The Vernon St. Apartment — PART IV

Yes, this will be the final Vernon St. installment. This is a big ‘un. Twice the Peter for the same price. You are SO lucky.

Have you read Part I, Part II and Part III? These aren’t like the Commandments, people. You have to pay attention to them all.

Let’s do this thing…


Hours later, Squatter Joe and I returned to the apartment. Of course, we snuck through backyards so that we could get close enough to be sure that BB’s mother wasn’t there. (It was only later that we discovered that BB’s aunt was also in on the raid — she was married to a cop at the time.)

The first thing I noticed was a huge padlock that was now on BB’s door. You may remember this kind of padlock from such commercials as the one where they’d blast a lock with a rifle and it would still work. Of course all the bulletproofnicity in the world wasn’t going to help you if you put the latch dealie on backwards, so that enterprising young roomies could easily remove the screws and take the entire apparatus off the door in about 45 seconds. Or less.

The next thing I noticed was Leif.

Hold on… I’m going to need a moment here.

What I saw in the garbage that afternoon was not Leif. At least not the Leif that I knew. I fell to my knees and did my best Brando, “Look how they massacred my boy.”

Then Squatter Joe asked if I wanted to order a pizza. I did.

As we waited for the pizza, Squatter Joe told me that he’d make sure that Leif didn’t die in vain. He told me that Leif would fulfill his weed plant destiny. And apparently he did — later that night on a giant boulder behind the Commerce Society building.

Later that summer, a whoooooole bunch of Leif’s family came to visit the apartment.

Another of our friends started renting a room from us. Let’s call him WTT. WTT had another friend — let’s call him Chong. (Cheech would have worked too.) Chong apparently had quite a few Leifs of his own. And, after harvest day, he decided to take them for a vacation to the city. And he ended up staying at THE apartment.

Chong’s stash was about the size of a pillow. Probably not a pillow like on your bed, but at least the size of one of those pillows that they put rings on at weddings. Possibly even bigger. People, it was a lot.

One afternoon, as I was trying to finish an assignment for Organizational Behaviour, Chong began wrapping Leif’s friends in cozy little pieces of paper. Some would say he was rolling them in, I suppose. Chong was not a greedy dude, he was passing them out to everyone around. If the mail man had come, he’d have left with a little present too.

I didn’t partake, but I stayed in the room. Since this was university, let’s do a little math. 6 dudes. 573 joints bigger than a baby’s arm. I’m no mathelete, but that apartment got a bit smoggy. I’m also no expert on contact highs, but the 90 minute Organizational Behaviour class I attended that afternoon was one of my favourites of the year.

Speaking of Chong, his visit to the city wasn’t all smiles and dead braincells. Later that week, we all ended up at The Palace. (AKA “The Last Chance For Romance.”) At the time, The Palace was the bar that was open the latest. All the others closed at 2 am, but this place was open until 3 or 3:30ish.

So, it was the wee hours and a group of us were hanging out. A dude walked by and bumped into Chong. Now, I didn’t think it was physiologically possible for Chong to not be a mellow-good mood right at that moment. But, for some reason, he cursed the guy out. The guy DEFINITELY was not in a mellow mood, as he wheeled around and punched Chong in the jaw, dropping him at our feet. The guy then turned back around — his expression never changed once — and went on his way. Chong stood up, adjusted his glasses, rubbed his jaw, and resumed the position he was standing in, just before the incident.

10 seconds later, I was wondering if it had actually happened.

30 seconds later, I could swear he muttered “ouch.”

Weird things just seemed to happen at the Palace. On another similar-type evening, I was walking through a crowd of people to get to the stairs. Once again, two drunken angry ships passed in the night and bumped into each other. One was a preppyish dude, about three apples tall. The other was a biker dude that was built like a refridgerator with a head.

They accidentally bumped into each other. So, little preppy dude turned around, saw how huge and scary the dude was, and still said “Fuck you!” to him. The first thing that went through my mind was “Normally I wear protection, but then I thought, ‘When am I going to make it back to Haiti?” Bad idea jeans.

By this point, Biker Dude had taken a few more steps, so I was standing directly between them. Biker Dude turned around and (thankfully) realized it was little dude that swore at him. Like a shot, his hand flew over my shoulder and he poked dude right in the eye with his index and middle fingers. This wasn’t accidental. He then turned and headed upstairs, while little dude yelled out in pain. It was completely surreal. And, quite possibly, the most bad-ass thing I have ever seen.

As an aside (to an aside?) I ended up meeting up with the little dude the next summer. We were working at the same place. One day in the lunch room I asked him about it. He got angry and said something about wishing he’d see the Biker Dude again.

“Well, he’s an ex-freebase addict, and he’s trying to turn around, and he needs a place to stay for a couple months.”

The Palace was more than just violent sociopaths though. It was also home to more Cougars than Yellowstone National Park. (Please note that I have no idea if there are cougars in Yellowstone, I’m just really banking on the fact that you don’t know either.)

One night, CF and myself were waiting in line to get our coats from coat check. The lights were on and the place was closing. Suddenly a cougar roared up in front of us. She looked like what Courtney Love is well on her way to becoming. She stared us up and down. She more than undressed us with her eyes. She undressed us and stuck stuck feather dusters up our bums. She said, “Can I buy you boys a drink?” No, seriously. We mumbled something about coats and got the hell out of there. I wondered if even the shower from SILKWOOD would make me feel clean again.

[Wow. This entry has gotten away from me. Time to start winding it down…]

We loved our apartment, but the landlord didn’t love us. And neither did his “rat” that lived upstairs. Her name was Susan. No, that was her actual name. I change names to protect the innocent, not those with a stick up their– Well, you get the picture.

Susan was in her mid-20s, acted like she was in her mid-30s, and looked like she was in her mid-40s. We assumed that she was sleeping with the landlord. We assumed that everyone was sleeping with everyone else. Actually, we probably still assume that.

Susan did not like us. For years, I just thought that it was because she was so uptight. However, I now think I may have pinpointed a few reasons why she might not have been completely enamoured of us.

One such incident was something I like to call “Ernie Gate.” Susan had a “boyfriend.” His name was Ernie. We thought he was gay, but that’s neither here nor there. One evening, LS and I were leaving the apartment to go play some basketball. Our apartment was the bottom flat of a house, while Susan lived upstairs. Their steps lead to a door right beside ours. That night we heard Ernie tal
king at the top of the stairs. We then heard an “oops” and heard *thump* *thump* *ow!* and turned to see Ernie come tumbling down the stairs. and we’re not talking about two or three stairs here. This was a good, full set of stairs. 15 to 20 high. And Ernie rolled all the way down.

When he landed at the bottom, not far from where we were standing, LS and I were in shock. But, as soon as he moved around and seemed to be okay, we cracked up completely. Now, we are not normally ones to laugh at the misfortune of others. Seriously. But, we howled. Tears poured down our faces. We couldn’t stop and had to get out of there as quickly as possible. When Susan came down the stairs, she caught us laughing. That didn’t go over so well. Man, she was touchy.

Dude, I am giggling a bit right now typing this up.

The next incident that springs to mind was when our nude friend was back in town. It was 4 in the morning and he and his brother were in a rowdy mood. CF was in bed. I was trying to get people to crash. But, the brothers weren’t having any of it. While rough-housing, they bumped into CF’s door and woke him up. He yelled out some curses and tried to go back to sleep. So, of course, they did it again. Then again. I knew this was leading someplace bad, but couldn’t do much to stop it.

I was in my bed, directly across the hall from CF’s door when, I heard…


And a projectile whizzed over my head and hit the wall beside me. CF had taken an aluminum baseball bat and smashed through his door. A big shard of wood was on my bed next to me. I looked over and saw a huge split down the middle of his door.

Our apartment got real quiet, real quick.

However, Susan’s apartment upstairs got louder. I could hear her screaming, “I’m calling Chris (the landlord.) I’m fucking calling him!”

I knew that our time in this apartment was coming to an end.

Early the next moring, Chris called. I was half-asleep, but I do recall hearing, “I hope you don’t plan on renewing your lease.”

We didn’t. But, we still didn’t like being forced out.

As school ended, we all started moving our stuff out. We then discovered all the holes in the wall. My Dad bought a huge bucket of spackle and patched everything. EVERYTHING. He never once asked about the dart holes or cowboy boot holes in the wall. He’s good like that.

For all the damage we had done — and it was quite a bit — when we were finished cleaning and fixing the place up, it looked better than when we had moved in. So, we expected to get our damage deposit back. Chris flat out refused. We weren’t impressed, but we didn’t fight him on it.

Our lease wasn’t up until September, so we set about looking for subletters for the summer. But, Chris told us that we couldn’t. I can’t even remember why. It turned out that he wanted to totally renovate the entire house and wanted to start ASAP. Though, I’m not sure if he told us that at the time.

We told him that if we couldn’t sublet, we weren’t going to pay for the summer. It seemed fair to us.

Chris disagreed. He started threatening all kinds of legal actions. I thought he as bluffing. Until we started getting official-looking letters backing up said threats. Then some from Tenancy Boards and the like.

We had a choice to make. We could either pay lawyers to fight this, or just take the loss and move on.

This wasn’t an easy choice. It was nothing like trying to decide between LC and Kristin on Laguna Bach. The obvious choice is LC! Come on! Kristin is a trampoline. LC, while a little sun-weathered, is the better person. She wears inappropriate clothing sometimes and doesn’t mind sloppy seconds apparently. But, Kristin is going to sleep with your friends, their friends and quite possibly my friends. How is there any debate here?

(Yes, we got MTV Canada back on the dish and I just watched my first episodes of Laguna this weekend.)

We decided to cut our losses and pay Chris off so that we could move on with our lives.

Yes, we pussed out completely.

So, that is how our story ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. Your glorious heroes losing to an evil landlord.

We lived in other apartments, but it wasn’t the same. We couldn’t enjoy squalor or strippers like we once did. It was like a piece of or youth and innocence was lost forever.

There are times, like this week obviously, when I think about the apartment. LS and I discuss it every few months. We are like war buddies that both made it home. We only talk about the good times, never the sad ending. Sometimes our brain is the best editor when it comes to memories.

We’ll always love our Vernon St. apartment. Good friends grew closer. Real memories were made. We could never recreate those days, but we are certainly glad we experienced them.

Epilogue: Chris did end up renovating that house. It was gorgeous. Big windows. Hardwood floors. The house looked new when he was done.

One night, as renovations were wrapping up, a lone shadowy figure peeked in through the windows of the empty house. The figure marveled at how great the place looked. A smile formed on his face as memories of past happiness flashed through his mind. He realized that you really can’t go home again, but you certainly can remember the fun you had there.

He bent down, picked up a brick from beside the front steps, and threw it through the front picture window. Then he ran like a bastard down the street.

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