Monday, January 28, 2013

For Rent

Today's muse:

Not too long ago, I attended a Writescape retreat. It was a wonderful opportunity to focus on my book, which is why I've been away from this blog for so long. I've been spending all my free time writing, and have made great progress on Madison's Avenue. I'm on target to complete the first draft by April.

While on retreat, I attended a few workshops. One of the workshops prompted this piece.

* * *

For Rent

The landlord drops the keys into my hand.

“First and last,” she says, holding out her hand.

“Is it still what we discussed?”

Mrs. Gibson nods, thrusts her hand at me. I pass her a roll of bills wrapped with a red elastic band. She drops it into the front pocket of her apron and leaves, closing the door behind her.

She asked no questions, made no comment on my application. I like her.

The unit is tiny—not much larger than a small hotel room. A thin layer of dirt coats the worn wood floor. It is unmarred but for the isosceles groove that links door to bed to bathroom.

I follow the rut to the bed, ignore the dubious stains on the bare mattress. Peering beneath, I am comforted by the unblemished carpet of dust. No one else has hidden anything under the bed. It will be safe.

Two hinges drilled into the frame of the narrow closet to my right suggest that a door once protected its contents, but as most of my possessions will be stored under the bed, a door is pointless.

I take the rut to the bathroom, pause at the door. The white floor tile is pristine, chrome taps sparkle, and the shower curtain is free of soap-scum. Dainty lace curtains flutter at the narrow window above the sink—the only window in the entire unit.

I glance behind me at the dingy room, then back to the bathroom. I’m thankful that Joe sublet this unit. He was right: the bathroom cleans up quite well. No prints, no trace, no evidence.

I complete the triangle and follow the narrow groove to the door, reaching into my pocket for my wallet. I should pay Mrs. Gibson a little more for rent. After all, she doesn’t ask questions. And for guys like Joe and me, that quality in a landlord is priceless.