Allow Me To Serve
Allow Me To Serve
The New Tenants
For rent: 2 BDR Apt.
Over detached garage.
Kitchen, Small Balcony,
Quiet neighborhood, Near
Campus. 1,000 sq. ft.
The ad ran for three weeks in June and I don't know how many phone calls I got and just plain lookee-lou students that dropped in unannounced. Three co-eds showed up, all with feathers clipped in their hair and vacant looks in their eyes, (I could already hear it: "Oops. Sorry the rent was late. Forgot again."), not to mention two rich boys living on daddy and mommy's money in between school years that wanted to score a party pad. ("Dude! Let's rock!")
I had just about decided that with most of the students going back home the pickings were so slim I would have to rent to one of them or some other irresponsible idiot. Then a married couple phoned for an appointment and turned up on time. It was the laughing couple from the South Coast coffee bar. They were quiet and serious now, best friends and lovers; that's how I saw them as they wandered from room to room. He was a college professor and she a free-lance magazine writer. But the way they treated each other with such respect, so much in tune to their mate, made me jealous. I'd never seen anything like that, much less experienced it, and I wanted a piece of their magic. Their names were Stephanie and Daniel Taylor. They moved in that weekend.
Three months later I hung naked in their living room.
I didn't see much of them just after the move in, but I did notice several large footlockers that they wouldn't let the muscle-bound movers touch, taking each up themselves. It was different with the cage. Ah, yes, the cage! Very tall, ornate, round and so heavy it took four men to haul it up the creaking wooden stairs. While they carefully angled it inside, one of the movers asked why Daniel and Stephanie owned it. With a laugh Daniel shouted from below he locked Stephanie in there when he needed a good night's sleep. The muscle men laughed too and then, since it was the last thing to go inside, they left. The apartment lights stayed on well into the night as my new tenants unpacked. Late that night, from my back bedroom window I spied Stephanie in a blue, light bathrobe as she drew the curtains. I wasn't sure, but I thought I saw a small choke collar with a tiny ring on her neck.
And that was it. Daniel and Stephanie kept to themselves as summer turned to fall and the college year began. They dropped off their checks; either stuck in my kitchen door jam or brought inside if I was puttering at the sink. Just a quick "Hello" from them and an equally quick "thanks" from me. Their checks were always hand printed with my name, Marlene Bettencourt.
It was nice seeing my maiden name again. The divorce was final at the start of last summer and my ex-husband of ten years, married out of high school, left me with a mortgage I couldn't handle on my sales office assistant wages. Neat. So I fixed up the apartment over the garage as he had always promised to do and hoped for decent tenants. Stephanie and Daniel were a dream come true. I got some breathing space from the bank and a regular, if silent, endorsement of my new life.
My new life, but little did I know it hadn't even started yet!
That 'new' life began one early evening when Daniel and Stephanie strode by the kitchen on the driveway toward the street. They both carried well-stuffed, dark gym bags and were dressed in matching leather dusters, dark cowboy hats and boots. Daniel's heels clicked on the concrete while Stephanie's were quiet on the central grass portion of the driveway. They were smiling and their arms were curled around each other's waist.
Suddenly, I felt that pang again. Lovers and best friends. Drawn like a moth to a dark flame, I poked my head out the kitchen door, while they stood at the curb, waiting for someone.
I don't know what I was thinking, but I wanted to