There is too much distance between fingers and keyboard. Between clock hands and ticks. There were too many e-mails in my inbox to even look at. I'm not ignoring you, I'm overunderwhelmed. Been mentally playing hackeysack with my former landlady's head.
September 1st? 2nd? One of the first post-living in her house days, she agreed to meet me at 9 to give me my deposit and the money I had paid her in advanced rent. Nine came and went. Nine thirty came and went. One of the new Chinese tenants (all the new tenants are Chinese) came downstairs and asked if she could have some of the furniture I was leaving behind. So I helped her carry them upstairs, and lamented over Landlady being late.
"She...she crazy. I no trust. And she not in Boston now. She in DC."
So I called Landlady, "Hi (Landlady), this is (Safey), I'm at the house waiting for you."
"Yes." She said. "I be at nine."
"It's ten fifteen."
"Yes. I be at nine."
"Nine o'clock when, (Landlady)? nine o'clock tomorrow morning? Nine o'clock tomorrow night? Nine when?"
"Nine. Yes. I be at nine."
This is when I started to doubt the whole "I no speak good English" routine. According to the new tenant upstairs, Landlady is just as crazy and hard to understand in her native tongue.
I hung up having no idea when she was coming back. My guess was the ninth of September. But she called during the next Thursday shift to complain about some of my stuff still being in the basement. "You gave me until October to get my stuff out of the basement."
"Yes." She said. "But today Thursday."
I gave up. "Fine. Look, I'll borrow my boss's van, drive over and pick my stuff up after work tonight. I will be there at nine. You should be there to give me the money you owe me."
"Yes. I be at nine."
"Nine o'clock, tonight, you will be at the house to give me the check?"
"Not September ninth, or in nine months? Tonight? Nine?"
"Yes I be nine."
So, after a full day arranging comic books, flirting with hipster nerds, and dealing with family madness, I picked up the comic bookmobile and drove to my house. She, of course, wasn't there, but I started moving the shit that I'd left behind. A box or two of my own stuff, but mostly stuff from Divine, Celeste, Sir Trick, Sora, and the previous tenants, who never moved all their belongings out.
I was just about finished when I heard lots of Mandarin being spoken by a familiar voice. "Landlady?" I shouted.
She did not respond. But I saw her walk out to her car. So I ran up the stairs to where she could see me. "Do you have my check?"
"You couch need move."
"Excuse me? You said I should leave behind some furniture for the new tenants. I said I'd leave the couch, the computer desk, and the bureau. I gave the bureau and the computer desk to the people upstairs. So all that is here is the couch."
"It too big. Need move."
"I can't. It doesn't fit through the doors." And it's true. Someone busted the double doors at the front of the house, and the couch is too big to maneuver through a single door. Still, Landlady's husband, two of the upstairs tenants and I tried to move it out. Unsuccessfully. They addressed each other, and me, in Mandarin the entire time. Yelling at me in a language I don't understand. What I did understand, and what they came to understand, is that the couch wasn't going to get outside until the doors were fixed. Which was not my fucken problem.
"Ok. Well, I can't do anything about the couch until you get the door fixed. Please give me my check."
"You have, I think, stuff in basement."
"Yes. I am moving it out now. There's two bags left."
"Last tenants leave too much stuff. Too much. And I fined for throw out. I no want fine again."
"(Landlady), there are two bags downstairs, you have watched me moving my stuff into a van. Give me the money you owe me so I can move out."
"Ok. I write check while you move bags."
Fine. I went to the basement, picked up the bags and walked to the van. When I came back, she was gone. No check.
I left a note on the door, telling her to call me when she read it. I called her phone a number of times. Two days later, she e-mailed me Hi, because when I am home you are in work. It's hard to meet. Do you mind to give me your address and I can mail you a check( that may be fast than we meet).
I minded, and told her as such. She pretended not to know what I meant.