Lesbian Landlady and the Shack of Roaches
When I was nine and in fourth grade, my mother attempted to become independent from Raul. You see, he was helping her pay the rent and other bills, so she kept him around even though he dislocated her jaw a couple of times and drove us home while drunk, probably not in the same evening, but who knows. My mom thought if we got a cheaper place to live, we could get away from Raul. So, she decided we would move from our two-bedroom, two-bathroom duplex to an efficiency with no stove, or living room. It was basically a master bedroom with a kitchen sink and a tiny refrigerator and it was attached to the landlady’s house. This was terrible because my mom learned very quickly that the landlady wanted to take Raul’s place.
That night, the landlady used her key to open the door between her house and our tiny efficiency. I think I was in the bathroom when this happened because I don’t remember seeing anything. I just remember hearing my mom yell. It was a combination of her angry yell and her scared yell. Then, I heard the door slamming.
I asked my mother what happened and she told me the truth. She said the landlady was drunk and that she was a lesbian. My mom told me she had “made a pass” at her. She didn’t give me the specifics on what went down during said pass, but I knew from watching TV that it meant the landlady had tried to hug or kiss my mom.
My mom put some boxes in front of the door to keep the landlady from coming in so easily. It was already dark and we really had nowhere else to go, so we slept in the efficiency that night. Sometime during the night, I had to get up to go to the bathroom. That’s when I saw the roaches. They were all over the bathroom. They scattered, like roaches do, when I turned on the light. I screamed and my mother came in. She let loose with a string of drunken sailor talk and said we were going to leave in the morning. And we did.
Raul wasn’t truly out of the picture yet. After all, he helped us move. I don’t think he understood my mom’s intentions. So, he came back the next day and helped us move back. Yep. One night was all it took to send us running back to Raul and the duplex on Taylor Street.
I said goodbye to my classmates in Mrs. Baxter’s class at Colbert elementary on a Friday. I told them I was moving and I would have to go to Hollywood Central since that was the school near my new home. I remember the teacher asking me if I liked my new home. I answered that it was “OK.” She took that as me not wanting to move. Like most teachers, she thought I was an average kid who lived in a house with an average family. No. The reason I said, “OK” is because we were moving to a one-room apartment that could only be entered through the backyard. I really didn’t want to talk about it.
We moved back to our duplex apartment on Sunday. Monday morning, I was back in my seat in Mrs. Baxter’s classroom with all of my classmates. I would call them friends, but most of them picked on me and weren’t really friends. So, I sat talking to a couple of people who didn’t make fun of my clothes or my mom’s rusted-out Chevy. When Mrs. Baxter saw me, she did a double take.
“What happened? I thought you moved?” She said.
“My mom changed her mind.” That was the reason I gave. It was kind of true. I left out the part about the roaches and the landlady hitting on mom.