College students often think they are ready for everything. I know I did, but I was sorely mistaken — I was in no way ready for what was about to befall me.
After my second year at college I planned on moving out of the dorms and getting into my first apartment — with my girlfriend, no less. Boy, were our parents excited about that. And in our wisdom we thought, “Gee, two-bedroom apartments are better deals than one-bedrooms. So, who do we want as a roommate?” We did not want a friend — that could lead to a “third wheel” problem. And we did not want another college student — too noisy, too messy. We put an ad in the city paper and started interviewing candidates. We came across a guy who fit the bill. We’ll call him Bart. He had a stable job and came to the interview with his dad and girlfriend. Everything seemed great.
Bart was not much of a cook. For him, a meal consisted of walking across the street to the market and buying a microwave dinner or getting something from the Chinese restaurant. No biggie — that meant our kitchen stayed cleaner. But then letters from the supermarket started coming. He was using bad checks. And for some reason he was able to get away with it. He must have received five or six letters from various supermarkets every week. This went on for months. My girlfriend and I were only amused. He paid the rent, so what did we care? But while bouncing checks did not constitute an awful roommate, it proved to be the beginning of a downward spiral.
Spoons started going missing. Weird. I figured they must have been damaged in the garbage disposal and were thrown away. Or something. Naive! One day I found a spoon under the sofa. It had a peculiar coating on it. Dried, iridescent, and with a sickening sweet smell. I thought little of it at the time and threw it in the dishwasher.
By the end of the month we had no spoons. About this time Bart started leaving the house all the time, using what I thought was a local taxi service. Sometimes he would return within minutes; sometimes a day or two would pass. He would always return disheveled and on one occasion looked as if he had been beaten. Finally — about three months since Bart had moved in — I put it together. Of course, Bart was a heroin addict.
My girlfriend and I started looking into how we could have Bart removed from the lease without losing the lease ourselves. This was trickier than we thought. We did not have the funds to pay the entire rent. Plus it was the middle of the school year, so it would have been hard to find another roommate quickly. As we worried over this, things got worse.
The “taxi service” started calling at all hours of the day, asking for Bart, who would tell me to say that he wasn’t home. Then came the nighttime pounding on the front door. When this happened Bart would run to the door, making sure that he was the first one to answer it. One night Bart actually asked me if he could borrow my credit card. I told him “No” and began to always lock my wallet in my desk.
It wasn’t long before I discovered that my desk had been broken into and my credit card was missing. I canceled the card and asked the company about any recent charges. They said that there were three attempts, but all were failures — the signatures did not match, and these transactions had drawn their attention. Why they hadn’t called me about it, I don’t know.
That night, just as my girlfriend and I were about to confront Bart, there was a loud knock at the door. This large, sketchy-looking guy said one word: “Bart.” Bart left, looking apprehensive.
A week passed, and Bart had not returned. The end of the month was upon us, and rent needed to be paid. We contacted Bart’s father. He knew more than he was letting on, but all we cared about was that he gave us two months’ rent. Bart never returned. My girlfriend and I split up two months later.
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