Situation Normal. Atmosphere Breathable. Brainstem Injected. Dialogue Engaged.
stg-roadrunner-gfx
Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Ramshackle Ambush Part One



I was scouting out neighborhoods looking for a new place to live when I got sprayed in the face with industrial strength bug poison. As the potent chemical blend burrowed into my pores and raped my eyeballs, I fell to the wooden floor, gasping and clutching my face.

"Oh shit, sorry kid! Didn't mean to do that. You got medical insurance?"

The apartment was a ratty little hole in the basement of a ramshackle house at 33rd and May on the south side of Chicago. It was my second appointment of the day, and the elderly owner met me there ten minutes before, bug spray in hand. He led me into the dingy apartment and pointed out improvements he intended to make before letting the space.

"That's the living room. Nice window, right? Lots of light." He sprayed the sill. "Here's the bathroom. We're gonna retile this. I think they kept a cat locked in here, so it's a little musty right now." He sprayed the caulking. He sniffed it and seemed satisfied.

In one bedroom there were cigarette burns on the wooden flooring. Nobody lets that many butts smolder unless they're seriously blissed on dope. This guy certainly had a bad run of tenants previously. The neighborhood was full of trees and decent cars, no litter, no gunshots. At least not on this Saturday afternoon. So why was this place such a pit?

The kitchen lacked both an oven and a refrigerator, so I asked about them. "What about the stove and fridge?"

"Oh! Yeah! You can put those here and here." He smiled and the wiry grey hair sprouting from his ears perked up as the smile stretched his skin.

I was plenty dubious after witnessing the compulsive spraying, the burns on the floor, the peeling paint, and the pungent smell wafting from the commode. Now he's telling me I have to provide the two most important appliances in the kitchen myself? And he wants $600 for this shithole? The old guy opened up a kitchen cabinet and let another blast of aerosol death mist fly, speckling the interior where my plates would rest. Time to go.

"Thanks for showing me the place, Ron. I'll call you soon if I'm interested. Have a nice-"

"Wait a sec, hold on! I want to show you one more-"

He turned around too fast for a codger his age and nearly tripped himself. He used the hand holding the can to brace himself against a doorframe, smashing his fingers between the cylinder and the wood. One of those fingers depressed the aerosol trigger. I took the blast right in the face.

"Kid? Hey, kid? Deep breaths. Breathe. You'll be okay. I'm really sorry."

I rolled onto my back, hyperventilating, watching the tar stained ceiling through teary blinking eyes. I tasted battery acid and boiling antifreeze fighting for possession of my tongue.

"You're not gonna sue me, are ya?"

I pawed at my throat. "Wa... water. Please." Ragged and wet.

"Uh... no cups, kid. Water's shut off, too. Let me help you up."

His cell phone rang. "Joey? Yeah, I'm showin' the place. I thought you said you were gonna finish fixin' this place up! It looks like crap, and I almost just killed a kid who mighta rented it if you hadn't been a lazy little bastard! What? I bug sprayed him. No, not on purpose. On accident! In his face. Yeah. No, he's not dead. What? Are you sure? That's a bit drastic, don't you think? Okay, all right, sure. I'll be here. Hurry up."

He closed the phone and looked at me.

"You just take it easy. My nephew is on his way. He's gonna help you. We'll, uh... he'll take you to the hospital, get those eyes flushed clean. You'll be okay. And I'll give you a discount. A hundred bucks off the first two months, how's that sound?"

"Urrrrrk...." I heard an ice cream truck jingle outside. I think. My head was throbbing, and I could feel every heartbeat, every surge of blood tremoring through the capillaries under the skin of my face. Sounds were thickening, and the old bastard's voice sounded like he was talking from inside a seashell. My stomach buckled, and I convulsed. Slightly. I tried to stand up, using the kitchen counter to hoist myself upright.

To my surprise, the fat old man slapped my hands from the counter lip.

"Stay down, kiddo. No sense risking falling over or passing out or anything. Let's wait for help."

"Nah... I gotta go. Go home. Shower. Drink some milk."

I tried again to get up. This time he shoved me hard. My head ricocheted off the wall. My neck got wrenched a bit. Ailments and injuries were piling up fast.

"What the fuck? You really got it in for me, huh? Damned old man." Hoarse.

"Don't get up, kid. My nephew is on his way. You just stay right there. We'll take care of you. Yes we will. You betcha."

He itched his crotch, pocketed his bug spray, and began picking his nose. He watched through the highset window absentmindedly, waiting. I wondered what his nephew had said to change his attitude so drastically. Something was very wrong.
4:20 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm

9 Comments:

October 13, 2005 1:32 AM, Blogger if_i_had_a_hammer said...

sometimes i have a hard time separating the fact from fiction on your web site, which is one of the things that makes it so cool. looking forward to part two.

 
October 13, 2005 3:12 PM, Anonymous sarcastrix said...

I've always suspected that you take true stories and allow your mind to wander with them. You start off with real events and then take them someplace else.

Maybe...

 
October 13, 2005 3:34 PM, Blogger Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm said...

Dead on, Sarcastrix. 90% of this tale is absolutely true.

Part two tomorrow, if I can cop a spare hour to muster it.

 
October 13, 2005 4:42 PM, Blogger ty bluesmith said...

nice

 
October 13, 2005 5:14 PM, Blogger Wardo said...

Bwah ha ha! I love the "Angry Would-be Tenant Steve" photo leading off the article. I give you top marks for that one.

-A

 
October 13, 2005 7:02 PM, Blogger Stace said...

I always get my suspense pants on and then you STOP. I should learn to wait until the part 2 comes out prior to reading it all. DAMN IT.

 
October 13, 2005 8:58 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

I need part 2!!

 
October 14, 2005 9:50 AM, Blogger Kerouaced said...

Ha, there is definitely something amiss...

 
October 14, 2005 12:11 PM, Blogger Mishka said...

Absolutely terrific...I hope you didn't really get hit face on with bug spray...that has to be brain altering...

 

Post a Comment

left-arrow Home

stg-shark
Bridgeport Eavesdropping
Wednesday Snapshots
Better Than Parachutes
Gilroy's Afternoon Hallucination
Paging Yesterday
Seeking Bulldozer Rentals
No Paper This Time
Archival Doubleheader
Juvenile Imbecility
Alleyway Ribcage Rumble
August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
August 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
February 2008
May 2008
August 2008
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
December 2009
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
August 2010
August 2011
September 2011
February 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
October 2012
November 2012
May 2013
August 2013
September 2013
December 2013
May 2014
October 2014
November 2014
December 2016