Chapter 11 – The New Tenant’s Twin Boys and Remaking “The Shining”
Sinead and Declan left a vapor trail as they drove away from the house. I turned my attention back to the front door. Ajar, since I didn’t want to take a chance on shutting it, I turned the knob back and forth. Declan had done it again, but it did feel tenuous.
“Just a few hours,” I said to the doorknob. “I’ll have you out of here and into a hardware graveyard before the sun goes down.”
I turned around and watched four young men making their way up the brick steps that led to the front patio. I recognized the language they spoke as Russian.
Their four-way conversation became more animated as they climbed the 52 steps. It had to be the surprise of figuring out how hard the move would be. Fortunately, the house was furnished, save for a set of bunkbeds that my new tenant wanted to put in for her twin five-year-old boys.
They cleared the last set of steps and approached me.
“May?” The Alpha Dunce asked. I’m positive the question was directed towards me.
“June.” I replied, identifying the month of year in which we stood.
More Russian. My front patio took on the aspect of a Millennial KGB get together of the young agents too stupid to make the cut.
“It’s a joke, Vladimir,” I said. “Please come in. I’m the owner, George Young. May, the new tenant, and as far as I know, a woman, should be here shortly, but you’re welcome to get started.”
More Russian, but the World’s Dumbest KGB Wannabes took the offer and walked inside.
“Okay, we look around?” Asked Vlad.
“By all means. Let me know if you want access through the garage for anything.”
“Yes, it’s a big empty space where people park cars . . . or clutter up with possessions they have no interest in ever using again.”
Vlad stared at me.
“Another joke,” I said. “Why don’t I show you the access through the garage, and you can decide if might be easier than negotiating the steps for the next few hours.”
Vlad grunted, which is Russian for “We should have won the Cold War.”
May, and her nanny, an enthusiastic young brunette named Daisy . . . yes Daisy, arrived 30 minutes later. I had moved inside to make sure the KGB had everything they needed. Vlad et al had his cadre place the initial load in the main hallway and kitchen to await further instructions from May.
They did move the bunk beds upstairs. It was an IKEA set, so several boxes now sat in what had been our guest bedroom. Until May arrived their labors ceased. I looked at the cluster of containers with Vlad.
“Geez, Vlad, how many kids does May have?”
“She has twin boys.”
“So that would be two.”
He grunted, another signal the USSR should have won the Cold War.
“Look at all these boxes,” I said. “Does this really look like this is only one bunk bed?”
“Hmm. Bunk beds. What is it with Americans,” he asked. “Bunk beds remind me of gulag.”
“Or college living at Leningrad University?”
“No, that would be—”
“Oh, I think May just arrived,” I stated and sprinted out the guest bedroom; down the steps; and into the kitchen, where May and Daisy had landed.
“You must be George,” said a school-marmish woman with black hair and 60’s black-rimmed “I worked for NASA” glasses.
“Yes, and you must be May.”
We shook hands. Daisy and I introduced ourselves and she stuck her headset earplugs in about .2 seconds after our cordiality ended.
“I’m going to take a walk-through of the place and see if there’s any maintenance I can do while you get moved in.”
May was already distracted.
“And then I’ll take you around and show you a few things that aren’t quite intuitive such as the heater and the alarm system, though I have a hard copy of all the house instructions that I’ll leave behind as well.”
May was deep in discussion with the KGB flunkees.
“Finally, I’ll continue to talk to myself like a crazy person while I change lightbulbs, and scrub some of the moss off the walkway.”
May got moved in despite the KGB’s ineptness, which included their inability to navigate IKEA instructions for the bunk beds; their placing of the fold-out couch in the kitchen; and the gouging of the hardwood floor in the TV room.
May’s dog, Digit, peed on a Turkish AND an Iranian carpet. Both rugs were in the price range that included a comma in the number.
She did, however, find a cleaner that specialized in such. Not for the dog, for the rugs.
The next nine months were relative bliss. Any maintenance required could be handled long distance and May paid the rent on-time and actually prepaid the last six months in advance.
She also paid the water and electric utilities, which, given the two California utilities’ fiscal capabilities could be crushing.
Digit, however, did not inflict the most expensive damage on the house. Oh no. May’s twins, the outwardly adorable Tyler and Jasper, destroyed two $4000 deco chairs, the walls in their bedroom, the carpet in the hallway, an antique pie-crust table, a custom-made sideboard in the hallway, and the trash compactor.
Lee and I saw May one more time in January as 2019 kicked off with much promise.
I performed some more maintenance. May set the record for NOT being able to change a lightbulb. I replaced 19 of them. Not making that up.
I documented the damage done by the Brothers of Destruction, and it gave me pause, though we were planning on renewing the lease for at least one more year. We could keep the house on the rental market for three years and I wanted to give May as much stability in her life as possible.
And 2019 sped along very nicely. I even got a literary agent for my non-fiction book, Try Not to Annoy the Kangaroo: 35 Years Putting Up with Creative People in the Film Industry. And Lee and I went to Vienna in May for the Ball Season, something that had been on our bucket list for decades.
And then Elaine, the rental agent, called while I was working out in my apartment building’s gym. I saw the name pop up on my iPhone, which had been playing ‘Jumparound’ while I forced myself through the daily 150 sit-up routine.
I sent it to voice-mail. She had to be calling about renewing the lease, coming due in three months and Elaine would be in line for another commission check. May wasn’t inside the house for more than an hour back in June, when Elaine showed up and asked for the money. It was the most punctual and enthusiastic she’d been the whole time we had to deal with her.
Back in the apartment, I checked my messages.
“George, this is Elaine. Have you heard from anyone from May’s family? Call me when you have time.”
That didn’t sound good. I dialed Elaine’s number.
“This is Elaine.”
“Hi, it’s George Young returning your call. Please don’t tell me anything bad.”
“I take it no one from May’s family has contacted you?”
A long pause on the line, eclipsing any nine month gestation period.
“May died in the house last week.”
“I’m almost positive you wouldn’t make that up.”
Another long pause on the line, eclipsing any nine month gestation period.
Elaine filled in the details. May had been found by the nanny and one of the twins. The estranged husband had been notified and he went to the house to get the boys, the dog, the nanny, and who knows what else. Her family was in town for a memorial service. His family was already loading their muskets with lead shot and getting ready for the siege.
The next couple of weeks would put the Montagues and the Capulets to shame, particularly the
Montagues. No wonder Romeo killed himself.