In the immortal words of St. Jerome, "...we're in a pickle, Dick"
That's what I said to my husband a few months ago when the troubles began with a lady who rents a condo from us. My husband and I are not very good at this. Our first renter had to walk us through the lease proceedings, and I still think our paying for her monthly visits to a masseuse was out of the ordinary...But I Digress.
Ok, so we have this tenant. Let's call her Toni. Cause that's her name. Every month for three years I have had to beg Toni to get the rent check from her. She had a zillion excuses for being late and I have no way of knowing if they were true or not. The fact was, and is, that my husband and I are pushovers, plain and simple. And we liked Toni even though she nailed plastic grape vines to the ceiling and popped out the screen on the lanai and brought in a guy she met at the pool to fix the dishwasher. (He was about six feet tall and looked like a combination Mr. Clean/Bushman the Gorilla. He had tattoos everywhere )(I'm guessing at that really) (and he was on work release.) We paid him for work done already, asked him to leave, and then found our own repair man; however, I don't think the Luca Brazzi of the Palms Swimming Pool Association ever forgave us.
The last few months Toni's payments have been worse than usual, impossible you say, and you would be wrong. In addition she stopped answering her phone, and she rarely responds to text messages. According to what she's told us she's lost at least nine cell phones to theft, curbside flooding, or the thing mysteriously doesn't ring - unless I threaten her. I finally had enough and went banging on her door to find her at 10 a.m. with a bottle of whiskey before her and a big coffee mug.
Turns out Toni is going to prison. Holy shit. The girl is pregnant too, and she's in her 40's - it's not like she's a kid anymore. She was originally sentenced to 30 years for being in a car with a man who sold dope to an undercover cop. She swears she had no knowledge of what he was doing, just giving the poor guy a ride out of the goodness of her heart. Her sentence was reduced to three years and that was the story when I broke into the condo and confronted her.
Besides the preggers problem she also claims to have excruciating tooth pain and no funds for a dentist, a slipped disc in her back which makes it hard for her to walk; she gave up her dog because of going to prison then, when she was sobbing from delivering her dog to the new owners, was broadsided by an old lady (old ladies are like shingles in Florida, you can't get rid of them. They're everywhere). Her car is totaled, she has no job, she is pregnant, she is in horrible pain in her back and mouth and she's going to prison.
Well, we told her she could stay on until her court date when they would take her away. We are tough though - this was her last break!
The court date came and went and she's still there. They postponed taking her away because the law may be changed for people who merely accompany a drug dealer so they postponed the prison thing. She had another two months until her next court appearance. Could she stay? Now everyone told us to just kick her out, but did we?
Of Course Not - my husband and I are connected by an imbecile cord. We let her live there another month, but I did tell her she had to be out by March 14 because we were renting the place on April 1 and we have to wash, paint and delice. No problem, she said.
Then for the next three weeks I couldn't reach her - she didn't answer her phone, her texts, her door - nothing. She was holed up in there on March 14 when the painter was supposed to arrive, on March 15 when I taped a three day notice to leave or pay rent to her door, and on March 16 when I told her I was coming over with a policeman to get into the condo. I should mention here that the condo is a disaster. It is filthy with dirty dishes everywhere, clothes piled ceiling high in every corner, the carpet is black, the lanai is trashed and the cigarette smell in the place could gag the dead.
This morning Richie and I arrived at the condo with the police (I wanted the police there because I really didn't know if she was stable. In Florida a person is allowed to shoot anyone breaking into their house if they think they are in danger. I noticed however today the the policewoman stood behind Rich and I when we opened the door. Way behind.) I had no idea if Toni would be in there or not or dead.
You guessed it. She was. (There, not dead) She had been asleep on her couch, the place still looks like an explosion at a rummage sale and she had a blanket wrapped around her because she was naked. I went inside and Rich and the policewoman stayed outside.
Toni said she hadn't eaten in three days, she can't walk from her slipped disc and her face is swollen because now she chipped a tooth and it's infected. I was tough though - I have learned a thing or two about dealing with these deadbeat losers.
Maybe not. What we ended up really doing was buying her food for four days (the frig was completely empty), Rich bought her Aleve for the pain, and I'm going there tomorrow to help her sort through the junk. I can't wait to tell my best friend in Chicago all this. Diane had told me she'd love to tell Toni off. "She won't just leave the condo - she'll flee"
Wait until she hears I washed the dishes too.
Pray for us Colin, Amen