Blackhumouristpress's Blog

October 8, 2010

Section 8 or Happy Endings in Paradise

Horace owned an apartment building that housed close to thirty families on a side street just north of Devon Avenue between California Avenue and Kedzie in Chicago.  For most people, these coordinates mean absolutely nothing.  What you need to know is that it was a launching pad into Americana for fresh off the boat European Jews, Indians, Pakistanis, Croatians and Koreans with a smattering of Latinos from various Central American countries. 

            Horace inherited the building from his father who had purchased it upon moving to the United States from England.  Horace’s real name was Armitage Cockfoster III.  There were two other Armitage Cockfosters before him and a string of others going back to the days of feudalism.  In honor of one of Horace’s relatives who was viscount, they named the last stop on The Underground after him.  If you take one of the lines going out towards  nowhere, The Tube train has a sign on the front that reads; Cockfosters.

            All the tenants knew was that they paid there check to A. Cockfoster Management Inc. and their logo was a rooster on a weathervane.  Horace never told his janitor or any of the tenants that he was in fact Armitage Cockfoster III.  This mysterious entity who was supposed to be living in London always scared the janitor into complying with Horace.

            “Dwight…  Mr. Cockfoster received a most inarticulate letter from a Mr. Leviticus Israel regarding a plethora of inadequacies in his unit.  Mr. Cockfoster has dispatched me to determine what is necessary and what is bogus.  I shall be at the building later this afternoon,” said Horace.

            Dwight, who was named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, was actually born and raised in Romania and received the name Dwight after General Eisenhower had traveled through Bucharest after World War II.  General Eisenhower took a picture with Dwight’s father and had a bite of a pastry and a sip of coffee.  Both are still in a sub zero freezer and have been determined to indeed have Dwight D. Eisenhower’s DNA on the pastry and coffee.

 Dwight Iliescu was smoking a cigarette out in front of the building and nervously groomed his bushy moustache with his thumb and index finger.  He flicked the cigarette into the street as Horace pulled up in his Jaguar with a Union Jack sticker on the back.  Dwight thought Horace was a mealy mouthed little yes man for some fat cat sitting in a comfy chair in front of a fireplace somewhere in the English countryside, sipping Scotch and petting one of several bloodhounds.  That kind of stuff only happens in movies.

            “Meester Horace…  Let me say to you something before we go up.  These people are animals.  They are dirty people who cause this problem for themselves.  These guy can’t even talk English.  Everything motherfuck this motherfuck that.  You see for youself.  He’s home now.” Said Dwight.

            “Don’t they work during the day?”  Asked Horace.

            “Boss, nobody works.  You work and I work so that they can stay home and don’t do shit.  That’s how it work, boss.  Come on.” Said Dwight.

            They climbed a staircase that squeaked and flexed.  The hallway smelled of spices from India and urine.  The forty watt refrigerator bulbs helped to set the dismal mood of the run down building.  Horace did what was necessary.  Much of what needed to be done for the sake of humanity was optional in Horace’s opinion.

            The door opened and a smallish black man of possibly forty years of age, opened the door and genuflected as if he were ushering royalty.  Mr. Israel had no idea he was actually in the presence of some sort of periphery royalty and that’s the way Horace liked it.

            “Yeah…  I done sent an email to that Mr. Cock…  Cock…  Whatever his last name is.  Far as I’m concerned it cain be Cocksucker cause he ain’t spend a fucking nickel on this bitch.  Who you now?”  Asked Leviticus.

            “Horace Spencer…  I have been sent by Mr. Cockfoster to see what your complaints are so that we can avert any issues with Section 8,” said Horace.

            “Kay…  Follow me…  You see them motherfucking baseboards?  That there some Tom and Jerry bullshit.  Look at the size them fucking holes!  I got them stuffed up with steel wool but them motherfuckers cain chew threw anything.  I done come out the other day an they looking at me dead in my face.  I done stomped my feet and they just look at me like I’m crazy.  Well I come home the other day an my two boys got one them rats on a goddamn glue board and the pouring bleach on the motherfucking thing in the bathtub and it screaming and then my wife an daughter was screaming and I was ready to just clean out the whole motherfucking place.  I went and got my 22 and shot the thing in the head.  Now I will pay to fix the damage to the wall.  The shell got lodged right here and I done took it out already.  So I know Dwight brought up some Mexicans to put some shit in the corners but them rats are fucking sharp.  They ain’t eating that shit when they cain chew through the cabinets and eat themselves some Captain Crunch…  Okay next,” said Leviticus.

            The three men walked into the living room where Leviticus pointed at the ceiling.  Horace was mystified by the huge Star of David that hung from a thick and expensive gold chain from Leviticus’ neck.  Leviticus wore a long sleeved polyester shirt that was unbuttoned to the middle of his chest.  Horace was familiar with Sammy Davis Jr. but was not aware of any other black Jews.  Truth was that Leviticus married a devout Jewish woman and changed his name so that he and the children and wife, would all be Jewish together.  Israel and Leviticus were adopted names.  His real name was Ronald Smith even though nobody called him that any longer.

            “Look at that ceiling…  Okay…  They students up there, right?  Indians and they do some kind of dance and light up some shit that burn my eyes an my kid’s eyes.  The kids be crying.  I went up there an toll them they breaking my ceiling and to quit lighting that shit up.  They do what they fucking want.  Crazy ass fucking music at all hours … One time I go up there an they got a fucking octopus looking thing on the floor an they all smoking out this thang.  I toll them they gone push me too far.  You best talk to them Indians cause we gone have a problem soon,” said Leviticus.

            “Are we talking about east or west Indies?”  Asked Horace.

            “I don’t know nothing bout which side they come from.  You got the 7-11 Indians and you got yo casino Indians in a fucking tee-pee fighting with John Wayne, okay?  Upstairs they the quickie mart Indians.  They cook some crazy shit and smoke some stuff I ain’t never smelled before.  I smoked weed in my day an this ain’t no fucking weed that I know of.  Anyway, you talk to them and I need this shit fixed cause I don’t need no fucking plaster falling on my family, ya dig?  Okay next…”

            The three men then moved into the bathroom where flies clung to rust colored stains on a bubbled wall.  Horace blinked hard and shook his head.  Horace understood that the damage meant a leaking sanitary pipe in the wall.  The cost to fix was going to be possibly hundreds or a thousand.

            “Them flies love shit and shit coming down the motherfucking walls from the inside.  Now I cain smell the shit an piss.  You cain’t smell that now cause my wife done bleached the shit out the walls but it will come back.  Now y’all cain fix this or I cain call the city an then Section 8 ain’t gone pay shit, y’dig?  Now I know y’all ain’t got rats, dancing Indians and shit rolling down the inside y’ walls at yo place.  I’m tire of Dwight here always telling me he gone fix this an fix that.  I cain tell you his lazy ass don’t do shit round here.  If it weren’t for the fucking Mexicans this place would look worse than it do.  You wanna keep Dwight, that’s Mr. Cocksucker’s bullshit to work out with y’all.”  Said Leviticus.

            “Fuck you, you fucking guy…  Who you think you are?  I work more in one day than you work in you whole life!”  Shouted Dwight.

            Horace stepped between the two men.  It was at that moment that he noticed a hole in the wall behind a poster of The Power Rangers that was twenty years old, torn and curling enough to show a fist sized hole in the wall.  Horace pulled the poster back to discover the hole.  Leviticus quickly explained the damage.

            “Okay now this here a touchy subject cause I done toll my wife you cain’t be hammering on them walls less you know where the studs are.  So she wanted to hang a religious thang there an I toll her to wait til I cain git to it an she tried and made that hole.  I will pay this out my own pocket but I wish not to discuss this in the presence of my wife cause she will git violent an I don’t need that shit.  I got nough problems without having to fight over walls, y’dig?  So I will cover this one but y’all gone hafta roll up y’sleeves and git this shit done lickity motherfucking split cause I done had nough.”  Said Leviticus.

            Horace made a few notes on a note book and told Leviticus that he would get back to him shortly.  Leviticus told them both men; god bless.  As Horace and Dwight walked down the stairs, Horace read an email from his realtor on his Blackberry.  There was a cash offer for the building that was thirty percent lower than what the market value was just a year earlier.  All Horace caught was Dwight’s question about what he thought could and should be done.  Horace massaged his temples and looked across Devon Avenue where there was a neon sign on a Korean restaurant that advertised live barbeque.  The sign flashed the word Paradise. There was a massage parlor behind the restaurant for happy endings. Horace said the word out loud and smiled.  Dwight didn’t understand the comment.  He lit a cigarette and watched as Horace drove off in his late model Jaguar and then spit on the ground.  Dwight said to himself in Romanian inside his own head.

            “If this is paradise, what the hell is hell?”

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