Thursday, 17 February 2011

Taco Jesus

A mile south of Division and too far west to be in danger of gentrification anytime soon, but look at the space. So much space- a kitchen, a pantry with shelving on three sides and an odd statue of Mary set into the back wall, a living room--lots of light, another room--covered over fireplace--knock knock chipboard...some cheap white paint brushed over the moulding, two rooms with doors--both with no windows and the back room seeming like the setting for a blood spattered horror scene or the waiting room for Hell. It just had that vibe. She could use it as a walk-in closet.

Quirky alcoves. Steepled door frames. The possibility for charm. There was even a back porch looking out onto some cracked tarmac and the communal bin. Scenic. Three hundred fifty dollars a month, A little dangerous at night, but you have a car. Some gangs around here, but they have their own agenda. "Worth it," she thought. Some trade offs, but worth it. A bedroom and the rest--a painting studio. Art supplies in the pantry.

She caught the little clawed footsteps of a giant mouse out of the corner of her eye. It was huge- about the size of a cat or a rabbit. It waddled like a platypus.  It must have come from Alice in Wonderland. No trap would be big enough. No amount of cheese would stop it. 

She had painted and cleaned and done everything to make it more appealing, but it never was. It was a huge place, but cold. An old disused church on Huron that smelled of tacos. The pews had been taken out and it had been divided into four apartments. The architect had not been using a ruler. That was obvious from the way the floor slanted. 

Ten Mexicans lived across the hall in the same amount of space. She always nodded to them. There was always someone coming or going. Never the same face. She estimated ten, but was not sure of the official number. She pulled the shade down on the back window very slowly. It had been cracked by robbers. She taped it. She wanted her security deposit back. There had been nothing much to steal. They had tried to move the tv, but left empty handed. The cricketing of an old motor. He was here, the landlord, an alligator trained to smile.

Conversation on a train between strangers, pictures shared from a wallet-the sequence from age two to age nine. She couldn't bring herself to care about the progression of this child she'd never met, but the woman took great pleasure in showing them to her. It didn't matter. It would be her stop soon. 

She wore a bangle of tape around her wrist. She had the box taped up so tightly as if it had been in casualty. So glad to be moving. One more look at the Sears sign that lit up part of the street until nine. After that, there were no street lights. No need for them. No one would ever be a pedestrian in these parts after dark. Only once she had seen someone with a groggy limp holding his arm as he ran from the police. 

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