Thursday, June 02, 2005

what da hell is his name, anyway???

i came home yesterday to find the fulton county marshall parked right in front of my parking space. after maneuvering my car around them, i backed up slowly into the space, fretful of what they could be there for. in my experience, marshals are around to either evict or arrest. i quickly scanned my brain for any evidence of recent transgressions before deciding i was innocent of anything they'd be there for.

getting out of the car, i walk towards the entrance to my apartment building. the driver of the marshall's car rolls down his window and says "we're not here for you."

"i figured that," i said hesitantly.

"we're here for your neighbor," he went on. i noticed then he was really attractive. i thought "they don't make the brothas anywhere else like they make them here in atlanta."

"i'm just glad i'm not the one getting tossed out this time," i said, my eyes glance up at the sky, which had been gray all day. then i looked at the ground, which had been wet all day. i glanced back up at the officer and said "this is a crappy time to get evicted. it's raining."

"we called the guy to let him know we were at his apartment about to evict him, but he said he couldn't leave because he was at work." the officer shook his head in disbelief, amazed the guy could remain at work knowing when he got back his stuff would be tossed out into a heap on the sidewalk.

"well, seeing as he's just lost his apartment, he probably thought it was a good idea to keep his job." the sarcasm was threaded through my voice, but luckily the marshall took no offense to it. by the time we said our good-byes, i was headed up the stairs to my apartment. on the way up, i notice the door to the guy's apartment open and some big sweaty white guy was tossing things unceremoniously into the stairwell. i instantly started to feel even more sorry for the guy at that point. funny, in the years i've been in the apartment, i never got his name. he was there when i moved in and that was five years ago, so he'd been living there at least that long. we'd always say hello if we saw each other in the stairwell or out by the cars, but the conversation never went further than that. my neighbor was a short and rotund man with pale white skin and a bushy beard. i figured he had to be between 40-50 years old.

what a fucked up thing to happen to a guy at that age.

i think this to myself as i step over his stuff, now partiallyl blocking my entry onto the next level of stairs. by the time i get to my apartment, i can still hear the guys in the apartment below, grunting as they shifted stuff around before tossing them out of the doorway. when i got into my apartment, i just dropped my things by the door and plopped down on the couch in the darkened living room, listening intently to the sounds of a person's home being torn apart and his future being torn into uncertainty. i felt helpless at that point.

the rain outside went from a light mist to the beginnings of a downpour. i sat there for what seemed like forever, trying to figure out what i could do to help this guy. i picked up the phone and called my mom.

"hello?" my mom's voice is like torn silk, smooth with a raspy edge because of her decades of smoking and drinking.

"wassup mom," i said, relieved to know she was home. i always get a little more paranoid when it rains and my folks are driving on the street. my dad was killed in a car accident on a rainy friday night, so i've never been able to shake the forboding that overcomes me on rainy days.

"what's going on?" she asks, concern in her voice because i usually don't call so early in the day.

"one of my neighbors is getting evicted and i've gotta do something, but i don't know what to do."

"is he there?"


"do you know a number where you can reach him?"

"no. i don't know him, mom."

"where are his things?"

"i'm not sure. i looked out back and i didn't see anything." as we're talking, i go into the bedroom and look out of the window. i can see his things piled up on both sides of the sidewalk leading to the apartment building. "oh, they're out front, mom."

"get his things and bring them inside. no telling who's already looking to take his things." at this point, mom's voice has gotten the authoritative tone to it, like she's about to start issuing orders. it's something i both love and hate about her.

"um, mom. my apartment is about as big as a gnat's ass. have you forgotten?"

"well, how much stuff does he have?" she inquired, the tone of her voice letting me know she didn't miss me cussing in front of her but deciding to let it slide this time.

"he's been living here longer than me, so i would think he's got a crapload of stuff."

"well grab what you can. i'm sure he'll appreciate it."

i instantly felt better.

i looked out of the window again after getting off the phone with mom and i saw some folks already perusing through the guy's stuff! damn, they don't waste any time the friggin vultures! my bedroom window was already open, so i just yelled really loudly "hey! those things don't belong to you and the owner will be here soon to get his things. i'm watching them until he gets here!"

the three men look up at the window, mouths agape at the surprise voice that appeared to boom down from the heavens. wait a sec, maybe that was a little melodramatic. they looked up in surprise at the voice of a woman shreiking for them to stop doing what they were doing.

they stood there for a minute, i guess at a standoff or something. were they trying to decide if they gonna heed what i said? i wasn't sure. either way, i wasn't about to let them go through and take my neighbor's stuff. i grabbed my keys and ran down the stairs to the front of the apartment building. bursting out of the door, i told them again to step away from his things. they continued to stare at me for another minute or so before deciding to walk away from the situation. i stood there a little frightened, cuz i didn't really know those cats and they could have just told me to go fuck myself and did what they wanted to do.

after expelling the breath i didn't realize i was holding, i looked at the disaster before me. my neighbor's stuff was everywhere. i didn't even know where to begin and it was starting to rain a little harder at this point. i just grabbed whatever i could carry and started heading upstairs to my apartment.

when i got down after the first load, my neighbor had pulled up and was walking around, surveying what had happened to his things. everything was soaked, as the rain had been a steady pour for a while at this point.

"i have some space in my apartment on the porch and you're more than welcome to use the space to store some of your things." i wasn't sure if he had even heard me cuz the look on his face was devastated and distant, like he couldn't believe it was actually happening. he looked at me for a moment.

"thank you so much for your kindness." i could tell he was fighting tears and i started to feel uncomfortable because i've never in my life witnessed an old white guy crying in front of me.

"it's aiight. let's get what we can so your stuff doesn't get ruined." we started grabbing things and taking them upstairs to my porch. after a couple of trips, one of our neighbors who stays across from me came down and started helping. next thing you know, three other neighbors pitched in. we ended up storing stuff on my porch and the porch of the neighbor across from me. despite that, there was still a shitload of stuff downstairs.

one of the people who was helping suggested we get tarp to cover what was left outside. my neighbor went to home depot while we started pushing stuff together so we could get as much stuff covered with tarp as possible. someone brought out some tarp they already had and covered his bed and mattress. i saw some tarp in a corner and covered some of his other things.

by the time it was all over, everything was covered in tarp and what wasn't covered was upstairs. the six of us were standing there, at last feeling a little better that we did what we could to alleviate the situation.

i gave my neighbor my phone numbers and he told me he would be back on friday to get his things. i told him i'll make sure i'm there so he can pick his stuff up.

then he walked away and i STILL didn't get his name.