Sorry that this took a bit more than half an hour, but boy does it dredge up memories of New York. 854 words.
Day of Moving Hell
Brad knew he had to move when the band from the Golden Ghoti—pronounced “fish”—came over. Lead guitarist said, “Effing shoebox,” and the entourage trooped out to an after-hours joint on Canal Street.
Well, yes, it was a studio for Chrissakes, and those don’t come cheap in the Village anymore. He paid twenty-two hundred plus 400 maintenance, so next day he Craiglisted it for twenty-five. His old girlfriend Annabelle, the girl from Montreal with purple hair, took it without knowing it was an illegal sublet. Hey, this is New York, for chrissakes. Everybody does it.
Brad moved to a loft in Dumbo—the warehouses down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass. The loft was nineteen hundred and no maintenance since it was an AIR—artist in residence, meaning technically you can’t live there.
So every month Annabelle gave him twenty-nine. You following me? And Brad gave the landlord twenty-six, earning three and saving seven. Got it now?
But there was more weird about Annabelle than her purple hair. She was an artist. That means she worked as a waitress in an Italian bakery. You don’t think artists live by selling their goddam paintings, do you? Get real.
Brad told me he loved her again, now that she was back from Montreal. He said love means being intimate whenever you want, but I think it was that she gave him free cannelloni when he dropped by. That’s why she was fired—for the cannelloni, not the love-making.
Now Brad was stuck with an illegal sublet, a tenant who wanted him to cover her bills, and a pissed off landlord waiting to get the housing-court marshal to remove her and the furniture. The landlord also was considering charges of breach of contract.
“It’s a living hell,” he told me while we were having a drink at the San Remo. “I think I no longer love her,” he said, sounding like Anna Karenina.
“Why’re you telling me your grief, Brad?” I asked, knowing the answer already.
“You’re my fraternity brother, my buddy, and my lawyer.”
“So you’re picking up the bar tab as my client?”
“Stephen! I’m shocked. Don’t you see, my bank account is sinking faster than a bum in the East River? I can’t break the lease on my loft, I can’t pay for the Jane St. pad, Annabelle says she can’t pay me. My life is a living hell.”
“So, let’s get rid of Annabelle. I’ll call Immigration and tell them she’s a hooker. They’ll deport her.”
“You can’t do that! She’s an artist who’s down on her luck.”
“Brad, now is moving day. You want to move hell out of your Jane St. pad. You’re looking for purity in your life, I’ll eliminate the hell and send you the bill.”
He sighed like the Hindenburg going down at Lakehurst. “Okay, do it. There are times we have to play God, reluctant as I am….”
“Now, I have to run. Benefit that cost me fifty bucks. I’ll give you a ring in a day or two.” And I was off to a dive on East 6th St. The benefit had something to do with the arts, which means there’s lots of chicks and unlimited wine, a great combination.
That’s where I ran into hell herself. The benefit was something Annabelle had cooked up to pay the rent and give her some walking around money.
“Stephen,” she said throwing her arm around my shoulder. “Brad just called me. What a nice person to warn me about my problems with Immigration. The landlord. Housing marshals.” She smiled, making her teeth look like a piano keyboard.
“It’s the law, Annabelle. I’m truly sorry things have gotten so mixed up.”
“No, not at all, Stephen. Don’t pity me. Pity your client, playing God. My lawyer has already issued an estoppel.”
“What the hell does he…?”
“She said, ‘an estoppel protects an aggrieved party—that’s me—if the counter-party—that’s Brad—induced an expectation from the aggrieved party, and the aggrieved party reasonably relied on the expectation and would suffer detriment if the expectation is not met.’ In other words, he said I could live at Jane St. and it would now only cost me half the rent I paid.” She posed with her finger under her chin. “What I think is he ate so many cannelloni he couldn’t think straight. Sugar high, although he called it undying love for me and my art.”
I was choking on my Chablis. “Where do you get off accusing my client…?”
“The proof is in one of his e-mail messages. Well, no matter. I can sue for damages to my reputation as an artist, my credit rating, and for mental suffering.”
I was aghast at coming up against an artist chick with purple hair who could outwit me. No one does an Erin Brockovich on me!
“Don’t be angry, Stephen,” Annabelle said. “I’m sure we can negotiate. I’ll take Brad’s loft and he can have the Jane St. pad—if he gets the marshal’s lock off the door.” She turned and looked back at me. “Moving days are sheer hell, aren’t they?”
Those artists. I absolutely and truly hate creative people.