Back Rent

If every story has a soundtrack, this one would be "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer."

"Ah, I don't know man, ah, she kinda funny, y'know?" Yeah. I know. Everybody funny. Now you funny too.

Back Rent by Patrick Thomas

You have two days to pay up your back rent, or pack your things, and move out. That was the note from the landlord. I handled that situation like I handled most all my problems. By taking a nap.
After I woke up from my nap, I realized my problems were still there. I had about one week’s back rent, I could pay, but I owed for almost a month. I didn’t have any food either. But that wasn’t new to me. I looked back. How could my money have disappeared like that? I had gotten a check from my mother, the angel; my mother had sent me $1,500 not one month ago. That was supposed to pay my rent for three months! Now here I was, not one month later, almost totally broke and owing money toward my rent. My mother, the angel, had given me the money, so I could work on my masterpiece instead of working that 9-to-5 thing. I hated that 9-to-5 thing; it wasn’t for me. So I had phoned my mother, the angel, and she sent me a nice little check so, Paul Henderson, the great author, could focus on his work.

But where did the money go? When I received the check, I ate at the best restaurants for a few days, taking out several women, impressing them with all the money I had. After they wouldn’t sleep with me, I was forced to buy $50 blowjobs, four $50 blowjobs. I also had to buy a great new laptop, so I could write; all the best authors had new laptops to write on. The problem was that I hadn’t written any new stories, only several emails to my editor. Well the editor of my only printed story, “Denial,” the story of an alcoholic that refused to do anything about his alcoholism. It was my story, and I worshiped every word of it. It had been published in an online zine.

So, I was broke, I had pissed my money away on shit I didn’t need, and on whores. Just because I was sober now, didn’t mean I made the best life choices. 

I took my new laptop, the great writing machine, to the pawn shop. I wasn’t happy about pawning it, but it wasn’t the first time I had to sell something to pay for something else. I figured I could get at least last months back rent. I had paid $1,000 for it, so getting $400 back wouldn’t be a problem.

Unfortunately, the pawnbroker’s heart was blacker than my landlord’s soul, and he didn’t care that I needed money desperately, and he only gave $150 for my superior writing machine. I still needed $250 to pay for my back rent, and rent was due again in a couple of days.

I sat on a park bench, thinking about how I could get money. I knew my old roommate, John, owed me $100, so I could collect from him. But that would still leave me short. I lit the last half of my last cigarette; I took one deep drag, and dropped the cigarette in the puddle from the rain from the night before. That one drag was unsatisfying, as unsatisfying as a whore’s $50 BJ. And then, I prayed. Not that I believed in anything, but I figured what would it hurt.

I knocked on the door of my old place, John’s house. John answered the door, pretending to be excited to see me, but he could tell by the look in my eyes why I was there.

“I need that money you owe me, John.”

“Paul, baby, I don’t have it.”

“John, don’t play with me, I need it, bad.”

“I don’t have it. What do you want me to do? I could give you a quarter of this killer bud, I got. Is that cool?”

“Dude, you know I don’t smoke anymore, kinda goes against that whole sobriety thing.”

“I don’t know what to tell you.”

“Can I at least bum a smoke?”

“I’m fresh out, baby.”

I was upset, but what could I do? I started walking away, and when he went back inside, I went back to his front porch, digging through his ashtray, looking for half-smoked cigarettes. I found a few; I put them in my empty pack, lit a longer one, took a drag, coughed because it was so stale, and walked away.

I had to avoid my apartment, because I knew my landlord would be on the lookout for me. So I wandered the streets. I approached a couple of business-looking people, you know, to bum a few dollars off of them, but my pride got in the way, and I walked off feeling disappointed in myself.

Eventually, nightfall came; I stood outside a gas station, gripping the pocketknife I kept in my pocket. Was I seriously going to rob a gas station with a pocketknife? I took the last drag of the last half of the last stale cigarette I got from John’s ashtray, and flicked it out on the street. I took a deep breath and walked in the store.

Patrick Thomas, is a professional derelict. He enjoys spending his days napping, reading, and committing petty crimes. He suffers from identity disorder, so you can find some of his work under a different name.