Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Bed bugs and boarding house bitches

I’d never seen Bed Bugs Before. I thought they were invisible. But they’re actually fat with round bloated bodies filled with blood, I know because I slaughtered one and rubbed my bloody finger on the window sill. As evidence. Then I folded up the worn limp sheets with the tips of my fingers and carried the crawling parcel to the lounge room where I dumped it on the floor. Finally I shifted the lumpy mattresses to the corridor and lay down on a towel on my floor. With no pillow. All soft things belonged to the vermin. Only hard surfaces could be trusted. I lay on my back and thought about the fight I was having on Facebook about Self Help books and why I hated them. . A Pro Positivity activist kept popping back in to bait me. I had wasted my rage in that thread. She was an idiot. I turned on my belly and felt my elbow crunch into the floor. ‘People in boarding houses shouldn’t throw stones’ was my very last thought.

I was woken by my landlady who was not looking very happy. Her growling Dalmatian was unleashed at her side just in case I decided to run for it. ‘I put the bed in the corridor because it was crawling with bed bugs.’ I told her. ‘Can you tie him up? I’m scared of big dogs’.

‘We don’t have bed bugs in this place. You must have imagined them. ‘I’ll make you up a new room she smiled. Can you just sign here on the dotted line. Serena Russo is paying your bond.

‘I signed the form not because I was staying but because I had nowhere to put my luggage and the dog was making me nervous. I wasn’t really up for a fight. He followed her down the corridor and stood in front of the bathroom barking at me every time I tried to make a run for the shower.

So I gave up, washed my face in the sink and got back on my bicycle to go back to Serena Russo. When Denise saw my face she gave me a hug, and her Personal Assistant went to make me coffee. They were really very nice. ‘Don’t worry darling’, said Denise as Chris handed me a box of tissues and a steaming mug of instant coffee. Go back to Spring Hill and pack up your stuff. We’ll find you somewhere right this time! I know a place where the woman who runs it is an absolute Nazi but it’s clean as a whistle I promise!.

So Donna, my new friend from Crisis drove me to Spring Hill and I stored all my bags in her car until I’d found my new home. Then I cycled down to New Farm and arrived at a gorgeous clean Queenslander on a lovely tree lined street. I was an hour early so I sat in the front lawn falling in love with the place. But when the Landlady finally arrived a half an hour late, l knew my reputation had preceded me. Unfortunately my darling Denise had mentioned the bed bugs. She was going for the sympathy vote which I would have advised against because you can’t sell a charity case to a slumlord. They want to exploit your bad fortune, not share it. I put out my hand and she glared at it.

‘I don’t want you bringing your bed bugs into my boarding house.

‘Oh dear!’ .

But I didn’t even unpack my luggage’ I told her. And I’ve laundered and aired it all out anyway!’ The last point was a lie and Boarding House Bitches have a good ear for bullshit so I knew that she didn’t believe me. ‘I’ve also sprayed everything with Glen 20’.

‘Glen 20 doesn’t kill them! Bed bugs never die! They just move from room to room. You never get rid of them!’

‘Oh lawd she was probably right. I wouldn’t want me either! I might as well be carrying funnel web spiders! It was hopeless! I had my heart set on this place and I knew it would never be mine! I was tired and emotional so I did what I always do when I’m tired and emotional. I started to cry. She stared at me utterly repulsed. ‘Now you’re really worrying me.’ She backed away from me as if my tears were infectious. ‘I don’t want to know about this’. ‘Why is Serena Russo offering to pay your bond anyway?. I do not like the sound of that! I only have people here that are working!’.

‘I’ll be working by next week’ I pleaded. Now smiling and drying my eyes. ‘I just arrived in Brisbane as soon as I find a place to settle I’ll have an income. I have a business. Here’s my card!.’ But the tone of my voice was thin and pathetic. And nothing I could say would change the fact that this woman really didn’t like me.

And I didn’t like her either.

So I cycled back up the hill in the heatwave feeling stinky and tired. I was limp when I got back to my base camp, so I put my head down on Denise’s desk and closed my eyes.. It was late afternoon on a Friday. We were out of ideas. So they organised a budget hotel for me to stay in on the weekend. ‘You must be special’ said Chris. Serena Russo’s brother is paying for it on his credit card.’
‘Really? Who is he? This man who uses his Credit card without expecting favours. There must be a God!   (You know at the time I didn't even suspect that it might be a Freemason...carry on...)

‘Go and rest’ said the darling Denise. You’ve got cable and air conditioning and crisp white sheets. You can have a nice long shower and a long long sleep. We’ll sort everything out on Monday’…



It's getting hotter up here now. And slower. Hotter and slower and stickier. The wet season rolls in, the nutters come out, the crocs are awake, the mozzies are back. The swamps and the oceans, the air and the grass are all teeming with life that can kill you. But it's so beautiful...

'Follow me' he says, taking my hand.

I slip his grip and turn back. 'No way. There are crocs. I can feel them'.

'There are no crocodiles, Trust me.'

'Why should I trust you? What do you know? You're just a white bloke from Noosa!'

He didn't like that. He was trying to make like a man and leading me into the great unknown was his primitive romance. There was a time I would have followed him. But those days are gone. This is why men like younger women.

'I wish I knew you before you were hurt' he says. As if he can read my heart's history. 'I bet you do', I think. 'I probably would have given you a pity fuck. But pity you, those days are over.'

I don't say this. I say 'I like me better now.'

This seems to turn him on.

He says 'Lets do a business together. You got a hundred and sixty grand? I'll put in a hundred and sixty and we'll get something moving!'

I liked him better the way I knew him. In the yoga class, where he didn't speak.

'What makes you think I've got that sort of money?'

'You've got money. I can smell it on you. I can smell it in a down wind.'