What the 'L'

There are four flatmates on my floor at the shared house. I'm one of them. The others — Dean, Robert, and 'L' — were strangers to me when I moved in two years ago, and they're all basically strangers still. I ain't much looking to make friends, and mostly keep to myself when I'm home.

Dean is the talky one, and only talks about uninteresting topics — cooking, butter, and Dean. Me being not talky at all, sometimes he drives me bonkers, and sometimes he's kookily amusing.

But I've written plenty about Dean, and today I'll spare you. Haven't written much about the other two flatmates.

Robert is the one I kinda like. We've had a hundred short conversations, and now I know too much about his life, but the conversations haven't been awful and his life has been kinda interesting.

He's old like me, divorced, heartbroken, disabled in the head I think, so he doesn't work, and lives off SSI. We kinda connect when we're chatting in the kitchen, and honestly, I'd like to have breakfast with him at Mrs Rigby's some time.

The problem with that idea is, neither he nor I drive, so in addition to breakfast there'd be a half-hour bus ride coming and going, together on the #99 bus. I never have an hour and a half of conversation in me, so there's been no invitation, and we remain casual acquaintances who pass in the kitchen.

'L' is about 40 or 45 years old, the only one of us who isn't a senior citizen. Robert and Dean sometimes have hours-long conversations in the kitchen, which I overhear in my room, and 'L' joined them once. But he doesn't usually socialize with any of us, and being an introvert I appreciate that.

There are only three things I know about 'L':

First, he's a perpetual pothead, often sitting on the porch getting baked or re-baked.

Second, he doesn't trust people. We've had three or five short conversations, and he's into conspiracy theories, and once told me that, before I moved in, he'd mounted a tiny hidden camera in the kitchen when he suspected a then-flatmate of stealing his food. For a few weeks last summer he left two large plastic bags of something — I know not what — in the front porch that doubles as our laundry room, and emerged from his room repeatedly to make sure the bags were still there. On two different days I was in the laundry room when he came and checked his bags, and both times he gave me the same short explanation: "These are things that can't fit into my room, so I'm keeping them out here for a while. Just checking to make sure they're still here." But I've seen into his room when he's opened the door, and there's plenty of open space in there, so my guess is that the bags held hard drugs, and he wanted plausible deniability that they were his.

Third and last thing I know about him is, he has a raging temper. He once shouted at Robert and I, loudly and for about five minutes, because we hadn't left the front door open to let cool air into the house on a hot summer day. He'd never mentioned leaving the door open before that day, and he's never mentioned it since. Another time he stomped around the flat slamming doors for a long while, until the lady downstairs came up to complain about the stomping and slamming. Never even knew what he was angry about that day, except that he was sure angry at the lady downstairs when she complained.

'L' and I will never be best buddies, but he keeps to his side of the house and me to mine, and there have been no issues between us, until last night.

I'd turned in early, woke up a few hours later to pee, and I was still awake at around midnight when 'L' pounded on my bedroom door. He didn't knock, he pounded, and said nothing when I asked from my recliner, "Who the fuck's there?"

When I opened the door he began berating me, because a package had been delivered for me, and as usual, left in the front porch/laundry room — but when I'd come home from work and passed through the porch/laundry room I hadn't seen it. 'L' was bulging-veins angry that the package had been in the laundry room for seven hours.

I don't dig being yelled at in my own kitchen, especially over something stupid, so I yelled back. Our argument didn't get physical, but it was loud, and I shouted nothing clever, nothing worth typing or remembering. I didn't insult him during this surprise attack, though, unless "I don't get you, man," counts — that was my last line as he stomped away.

Must've been a very entertaining sixty seconds of late night two-man hollering, and I'm sure Dean, Robert, and our other four flatmates who live downstairs enjoyed it.

I did not. But being no fan of screaming drama where I live, every time I come home I'll be checking more closely for packages in the porch/laundry room. 'L' won the argument, I guess.

And thinking it over before falling asleep again, maybe I do kinda get him. We're all crazy — not just me and 'L' and Dean and Robert, but everyone in the world — we're just crazy in different ways.

I don't take out my trash until it stinks, and wear the same socks for a month at a time, and write about my pathetic life on the internet. 'L' wants a tidy porch and laundry room, with no packages. Really, it's a dead heat which of us is crazier.



  1. For someone who left two packages on the porch himself, he has no room to complain. What was in those packages anyway...you shoulda checked. At any rate: short tempered people are a bitch and a half.

    - Zeke Krahlin

    1. 'L' has said not a word to me since. How I *wish* some of that would rub off on Dean.


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