Then Again, Maybe It’s Not All About the Money

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By John Evans

The setting is a small Midwestern college, the type that pretty much constitutes its own dot on the map, with brick-paved streets downtown, hardwood shade in the park, and colonial architecture peppered about campus. At its periphery: the house where you are presently sleeping, nestled between manicured quads and second-growth forests, a pastoral acropolis and the amber cornfields beyond. This house is, in contrast, a structure most easily defined as a festering sore bandaged with aluminum siding. Its insulation, for instance, is shredded newspaper. Winter heat circulates via a fan suspended from coat hangers affixed to a stained drop-ceiling above a gas stove with broken igniters. The walls are so rampantly mouse-infested, you’ve resorted to putting an overturned pot with peanut butter on it in the center of the flooded kitchen sink each night – a system devised because it’s easier to run the floating rodents down the disposal than to empty a hundred traps every morning before class.

Seriously.

On the porch is your blue 1975 Honda CB400F. Beside it sit a half-upholstered couch and a keg floating in ambient-temperature, mouse-free water. The yard appears to have been hit with a polyethylene cluster bomb of red and semi-transparent beer cups. The time is 7:43 am and you cannot ignore the fanatical banging at your front door any longer. You shuffle down the stairs wearing your blue goldfish boxer shorts, nothing more.

On the other side of the door is your landlord, and she is loud. She reminds you that city fire code prohibits upholstered, “indoor” furniture from being stored overnight on porches. You are also informed that it is against the law to park a motorcycle on the porch. Any kind of outdoor party is in violation of your lease agreement. And she has a good mind to go …read more

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