Sunday, December 1, 1996

Letter to a bad tenant

Justine Onta, for you,
I cleaned my house,
and put new sheets on the bed,
I took care of all the details
to ensure your pleasant stay.
In return, you were to complete small tasks,
pick up the mail, post the bills, water the plants.
I even sent you a reminder cards,
and called you long distance.
I let you stay into August
through Labor Day, for nominal rent.

I arrived home to a dirty house and shower, 
filthy sheets—stained with candle wax, 
oil slicks and random bleach stains. 
All my plants, dead, my neighbors
tried to keep them alive when they realized 
my plants were dying.
If only you had told them,
they would’ve gladly done it for you.
For this favor, to you and your aunt Mimi
who assured me of your trustworthiness,
and responsibility, you ruined my credit rating,
penalties and late charges, more than the bill.

To add insult to injury, 
your one rent check bounced, with more penalties
you never paid the second month's rent check. 
The cable was cut off, the phone bill in arrears.
Contrary to your claims, I know you stayed 
at my house the entire time because you made 
many long-distance phone calls 
for which you never paid.
I would've gladly given you 
the last three weeks rent free
because you are a student.
Instead, your stay cost me money,
and my friendship with your aunt.
You left me bereft, out-of-pocket.
I accepted you in good faith 
and was treated with disrespect.
You also left your blue scarf and shampoo.
I will hold them hostage until you settle up.

No answer was the loud reply.

Dec. 1, 1996