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$400 for 1BR w/ util incl. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org...
That had to be a misprint.
Apartments round here STARTED at $800 without utilities. And places around $800 usually had broken windows and cockroaches all over the place. But I figured, what's the harm in checking it out. So I emailed the guy about it.
I guess him replying within 5 minutes should have been a warning sign. When I spoke with him, he practically begged me to take a look at it that day. He even said he'd knock $50 off the rent if I took it today. That should have set off alarm bells.
You have to realize I was at a very vulnerable period in my life. I had been laid off my teaching job a year and a half ago. I had been teaching senior English class up until I had difficulty with one of my students. I caught her cheating during her final exam and told her I had to flunk her. She got mad, telling me that she had a scholarship to such and such college, that her dad knew Mr. So and so, and that she was sure that if I spoke with him, they could, "Work something out."
This was back when I had ethics, so I told her no way. So the class ended. Ultimately so did my job there as she and her friends began spreading rumors that I propositioned her. So that was the end of my employment there. She, being head cheerleader and having friends/family in high places and being a terrific actress, got the community to believe her.
My boss privately told me that he and the school committee doubted her story, but given it was all over the news; they could not have me there anymore. So they laid me off and fortunately let me get unemployment. Unfortunately, my fiancée at the time, didn't believe me and told me "I must have done something" to cause her complaints, so she broke off our engagement.
The unemployment dried up after a year, so I had to move back to my parents' house for a while. Things then started looking up. A family friend helped me get a good retail job with excellent commission. So I was able to start saving up some cash. In retrospect, I should have done some background research but I was desperate to leave my parents' house. I really needed my privacy. But in the end, my pride overwhelmed my common sense.
So I met the prospective landlord. At first I thought I had the wrong place as the neighborhood was beautiful. It was in one of those high class places, with Porsches and BMWs in each driveway. But I knew I had the right place when the guy came out of the apartment waving me down.
The apartment was awesome. Everything was new and in great shape. It was like an apartment in Beverly Hills or something. Two floors. Hardwood floors. Washer, dryer, dishwasher, deck w/ grill, pool, the works. And he was willing to offer it to me for $350 per month. All he wanted was first and last. So I gladly paid him right then and there with the lease beginning July 1st. He even sweetened the deal by letting me move in (w/o extra cost) the weekend before the 1st.
I set up the utilities, contacted the moving company, and started the move in. With the cheap rent and included utilities, I was able to afford a nice TV, furniture, and even some high class booze. I felt like a king. I was living large. All the problems I had gone through with the school and my ex felt like they were a million years ago. Now I was living the good life.
How stupid I was.
End of part one....
A few nights into my tenancy, I was watching TV and checking out Facebook. Cold. I remember feeling cold. Which was weird given that it was a humid summer night and I only had one little fan on. Oh well, lower AC bills, I remember laughing to myself. Then I saw my ex's name on Facebook announcing that she was engaged to some dude. That hurt. And looking at all of the congratulatory posts just made me feel worse.
Some of you will probably ask why I was still friends with her on Facebook. Simple. It was part of us remaining friends. We had a lot of mutual friends. OK, most of our friends actually had been her friends. I had been an only child growing up and me and my family had moved here from Ohio back when I was 17. I had some friends, but not as many as her. Let me put it this way.. If we had gotten married, her bachelorette party would have outnumbered my stag party twenty to one.
I just remember feeling sad. So I just played some candy crush and had a couple of drinks (at least it was high end stuff). Eventually I got tipsy enough and fell asleep. At 10PM, the phone rang. Too late for a telemarketer. Must be a wrong number. So I let it ring figuring it would eventually stop.
Ring. Ring. Ring. I went on Youtube and put on some old MTV videos (yeah, I'm old).
Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring. I turned the volume up..
Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring. OK. Maybe it was my parents. Somebody could be hurt. So I answered.
"Hello Dan." came out of the receiver in a casual laid back way.
"I heard you're living at my old place. I wanted to say hi. Don't worry, I'm not a stalker or anything. Just wanted to see if you had any questions or anything."
The former tenant calling me at 10PM? That was creepy. I remember thinking I may have got myself involved in a dispute between my landlord and a former tenant, so I had to tread carefully.
"Umm., no. How did you get my phone number?" This was odd.
"Sometimes I come by to see if any old mail came for me. I saw your name. Googled it, and here we are. Oh shit, I didn't notice the time. It doesn't mean much to me anymore, but I'm wicked sorry if I woke you up. I hope you like the place. Oh, and careful about the knob on top of the banister. It's often loose. Maybe we'll meet some time."
"Yeah, no problem and thanks for the info. Have a good night." Creepy.
Sure enough, I tried the top knob right before I went to bed. Yup, it was loose.
The next morning I woke up with a slight hangover. I did the three S's (shit, shower, shave) and went downstairs to start the day. I had the rest of the week off so I didn't have any specific plans.
And then I noticed the TV was on.
I didn't remember watching TV last night. 99 percent of all TV shows were garbage. I only had it for the Patriots games so I very rarely have it on. Must have drank more than I thought last night. Oh well.
I opened the door and was pleased to see beautiful sunshine. It did feel like fall though as there was a nip in the air. I went down the driveway to get the paper and saw an note sticking to it which said, "Sorry to call you so late last night. I hope all is well. Sometimes I still get mail, so could you save it for me and maybe put it under the box or something? BTW: you have a crack in your kitchen window. Nothing big but you should call Joe *(the landlord) to have it fixed. I don't want him to blame you for it. Have a good one, Dan."
So I looked at the window, and sure enough, there was a crack. But It was a very tiny one that I had to stand on a couple of rocks nearby and strain my eyes to see it. Was he looking through the windows?
End of part two
"Damn. You have an eagle eye, my boy. You should be a building inspector or something." laughed Joe the landlord.
"I should hire you to look at all of my properties after tenants leave them. I'm sick of renting to college kids who put holes in the walls and stick toothpaste in them to hide the damage. Anyways, I'll have it fixed in a week or so."
"Thanks Joe. Sounds good." I replied to him.
Joe the landlord was a guy who seemed to be in his early sixties. Smelled a little like old scotch, but a nice enough likable fellow. Especially since he's giving me this place for practically nothing.
"OK Dan. Have a nice day and call me if you need anything else." and with that Joe got into his pickup and drove off.
"Yeah, he's a nice guy. I never had any problems with him."
I almost had a heart attack. I turned around and saw him for the very first time.
"You must be Dan. A pleasure. My name's Randy. Just came by to see how my, ha ha, replacement is doing. I'm glad to see he's fixing the window for you."
He seemed all right, but I remember feeling odd. There was something about this guy that made me uneasy. To this day, I can't really define it other than saying something wasn't right.
"Ah, yeah, nice meeting you Randy. How are you?" I nervously replied.
"Didn't mean to scare you. I'm good. I wanted to give you my name and address. Oh and don't worry, I'm no cheapskate. Here's some stamps. Could you forward any mail to my new address?"
Now I really felt weird. Shouldn't the guy have already notified the post office and changed his address with his contacts already but before I could ask he added:
"Yeah, the post office only forwards things for one year. And right now I have no phone so I can't make the address changes myself. There shouldn't be too many things to forward. And of course, let me know, if these stamps aren't enough. I'll pay you for any mailing expenses. How do you like the place so far? That shower pressure in the tub sure feels good huh? I got that from a special dealer who usually services only celebrities and politicians. Bet it feels really good in there!"
This odd feeling increased. This was a guy that I just met and he was talking with me about the shower? Very creepy.
"Yeah, it's good. And sure, I'll forward your stuff. It was nice meeting you but I've got to get to work." I found myself saying. I think I agreed to his request just to get him out of there.
"Thanks, Danny boy. (I hated being called Danny, but I let it slide). My last name is Laroe and I live at 34 Livingston Way. Thanks for helping me out. Oh, and sorry to hear about what happened at your last job. If it makes you feel any better, I know that bitch was lying about the whole thing."
I started to ask him how he knew about that, but then remembered that it was in the papers on the net, so it was easily accessed. So I just told him casually, "Thanks. Have a good day."
I then grabbed my mail and went back into the house.
"No problem, Danny! You need anything, just whistle! Ha Ha." Randy responded cheerfully.
In retrospect, I wish I had paid attention to my gut instinct. Maybe if I had done some research, I could have gotten out. But hey, hindsight is 20/20.
End of part three...