“How about you open the door?” I suggested.
“How ‘bout it’s open wide enough?”
He was bare-chested. His dirty jeans rode on a ridge of pelvic bone. Part of the money I wasn’t getting in rent was going toward tattoo ink. His teeth were a mess. The eye within view looked like a roadmap — red lines headed in all directions.
“Jennifer home?” I asked.
She was a sweet girl who needed a break when I rented her the place. Furnished, since we had no need of our old stuff in Duke’s mansion. She had a hard luck story, sure, but it didn’t sound hopeless. Her dog got run over. She lost her job when Target downsized. But she landed work at WalMart and got her first check.
“I’ve always been proud of paying my bills on time,” she said. I believed her! There wasn’t a boyfriend in the picture when we shook hands on the deal. Because I am a soft-hearted fool, there was no written lease. Ergo, there was no legal document to keep the boyfriend or the creature now yipping and gnawing on the door from moving in.
The good news was that I could evict with thirty days notice.
“Your girlfriend, maybe? The girl who rents this place.”
“Never heard of no Jennifer.”
“Jen. Jenny. The renter.”
He slammed the door. “J!” he yelled. “Dude at the door. Landlord.”
“Uh,” she said from somewhere out of sight.
I knocked again.
This time Jennifer opened to door as far as the security chain allowed.
“Huh,” she said.
Meth can do a lot in a few months. The formerly sweet, pudgy Jennifer now looked out at me with darting, dilated eyes. As far as I could tell she’d just walked to the door but that was enough to work up a sweat.
“Jennifer, you remember me?”
“Course I do. Fatman. Not rent day. Is it?”
I explained how I was evicting her. Upgrading. Remodeling. Had to empty the place out. Toxic dust. Fumes. Etcetera.
She asked if she could get the damage deposit back immediately. At the mention of cash money the boyfriend was at the door again. I told her I’d send her a check if the place was clean and I got a forwarding address. Fat chance.
Jennifer and her Romeo moved out in the middle of the night, taking with them their clothes and toothbrushes. They left behind most of my furniture, which the little mutt had turned into chew toys. There was the inevitable sink full of dirty dishes and a refrigerator’s worth of spoiled condiments. They also smashed the toilet and bathroom sink with a three pound sledgehammer, this left standing handle up in the puddle that formed.
That night I slipped a note under the steel door in the coal bin. House is empty, it said.
I figured one way or another, Duke would get the message.