By Tim Mollen
Journal entry: January 17, 1996 (age 26)
I’ve been living in the Washington, D.C. area for about three years, and a few months ago I moved into a tiny room in a modest house in Falls Church, VA. I share a bathroom and a kitchen with a woman we’ll call “Jennifer.”
Jennifer took out the ad for the room rental. Jennifer accepted my references and security deposit. Jennifer collects the rent, in the form of checks made out to her.
Unfortunately, it turns out that Jennifer does not own the house.
This interesting fact came to light earlier today, when Jennifer’s mother came into town unexpectedly. She, in fact, owns the house, and has been renting it to her daughter. Naturally, Momma was quite surprised to learn that her daughter had taken on a boarder, and had not been passing along the rental income. I gathered this information amid the obscenities being shouted outside my bedroom door. The argument led to Jennifer’s packing a bag and leaving the house, probably for good.
Hmm. Now I was alone in a house with an angry landlord who: (a) has never met me, (b) never intended to be a landlord, and (c) knows more words describing sensitive areas of the anatomy than a mortician at a naval shipyard.
I put on my nicest “aw shucks” grin, and sheepishly crossed the threshold from my room into the main living area. After a chilly silence, I introduced myself to Momma. Momma nodded, and on her way out of the room, she introduced me to her boyfriend, who we’ll call “Waco Gus.” Waco Gus is a leathery, intense-looking man in his 60s who wears filthy denim clothes and a pair of crocodile-skin cowboy boots. He invited me to sit down with him for a chat and a beer. Sensing that this was more a command than an invitation, I took my seat on the couch.
Gus handed me a can of Schlitz, and sat down next to me. He didn’t say anything. After a minute, I tried to get things rolling. “So…what do you do, Gus?”
He regarded me with a cold eye, took a long pull on his beer, and croaked, “I’m a mercenary.”
I nodded earnestly for a moment, my open mouth sputtering. Gus went on to explain that he and Momma had just returned from South America, where he had been wrapping up a few jobs as a bounty hunter.
“No kidding,” I said. “I make copies. On a copy machine.”
Now that I had established my bona fides as a fellow thrill-seeker, Waco Gus really started to open up. In the ensuing 20 minutes, he described some of his adventures, most of which involved bordellos, scorpion bites, and the no needing of no stinking badges. He also shared that he had killed several men.
“I just saw Pulp Fiction,” I offered.
This brought our heart-to-heart to a close. I am now in my little room, playing Chris Isaak’s Forever Blue CD as softly as I can. I only have to stay awake 10 more hours until the U-Haul office opens.
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