I can't believe it's actually necessary for me to inform Daniel he can't vacuum a cat -- to actually have spell it out for him: "Cat plus vacuum equals bad, got it?"
He didn't get it, but I'm not sure I can blame him fully for the vacuumed cat, seeing as how the cat belongs to notorious psychic Sherrie Cash, who moved into the Telephone Factory down the hall from Daniel last May. They've been friends for over a decade, but have only recently become exceptionally bad influences on each other since she became his neighbor.
Don't get me wrong. I love Sherrie Cash. How could you not? With those purple hair extensions and her head piled with so many multi-colored metal butterfly clips she could deflect a shower of dropping bombs. And that's not even counting the body glitter and total toolbox of jewelry she wears every day. Add to that the truckload of tutus, feathers and shiny Mylar that make up her wardrobe, and you've got a walking ray of sunshine, folks. I'm serious. I just suggest that, if you want to gaze directly at her for any length of time, you should do it through a piece of cardboard with a pinhole in it.
But Sherrie and Daniel are corrupting each other, it seems. Showing up at each other's door with a bottle of tequila, which they'll use to get the taste of bong hits off their tongues. Damn, I'm jealous. I used to live down the hall from Daniel myself, and once he knocked on my door and demanded I smell him.
"So?" I asked, sniffing his neck.
"I just had sex."
I slammed the door, but he stayed out there, pounding on it, yelling, "Smell me," until I finally let him back in so he could tell me all about his afternoon of big hot buffalo sex with a handsome hairdresser who lived in Buford.
The Telephone Factory is a gorgeous loft complex in Poncey-Highland, and the only reason we could afford to live there was because the developer had received funds to renovate the building via a bond referendum, a condition of which was that 11 of the loft apartments be made available to "moderate income" tenants at a fraction of their going rent. The developer allocated those units to 10 struggling artists and me.
So, in short, Daniel and I really lucked out. He with his huge patio courtyard, and me with my view of the city and a living room so big I could circle it on my bike. All we had to do to stay there was keep our income under $22,000 a year.
The Clermont Lounge was right up the street, too, and we went there with our friends about once a week. On one visit, Grant caused the big stripper we call Butterball to fall off the stage by making her reach too far for her dollar tip. She hit the ground like a sack of cement. I felt bad, but Daniel didn't. "People need to reach for things," he said.
Sometimes the Telephone Factory developer would show up and threaten to kick our asses out, reminding us that our stay there was considered an interim until we "got back on our feet" and could afford real rent. He seriously would've loved to boot us all street side, but the truth is he kinda couldn't, not unless we got successful or something. "Ha," we'd laugh after he left. "We'll show him. We'll never make anything of ourselves!"
"We'll stay losers until they pry the keys from our cold, dead fingers," Daniel said.
But it turned out I was a failure at being a failure. What Daniel said is true: People need to reach for things. Soon enough, I started hankering for a future of some kind, and ended up doing just what the developer kept heavily suggesting we all do. I started saving the money I would've spent on a normal lease, and used it as a down payment on a tiny house in a crack neighborhood 100 miles away. OK, it was just six miles away, but it felt like 100 -- especially since Daniel was famous for refusing to drive outside a three-block radius of Poncey-Highland. But Daniel didn't dump me like I worried he would. Instead, he made the trek to my new place pretty regularly. Then one day he started jonesing for a home of his own, too -- and now he house hunts almost every weekend. Not that he has any money yet, mind you, but it doesn't hurt to drive and dream. The other day he was telling me about a place in Clarkston. It sounded perfect except that Clarkston is 100 (OK, 15) miles away.
"I ain't going anyplace just yet," Daniel said, sensing my worry.
"But you will," I said.
Yes, I thought, Daniel will go places. But that doesn't mean we can't meet up again at the Telephone Factory when we're 80. I hear the developer plans to sell them as condos some day. "Wouldn't that be great?" I say to Daniel. "I'll race you with my walker to my new job at the Clermont, shaking my tits like two turkey wattles to make a buck."
"I'll be there," Daniel promised, "holding it right outside your reach."