march 21st, 2006
171 days ago, when i was 24

technically this a two-bedroom flat, but we're not technical. five people live here, all from craigslist, and we don't lock the front door. the other day some girl was frying bacon in the kitchen. she looked up from the pan and said, "do you hang out here a lot?" i told her, my name's on the lease. she said, that's cool.

zane, an openly gay kid, lived in our closet. he ate zanax like it was vicodin. we called him zanex. the pills messed up his memory. he left empty pots glowing red on the stove. "oh," he would shout over the fire alarm, "my tea." this is why i own rifle-range ear plugs. and because in the mornings zanex sang along with madonna while grinding coffee beans. his tenancy ended with an airborne chair.

we found his ipod in the freezer. he said, "there it is."

bethany ate adderall like it was xanax. we called her bethamphetamine. beth never stopped talking; she sounded like a modem connecting. and her bedroom--her bedroom looked like one yard sale had fallen onto another.

dirk was a quiet vegetarian who hummed along to his acoustic guitar. he worked at a coffee shop and coached children's soccer. "it's so exciting," he said to me once. "they're actually passing to each other now." the last time i saw dirk he was at the dining room table snorting lines off the bible.

sashi lived in the master bedroom. he came from india and he owned one dish. we didn't have the heart to tell him that it was a dog bowl, but he wondered why we barked at him.

david rented the living room. in the ad we called it a master bedroom with a fireplace. he cordoned it off for himself by hanging oriental rugs like curtains from the ceiling. david works the door at a club downtown. one morning he came to my room trembling. 6'3", 220 pounds--that's a lot of trembling. i had never seen a bouncer on the verge of tears. "i saw a mouse in my room," he confessed. "and, you see, i have a situation with the critters."

david has a situation with the critters.

kevin lives in the den. two qualities dominate his personality: paranoia and the compulsive drive to clean. once he burst into my bedroom with a shotgun. "check it out," he said, aiming it from his hip. "i can use it for crowd control." another night he burst into my room with a bottle of the new orange 409. "check it out," he said. "i can use it for mildew." you go into his room and you find two things: bullets and brillo pads.

i would tell you about the girl who lives behind the refrigerator, but i haven't met her yet. once she walked behind me as i washed dishes, but that doesn't mean we're close. we both hide in our rooms. i'm more familiar with the cadence of her keystrokes than her voice. the rest of what i know about her i learn from the bathroom. shelly likes orange-mango shampoo.

how do i know her name? i check the mail.

© bobby burgess