“Hans, how is it there? Please, can you be nice to that guy? U talk to him the way that he though that u want to beat with him. Now he is scared that u can even poisoned his food. Can u solve it with him? I payed 2 month after Michael (referring to “Michelle,” our previous flat-mate) and its hard to find someone to that room. Thanx a lot. He is a nice guy. Don't akt please as a mad man.”
I was tempted to tell Fuckface to shove it. This desire was overridden by the fact that if I didn’t at least try to make amends with Wally, the guy might leave, after which point Fuckface would surly seek to charge me for the empty room. I told homeboy I’d take care of it. I wrote Wally a letter saying we should talk. It evoked no response from him. I knew I had to go bolder. One afternoon, I knocked on his door. He opened it in his mustard-stained t-shirt.
“Hey man, I know we’re having problems,” I said. “But I really don’t wanna fight anymore.”
Wally stared at me from behind his reading glasses. I didn’t know whether he was gonna drop dead or bite my nose off. Suddenly, his face softened. The tiniest smile parted his lips.
“I don’t exactly want to fight also,” he said. “Let’s just agree on this.”
A sense of calmness pervaded our flat. Wally now worked nights so I never saw him. I had the whole joint to myself. This was great because it meant I could let the lunatics hiding in my bones out. I walked the halls naked. I drank with abandon and banged out poems on my computer. When I took showers, I sang songs. Many of them were about Wally. My favorite was one I entitled “WWFF.” It went something like this:
“Wally! Wally! Fat Fuuuck! Fat Fat Fuuuuuuuk! Fat Fuuuck! Fat Fat Fuuuuuuuk!”
Once, while I was in the middle of howling this little ditty, I had a lucid moment. I wondered what I, a thirty two years-old man, singing “Wally! Wally! Fat Fuck!” to himself in the shower, might look like to another person. The thought terrified me at first. Then a thousand screaming hands ripped it to pieces. I collapsed in the shower, laughing. The entire flat filled with my laughter.
After that, I was downright happy. Wally’s crummy little peccadilloes couldn’t get to me. I dusted the sound of him cooking at 2 am off my shoulders. I snubbed my nose at his blanket of back-hair covering the tub. His cigarette smoke went in one nostril and out the other. Even his hacking, his infernal fucking hacking, was reduced to a mouse fart. I was a mad king in an empty castle. Wally just rented a candle flame.
One Tuesday, I came home from work, whistling. I opened the door to my room and strolled in. Just then, I heard a stirring in the hallway. I looked back and saw Wally standing there in his sweats. My veins hiccupped.
“What are you doing home?” I asked.
Wally frowned miserably and bumped the floor with his big toe.
“My boss is a shit,” he said. “Just today, he fired me.”
“Yes, can you believe this? He didn’t ever give me a notice. Only today came to me and fired. What will I do now? Go back to Lebanon? There is always war. I will for sure be in streets with a machinegun.”
The thought of Wally lumbering through the streets of Beirut with a machinegun was disturbing. The thought of him hanging around our flat all day every day until he left, was equally disturbing. I asked if there wasn’t another job he could find. He shook his head slowly.
“It will be very, very hard. I am only IT guy and there are many in Prague. Plus, I am from Middle East. Employers prefer Czechs or Slovaks because they will stay here. I was lucky to find this one job, which I had.”
“Well, don’t you know anyone here?”
“Not one person. I came here for experiment, that’s all. Now, I am seeing it is a shit. I will try to find something for next three weeks. If I don’t, I will leave to Beirut.”
I felt bad for Wally. But three solid weeks of him piddling around our flat in a mood would be a nightmare. I wondered if Fuckface knew of any available jobs (preferably with long nightshifts). I got online to ask him. When I clicked open my post box, I saw I already had an email from him. In it he complained that Wally still hadn’t paid his second month’s rent. I went to Wally and asked him about this. He told me he’d already given Fuckface a deposit, which he’d use to pay for his last three weeks. This seemed fair given the circumstances. But if I knew Fuckface, he was counting on that money to party with in The Gulf for his honeymoon. I knew he’d come back furious. Even still, I advised Wally to stick with his plan.
I was certain Wally would be grumpier during the following weeks. I was also certain he’d be more demanding. What I didn’t account for was him becoming particular to the point of weirdness. The crap he pulled was almost breathtaking. For starters, he began separating his garbage. He’d put it in a knotted trash bag next to the can. From there he went on to separate more of “his things.” He put his fruit on the windowsill, his dishes on the counter’s edge, his soap in the top cupboard, and his sponges in the bottom. He even went so far as to throw away my vegetable container. When I asked him about it he said:
“I’m sorry, but your vegetables were too close to mine and making them stink.”
I tried to choke this all down. It kept getting worse. One night I was walking to the bathroom. Wally opened his door and scowled.
“Do you have any big soft sandals?” he asked.
“Yes. When you walk by my room it’s waking me up.”
“But I wear socks!”
“This is not helpful. The tiles are old and loud. You must wear big soft sandals.”
I told Wally to shove his “big soft sandals” up his “big soft ass.” I hoped that would shut him up. The fucker just got weirder. He started demanding I keep the door to my room completely closed “at all times.” I told him that was insanity.
“Why the hell should I do that?!” I asked.
He pretended not to hear me. I yelled my question at him again. He poked his head in my room.
“Don’t ask why,” he said. “Just do it.”
“I’m not gonna shut the door to my room every time I take a piss!” I said.
“No? Then you are clearly an uncivilized Bedouin!”
“Ha! I’ve partied with Bedouins in the deserts of Egypt. They are nice people. I’m glad to have you think of me as one!”
My defiance infuriated Wally. In an effort to demonstrate what he expected of me, he started slamming his own door just to use the toilet. He even took to locking it.
What in Christ’s name is his deal? I thought.
One evening, just before Fuckface returned from Dubai, I was at the stove cooking. Wally opened the kitchen door and walked up next to me. He poked his nose over my food and sniffed. Then he licked his lips.
“I’m going to be frank with you,” he said. “And I want that you be honest.”
“Have you been entering my room when I’m not home?”
My knees buckled. I almost dropped to the floor laughing. It took me a few seconds to cringe away the smile.
“Absolutely not,” I said.
“Well, what about your friends? Or those girls you bring home? Do you think they have entered my room?”
“Why on earth would ANYONE go in your room?”
“I don’t know. Nothing is missing. But I am ninety nine percent sure they are entering.”
“I won’t tell you this. But I know for sure. Anyways, if it is not you or your friends, it is probably old tenants who have keys and are coming in, or possibly strangers who made copies. You should be very careful.”
I was stunned. Any attempt to make sense of Wally’s horseshit was now futile. I needed a witness to prove I wasn’t going insane. I called up my childhood buddy Bert, who also lives in Prague. He answered the phone, chewing.
“Zhuuuuuuup?’ he said.
“Hey man, you know that Wally guy I’ve been telling you about who’s my new weird-ass flat-mate?”
“Well, dude I think he’s going crazy.”
I proceeded to give Bert a detailed account of the past two weeks. He laughed his balls off the entire time.
“I gotta meet this guy,” he said.
I told him it would have to been soon. Fuckface would be arriving that weekend and would surely want Wally out by the end of the following week. We agreed Bert would come over that Saturday. We’d drink it up in the common area and hope for a chance encounter with Wally. Bert ended the conversation with a single statement.
“I wanna see a show.”
Saturday came. I waited in front of the grocery store for Bert. We were gonna select that evening’s beverage. Then go up to the flat, have a few and see what transpired. As I stood there fixing my coat, a figure appeared. He was whoofing up the hill his sunglasses. His gut was jiggling and his titties were flapping. As he got closer, I realized it was Wally. I gave him a curt “hello.” He gave one back and walked up the ramp to the grocery store. Just then I saw Bert come around the corner. I pointed to Wally and mouthed “That’s him!” Bert brought his teeth out and laughed. He walked up and we went in the store together. As we passed the produce, I said:
“Should we try and talk to him?”
We rounded the corner. There was Wally scowling at a container of yogurt.
“How’s that shit lookin’?” I asked him.
He glanced at me and sneered. He put the container back and walked off. Bert and I cracked up into our fists. Then it was off to the alcohol section. We bought a bottle of whiskey and brought it up to the flat. We started drinking and chatting about travel. The idea of going to Olomouc the following weekend came up. We’d both had it with Prague and needed to get out. We agreed we’d split the coming Friday. This put us in fantastic moods. We broke out the iPod dock. The tunes blared and the drinks poured. Soon the entire common area was swollen with good vibes. Then the kitchen door opened. Wally marched in wearing nothing but flannel. A storm cloud rumbled and flashed above him. He dragged his rain right through the middle of our party. He went to the windowsill (where his fruit was) and snatched a banana. As he turned back around, I rose. I looked him in the eyes and winked.
“How ya’ doin’ there, guy?” I said.
He walked past me without saying anything. He left the kitchen and went to his room. After his door shut, Bert laughed.
“Dude, he knows you’re fucking with him,” he said.
“I don’t care. He’s not just gonna come in here and shit all over our good time. Seriously, man, I’ve had it with him. But whatever, I wanna have fun tonight.”
Bert and I tried to reanimate the good vibes. The minute they came back, so did Wally. This time it was to wash out his coffee mug. As he scrubbed away at the sink, I approached him.
“Hey, bro, what’s your deal?”
Wally didn’t answer. He just continued scrubbing. When he finished he brushed past me. As he reached for the door handle, I said:
“You just gonna ignore me?”
He turned and shot me a look. It crippled the remains of my good mood. I still had the wherewithal to keep it together. I stood there, clenching my jaw. Wally opened the door. He stepped past the threshold and slammed it. The blowback knocked my bones loose. Rage welled up in me like a charging tiger. I threw open the door and caught Wally in the hall. He stopped walking and turned to face me.
“YOU MOTHERFUCKER, DON’T YOU EVER SLAM THAT FUCKING DOOR AGAIN!” I screamed.
Wally dangled his arms and blinked.
“I was the wind,” he said.
“BULLSHIT! YOU SLAMMED IT! YOU DO THAT AGAIN AND I’LL NAIL YOU TO THE FLOOR!”
He left without a word. I went back to the common area and sat down. Bert’s face was in a state of shock. I reached out and clinked my drink against his.
“Was that enough of a show for ya’?”
“Haha, yeah, but now I’m worried.”
“I don’t know, there’s something about that guy. Like maybe he holds it all in. Then one day, BOOM!”
“He ain’t gonna do shit. Let’s just get back to it.”
We tried to “get back to it.” The mood was officially spoiled. We kept thinking Wally was gonna kick the door open and blast us apart with a machinegun. Lord knows, we probably deserved it. The entire common area was silent. It stayed that way for a while. When we thought the coast was clear we started drinking again. The alcohol made us sentimental. We began to feel for the poor sap. He had just lost his job, after all. We contemplated inviting him to drink with his. Miraculously, he returned. I glanced at his hands to see if there was a weapon there. When I saw there wasn’t, I said:
“Hey Wally, wanna drink?”
“No,” he said. “I don’t drink alcohol.”
He filled a glass of water over the faucet. He looked absolutely miserable.
“Hey look man, I’m sorry about what happened,” I said.” It’s just that you slammed the door and I lost my temper.”
“Well dude, at least come and chill with us. If you do, I’ll light up the hookah.”
Wally’s eyes sparked. A grayness behind them drowned the sparkles. He set his glass down and looked at me.
“I can’t,” he said.
“Because. I don’t know how to talk with people. When I do, it is just shit coming from my mouth.”
His words were like a long needle. They popped my heart and sent it withering to the ground. I wanted to tell him he was wrong. All I could muster was:
Wally told us to enjoy our night and walked out. Six days later, Fuckface kicked him out. He left Prague jobless, friendless and penniless. I pray he’s not in the streets of Beirut with a machinegun ...
Note: I reserve the right to occasionally alter the character names, descriptions, and/or event details in my posts for the purposes of identity protection and “fluidity of story.” If this puts a kink in your panties, read someone else’s blog, homey.