The empty apartment across the hall sat idle for at least eight months, perhaps even longer. Every month, after unsuccessfully showing off the place to prospective tenants, our slumlord lowered the rental price by $25. But, to no avail. He should have slashed $200 off the rent to start with. Our two-bedroom apartment is relatively cheap but the plumbing is crappy in the entire building. Unfortunately, our seven-unit apartment building only has six parking spaces. The last tenant gets shut out and has to scramble for street parking which is a pain in the ass.
There are slightly nicer apartments in the vicinity for substantially cheaper rent. Heck, I pass signs for dozens of empty apartments on my way to the coffee shop every fuckin' morning. If you really want to live in L.A. right now, you have a decent selection to choose from, but our neighborhood is simply overpriced because its on the fringe of Beverly Hills.
Our slumlord finally filled the other empty apartment a couple of months ago. That one sat vacant for almost six months. Too bad he didn't let us grow buds in the empty apartments to supply the local medicinal marijuana dispensaries. We all could have made some serious cash.
And today? I think a hot chick moved in across the hall. For the first time in almost a year, the entire building is full. I wonder how long they will last? The inhabitants in three out of the seven apartments keep rotating. There was a female rabbi who lived upstairs before she moved. I think it was the heavy ganja smoking from Nicky and Showcase downstairs that drove her away or all the screaming and drinking coming across from the twenty-something guys across the hall. For whatever reason, the female rabbi bailed. When I first starting dating Nicky, there was a freaky actress-type who lived up stairs in that apartment. She frequently made phone calls while pacing in the alley and often chain-smoked outside since we technically live in a non-smoking building. That would be tobacco smoking. The lease said nothing about ganja. Loopholes.
There's a female law student living upstairs in that apartment, and the world definitely needs more lawyers. We don't see her too much but she comes and goes at odd hours. She spends one night a week at the apartment, maybe two nights at the most and crashes with her boyfriend, who rides the lamest of motorcycles. It's one step up from a fuckin' moped. But he must have a cooler apartment because she's never here.
And then there's the chick with the BMW. She's going out with the dude who drives a hummer and has a DOD parking sticker on his car. I'm convinced that he's a spy and I haven't seen his hummer in a couple of weeks, so I gotta assume that he's down at Gitmo doing something to one of the suspicious looking occupants in the building across the way.
We live in a building in between two other similar buildings... six or seven apartments carved out of an elongated two-story structure constructed in the 1960s on plots that were original pre-war family houses which were razed and these ugly shit-boxes popped up everywhere. Sure there's a palm tree out front to spruce it up, but we're still in the middle of the slums of Beverly Hills.
The building to the left is where the singing actress lives (who used to smoke pot with us until she decided that Showcase and we were a bad influence on her pothead boyfriend who had no goals whatsoever aside from working in a marijuana dispensary so he can get free pot. They have since broke up and we never see her, but we hear her practicing scales and singing in the shower all the time when her neighbor's dogs are not raising hell in the backyard.
The building to the right has a broken down car parked in front and covered in a brightly colored blanket. Behind the covered car is a van with a PLUMBING painted on the side and a number below it. The paint is very faded and you can hardly make out five out of the seven digit phone number. I have never seen the sketchy van move in three years. Not once.
Anyway, some of the people who live next door are very shady individuals. They are up to something and have odd people of various ethnic persuasions stopping by at odd times. I know, because I'm up at odd hours and you can hear cars pulling up into the drive way and screeching off five minutes later. It could be a safe house or some sort of counterfeiting ring. Definitely criminal. Maybe political? Religious extremists? There's one elderly woman who constantly does the laundry. During the days, she waddles down the alley with a large basket of clothes and sheets and does that like four or five loads in a single afternoon. It could be as simple as all of these guys are dropping off their clothes and the old lady cleans them. Or it could be a great front for a dope smuggling ring. Or perhaps there's a brothel next door catering to Middle Eastern men and the old lady is washing all the sheets and towels from the previous nights jizz-fest.
Sometimes the older men stood in the alley by the dumpster and spoke on cell phones in different languages. Farsi? Who knows? I always had a feeling that as soon as they ended their calls, they tossed the disposable cell phones into the trash. That's why they made the calls outside. They definitely stick out because we live in a predominately Jewish neighborhood, even though there is a Catholic grammar school up the street. But seriously, what's up with the Plumbing van that hasn't moved in three years. I always wanted to look inside and see what's stashed in there. Weapons? Ricin? Hashish? Sex Slaves? Old VCRs?