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Homeless 0-32: Creaking Floorboards

The landlord was late. I knocked on the door and waited in that self-conscious way I have, feeling like I was trespassing. I might have the wrong address, it’s happened before. I double, then triple check, then mosey around back for a look-see. Plastic-wrapped couch. Cracked concrete parking pad. Low cyclone fence, painted black.

A car came zooming down the alley then, and the landlord emerged, apologizing, reaching to shake my hand. The actual walk through didn’t take more than five minutes. Moving detritus everywhere. A kitchen crudely made-over, designed to look great in a photograph, laid out like a galley, a frozen encumbrance to navigation in practice. What might have once been a dining room transformed into a nook. What must have once been a living room, cut up into a way too small dining room and an equally too small living room.

A twisting stairway, two turns bottom to top, every stair screaming with every footfall. Upstairs, three bare rectangular rooms, featureless. Lonely, battered closet space. Two full bathrooms, each remade with HomeDepot plastic that was supposed to look like fine marble. Jacuzzi tubs? A playing card-sized hole in the master bedroom floor. Every footfall screaming “Cheap!”

”You seem to have some floorboard issues in this house,” I finally noted.

”Well, this place was built in 1939!” he replied, as if that justified anything. The floors were a lot newer than 1939, installed, I suspect, by some weekend carpenter who worked as a bureaucrat for his day job.

The neighborhood was hobbled by dead end and one way streets. I circumnavigated for a full fifteen minutes before finding an appropriate entry into the grid. The house was situated on a very busy corner, and it was the start of rush hour, and there was a lot of rush and noise. Even if the floorboards had been silent, there’s no way I could imagine myself living in that place.

Home seeking turns out to be one of those games where individual moves mean nothing, and maintaining momentum might mean everything. Places appear as they appear, might as well spring from a random home generator. Most won’t prove suitable, but again, this doesn’t matter. Just gotta keep a hand in the game: search, find, look, reject until an acceptable one appears. No way to know how long the searching might continue, and no way to know when I’m getting close. Another faith-based initiative leading to a negotiated settlement.

Creaking floorboards guide the way.

©2012 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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