the leaking was getting progressively worse. I could see new drops forming, threatening to jump. I had to move the pan and put my mop bucket down so I could catch two drops for the price of one. I moved that pan to another leak. What the fuck is going on here? This is serious I think. Do I make the phone call to the landlord at 10:45pm on a Sunday night?
The answer came swiftly: Yes. I was goddamn annoyed at this point. Thoughts of self-pity--oh, this just had to happen to me--fought for control and I struggled to put them aside. I waited a fucking year for this new season of Breaking Bad and my anticipation was as high as it gets for a TV show; then it was further enhanced by the sudden realization that I didn't have to wait until Monday to download it--I have the AMC channel. I can watch it Sunday night! I'm saying Yes! to life.
I found the name for the landlord in my phone and begrudgingly pushed the 'talk' button. As it rang, I debated if I was justified for the late night call. I mean, if it was 2pm there would be no question. But I'm stoned and it's late, and I could probably deal with it in the morning. Mmmm...maybe not, though. What if the ceiling collapses?
"Hallo?" An Eastern European lady's voice said on the other end. Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Ukraine, take your pick, but it wasn't my landlord; thought I had the wrong number. "Hi, this is Taylor from apartment number three, is Angela around?"
"Oh, hi Taylure. My name's Tuuta. I am landlord while Anna's away."
I explained the gist of the problem. Tuuta made me go upstairs to see what number apartment was above me because she didn't know. I went upstairs. It was number seven. I should have deduced that much considering there's four apartments per floor; I could have simply added four to my apartment. I called her back. "It's number seven, Tuuta."
On the screen, Gus, the druglord that Hank cooks for, is slicing the throat of an underling to prove a point. I don't quite get it though because I'm busy talking on the phone with a lady named Tuuta. The only time I want to be talking to a 'Tuuta' is when I call an escort.
"Okay, I call her now."
Momentarily relieved that the ball was rolling, I sat back and honed in on my ten year old Zenith. I just couldn't get into it though--the show, not the TV, that is. I was hot and bothered, a goddamn leak almost directly above me that keeps getting worse by the minute.
The show ended and just sick of it all, cursing my rotten luck, I decided to get ready for bed. Tuned the radio to CBC 1--the show was This American Life. Picked up whatever book I was reading and knocked off a few pages. Instinctively, I checked the leaks a few more times and then turned out the lights.
As you can guess, it wasn't the greatest sleep. Somehow, even in my dream state I woke up every couple hours and wearily checked the leaks, and more importantly dumped the overflowing bucket and pans. I get out to my living room area and flick the light switch to assess the situation. No dice. I flicked the light switch up and down a few more times to confirm the problem just like you would do. I had to settle for the kitchen light. It was enough to illuminate the horror before me. My mop bucket was overflowing and now there was a steady piss stream flowing down from the bulbous grapefruit sized lamp fixture (chandelier?). The floor was absolutely soaked! This had officially been upgraded from a leak to a downpour.
At 7:30 am the next morning I called Tuuta and let her know, that yes, it was still leaking. Funny, I told her, that the sun was shining outside and it was raining in my apartment. A meterological anomaly of some kind, don't you think? Her husband would be there in 30 minutes. I sat on my kitchen table and waited for him to show up.
At 8 O'clock my phone rang. It was Tuuta. "Hi Taylure, can you let my husband, Walter, in? He doesn't have a key." I just laughed and said, "Sure." I was kind of pissed off, but really I welcomed the minor catastrophe. A man has to switch up his routines or he goes madder quicker. But it doesn't matter how madder a man gets if it's quicr or not, glacial or hot, the end result is still the same--madness takes over and Klaus Kinski is suddenly in your dreams stalking you through a tropical forest with a macehte.
Walter was a very short man, about five feet tall. Absurdly short, really. We shook hands and he followed me up the stairs. I said, "I hope you brought your bathing suit," but he just smiled sheepishly and followed me inside. Upon entering, he muttered "Oh, fuck," in perfect English. "This is not good," he added, looking at me, or rather, up at me. "Yeah, I know it's not good," I said, obviously irritated. I felt somewhat unworthy to have this older man look up at me. He's seen more, probably lived under some horrible Communist regime in Poland, waiting for hours in a bread queue; he shouldn't be looking up to a thirty year old part time loser caker like me.
Walter said he had to shut off the water to the apartment and get Tuuta to call the plumber. She showed up five minutes later and gave me an exasperated look. "I'm sooo sorry, Taylure, this is horrible." I could barely hear her over fucking Niagara Falls. "Yeah, yeah, it's okay, shit happens, ya know?" I don't think she was entirely familiar with that phrase, maybe she hasn't seen Forest Gump, but she must have sensed the solemnity in my voice, no matter the language. I'm sure some of the other tenants would have been roaring mad. There's a facade of bravado and righteousness tenants must uphold in front of the other tenants, like they're tough guys who know their rights. And I use guys loosely, these women who are my neighbours were flipping out when I invited them in to see the damage. Lady number one: "Oh my god! You should move out! Lady number two: "You have to call the health inspector. There's a knock at the door and looky here, it's Lady number three: "Oh you poor thing! I'm soo sorry." Why is she sorry?
The problem turned out to be a radiator leak from the upstairs apartment. She didn't even know it was leaking. I'm now the proud owner of two ten x ten holes in my ceiling. I walked over to the one in the corner of my living room for an inspection. There I stood directly below this hole, my neck cocked back, my eyes beaming to the stars. At first I didn't believe my blinkers. I could see all the way up to the ceiling ABOVE me. Not MY ceiling, but my neighbours. WHA? Anyone out there got a periscope?