The next afternoon came. On my way up to the flat, I caught Junit trying to dip out before our meeting time. I told him I wanted my money right then. He threw up his arms and started rambling about damages.
“What fucking damages?!” I said.
“The couch has big hole. The carpet and floor have burn. Your desk has some marks.”
“What are you, a Japanese poet?”
“I don’t have time for these shits,” he barked. “Talk to Saafi about damages to agree what you vill pay.”
I left him on the street and went up to the flat. I found Saafi in the kitchen, wrapped in a blue sarong and thumbing garlic into a lamb shank. I asked her what the deal with the deposit was. She gave me a puzzled look and washed her hands.
“Didn’t you talk to my husband about this?”
“Yes! And he told me to talk to you.”
“Well, I guess I can tell you.”
“Tell me what?!”
“We can’t give you back the whole deposit. You’ve made too many damages.”
“Which damages are these exactly? Your husband recited a haiku instead of actually telling me.”
She dried her hands and flitted into the common area.
“There are burn marks on the carpet here,” she said, pointing to three tiny black dots. “And there is also one here in the couch. My husband says these are your fault. Is he right?”
It was true, these things were my doing. I had a hookah I liked to smoke out there when I was drunk and I’ll be damned if the little thing didn’t just spill a few lit coals every now and again. Still, the common area was a total dump. I could have let a herd of ponies stampede up in there and shit themselves to death and it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference. I rolled my eyes and smirked.
“Yeah, these are my fault,” I said. “So whaddaya want me to do, buy a new couch and install a new carpet? It’s just a few little burn marks. Christ, I already replaced this carpet once after my buddy burnt the first piece of crap.”
Saafi ran her long fingers through her wavy hair.
“Well, you can repair it?” she said. “I’ve found some leftover material from when you installed it.”
The thought of ripping out that carpet again made my toenails choke. I told her to show me the rest of the “damages” before I could make a decision. She led me to my room and started in. She pointed to a black smudge on the floor and a few pockmarks on the desk.
“Those were there before I got here,” I said.
“Oh really? And what about this?” she said, pointing out a frayed section of the rug.
“Jesus Christ, I don’t know. My chair may have done that but I can’t be sure. Anyways, are you going to try and pin every shit speckle and dead ant on me? This is getting ridiculous!”
“Hans, the truth of your damages is between you and God. If you are OK to neglect your holy duties then that is your choice.”
“I just mean God is watching you.”
“Is he now … Look, I don’t care anymore. The deposit I gave your husband was 7500 kc. Just nix 500 for the carpet, 500 for the couch and 500 for the horrendous display of negligence that is my room. Deal?”
She gave me a pitying look and clasped her hands.
“OK,” she said.
I collected my measly deposit and spent the next two days packing. I then celebrated my exodus with Bert through the weekend. That Monday, I went to Petr’s (and soon to be my) place. I signed the contract and dropped a few of my bigger bags off there. Instead of taking the bus back, I decided to walk around and explore the area. I found a small pub nearby that only served microbrews and a grocery store with better products than my crummy old Billa. I walked home smiling and packed the rest of my stuff for Bert’s. When I finished, I had a moment to myself. I ran my eyes over the contours of my room. The memories flooded my heart with sweet and painful water. I’d spent almost four years in that little hole. And even though its carpets were stained and walls were cracked and its furniture was rickety beyond belief, it still carried the laughter of a hundred good times, it still wore the cum, blood, spit and tears of all my exploits like a bum does his trusty old coat. My insides suddenly turned soggy. I buried my face in my pillow and cried.
Bert came by the next evening to help me move. I had a lot of junk, despite having dropped my big stuff off at Petr’s. I knew we’d have to take at least two trips. Since my funds were drained from moving, our only option was public trans. We grabbed up as much as we could and started off. I was carrying two giant backpacks (one in front, one in rear), two computers and a grocery bag filled with dishes. Bert was carrying two FRAKTA’s (71 liter IKEA bags) splitting at the seams with clothes, breakables, rugs, whatnot. We stomped down the stairwell, cussing and screaming and dragging all that shit. By an act of sheer will, we made it out the front door. On the waddle to the bus stop, the handles on my grocery bag ripped. I balanced it on top of my head carefully and stepped onto the bus. The adjacent passengers gawked at me like I had a cock growing from my chin.
After a full hour of tendon-snapping agony, we arrived at Bert’s. We dumped my things off there and left for the rest. On our way back to Žižkov, I got a text from Junit. He was demanding that I clean my room thoroughly before I leave.
“Oh fuck him,” Bert said.
I was tempted to write something to that effect. I refrained out of a desire to keep the peace. We arrived at the flat a few minutes later. Saafi was standing in the doorway of my room with a dustpan in one hand and half a metal broom in the other.
“These are for you,” she said. “I would appreciate it if you swept, especially under your bed.”
I snarled and took the items from her. I walked in my room and looked left. My bed was sans mattress and pulled to one side. A blanket of filth, speckled with candy, cracker and condom wrappers covered the floor underneath. I glared at Saafi and lifted my instruments.
“You really expect me to clean all that with these?” I said.
“Yes, I do.”
“Well, why can’t I just use the damn vacuum?”
“Because, it’s mine. And I don’t want you to break it.”
“Jesus Christ, Saafi, I won’t break it. Just please let me use it!”
She folded her skinny arms and pursed her lips.
“Sweep up all the big stuff first, then maybe.”
I wanted to tear my eyeballs out. I chucked the dustpan to the floor and started sweeping. Within seconds, big clouds of foulness mushroomed up around me. They crawled in my mouth and up my nostrils. They stung my eyes and gums. I moved furiously to get the job done. I could hear Bert snickering at me off in the corner. This lit my nerves on fire. I put my palm to the broom top and scraped it across the carpet.
“SON OF A BITCH!!!” I screamed.
A snag of metal had punched through my skin. I was dribbling blood from a sizable hole. I threw the broom against the wall and stamped my feet.
“CAN I PLEASE USE THE FUCKING VACUUM NOW?!”
“Not until you get all that mess up with the dustpan,” she said, pointing.
“Are you kidding me? I have a hand full of blood and a face full of shit. Can’t you just help me out a little bit?”
“No. This is your mess, you clean it.”
“And what if I refuse?”
“That would be immoral!”
My irises cracked. The taste of cruelty slid over my tongue like bile. One more snooty remark and I’d have unleashed it on her like so many locusts from Beelzebub’s maw. Fortunately for both of us, she had the mental wherewithal to keep her mouth shut. I swept up all the filth into the dustpan and handed it to her.
“You do the vacuuming,” I said.
With that, Bert and I left. As we walked down the stairs and out into the open air I could feel the claws of that poisonous flat unhooking themselves from my organs. A wave of pure relief washed over me. Four years of compounded anger started to split and crumble. I breathed in deeply and let my arms sag. Bert just threw his head back and laughed.
“That place sucked ass till the very last minute!” he cried.
“It did, indeed.”
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.