When my husband and I first got married we moved into a two bedroom duplex and our landlord and his wife lived on the other side in their two bedroom duplex. He was a nice man (and quite eccentric). He did things like help himself to our fresh baked cookies after we left. My husband thought I ate them all because I was pregnant. I started to think that I had been blacking out and eating mass quantities of chocolate chip cookies without knowing it. Is that a thing? I sure hope not because if I am going to eat hordes of cookies I want to remember that deliciousness. So when we lived in this apartment it was a weird experience. I am going to tell you that my husband and I were very young and a little immature. Okay, a LOT immature. Okay I am still immature, but my husband is very grown up now.
One night we were sitting on the couch and watching television together. We had the windows open and we could hear someone call my husband’s name softly. My husband was looking around and he says “Do you hear that?”
I listened and there it was a faint voice calling my husband’s name. He looked outside and it was pitch black out there and he didn’t see anything. We go back to watching tv. We hear it again. My husband was looking at me and he says “It sounds like the landlord. Do you think he is calling from the basement?”
I was like “He isn’t calling my name so I don’t have to worry about it.” I was so helpful like that. Yes we were the type to lay in bed until the kids called us by name. (It was never Daddy.) But tonight no one was calling me, I get to watch my show without interruption. My husband goes downstairs to the basement and no one is there. He comes up and shrugs. We go back to our tv habit and again his name is called. My husband looks up to the heavens and says “Yes? God is that you?” like he is getting his calling from the good Lord himself. I know my husband…he was not.
The voice gets evermore persistent. My husband opens the blinds to go out onto the deck and there he is our landlord out on our deck calling my husband. We both remember this story so well and we still laugh about because my husband refers to it as the night that we thought God was calling him. I refer to it as the night we truly realized that our landlord was batshit crazy.
We gather more data the longer that we live there. Like the day I went to put the baby down in her crib for her nap. I see the landlord outside face down in the grass in no particular order. I run to get my husband and I was like “I think the landlord is dead.”
My husband hurriedly walks into the baby’s room (but quietly because there is no need to wake the baby) and he sees it too. We both then crawl to the window and peek out to see if we see the landlord moving. He was just facedown in the grass in no particular place, just randomly in the middle of the backyard. My husband looks at me and we were both like “What do we do?”
I myself am the, we should call the police, type. My husband is more of a, I don’t want to be called as a witness, type. So we both decide that we need to make sure he is dead before we call the police…or as my husband suggested call someone else’s attention to the dead body in the backyard.
So here we are in our baby’s room, crouched on our hands and knees peering out the window trying not to be seen and making noises loud enough to hopefully wake up the landlord who accidentally fell asleep whilst walking, but not so loud to wake the baby so that she is screaming because her parents are fucking morons. We whistle and make what we think could be bird noises…but we don’t actually know what birds sound like apparently. Once I make a monkey noise, because who wouldn’t want to wake up to see a monkey? Eventually my husband sort of sneezes the guy’s name. The man sits up and looks around. My husband and I duck down quickly because we don’t want to be seen. Our landlord sees nothing and goes back to his dirt nap. Like it’s a perfectly fucking normal thing to do! We were relieved because we didn’t have to stage a scene for someone else to stumble upon his body. We both high-five and carry on with our lives.
Next we bought a kitten and bring it home and it is so super tiny. Our landlord had poodles and we don’t really know much about them, just that they bark whenever we are trying to get the baby to bed. (we are not fans of these poodles) Well apparently their poodles have fleas and now our kitten is infested with them. We try everything to get rid of them. The problem is that it isn’t the kitten it’s the poodles. How do you stop their poodles from having fleas? “Oh hey, we bought these nice flea collars for your dogs. No reason, really, just thought they were super pretty.” So we are told by our vet to bomb for fleas. My husband tells me that I should take the kitten, baby and myself to my parents while we set off the bomb. We needed to stay out of the house for forty eight hours or something like that. I say, and you are all now my witnesses “You should probably tell the landlord and his wife that we are doing this.”
He tells me that he did. When we go back to the apartment there is dead things all over the place. The Landlord greets us out on the porch and says that he forgot we were setting off the flea bomb.GUYS, they stayed in that gas chamber that killed everything else and he, his wife and the two poodles were all alive and well. We never did have fleas after. Luckily we still had neighbors though. That was almost a different seat in the courthouse. It’s probably way worse to be a suspect than a witness I’m assuming.
The next story was years later and our daughter is three and our son is a baby. My daughter was in her room playing dollhouse and we hear her say, casually I might add, “That man is on fire!” Which is not what you want to hear from your three year old. I run to my daughter with the baby in my arms and sure enough a man, our landlord, is on fire. He was outside of her bedroom window engulfed in flames.
I yell to my husband “The landlord is on fire!” My husband runs outside. Just as I look up the neighbor next door sprints across the lawn toward him and knocks the landlord off of his feet. They roll around until the fire is out. The Landlord stands up and says “You motherfucking cocksucker!!!!” I close the window because this is not the kind of language I want my young children to learn from a stranger. That’s the kind of language they should learn from their mother, years later, on her own terms.
As far as I know, our old landlord is still alive and breaking and entering and stealing other people’s baked goods. He was an odd old fellow, but kind just the same. He just didn’t understand boundaries and he was impervious to poison, fire, and whatever caused that impromptu dirt nap in the backyard. When we were living there I felt like we lived in a fishbowl because they knew everything that went on in our home. The wife once said that she could hear me whenever I was on the telephone. I was like, I may never use that phone again. Now that it has been over twenty years I think back at it as those endearing landlords. That’s how life works, memories turn into stories and the frustration turns into endearment.
Moral of my story, don’t judge people too harshly. We are all doing our best to make it in this life. Forgive often and try to accept others as they are, a little acceptance goes a long way. Another moral is that when you live in a duplex get a deadbolt so the landlord can’t be stealing your baked goods, because I am certain he was not supposed to be eating those.
attention: I am trying to keep my courage up and to continue this blog for myself. If I am reaching any of you and you are truly enjoying my writing, please reach out. I would love to hear from you. If you are in a bad place and my words are reaching you let me say this to you…I have been where you are. I have been where the emptiness lives and where the darkness is thick. I made it through. I am here today because I always kept my sense of humor. I believe in you and I hope my humor reaches that place in your soul that makes you ache. Laugh! Laugh out loud because laughter is light and darkness can’t live in the light. I cannot save you but I sure can let you know that YOU are worth saving. God Bless you all!