I think I’m ready to talk about it.
It’s 10:30 PM on Tuesday, February 4th, and three Polish men are drilling into our kitchen wall like they’re trying to burrow their way back to Warsaw. I arrived home from work at 7, starving and with a throbbing headache, and all I want to do is go to sleep. Our entire kitchen area is wrapped in plastic, so we ordered tacos from the little place around the corner and ate them in bed, using cookie sheets as food trays. As soon as I shut off this computer, I will attempt to sleep with lamps on and pillows covering my head as the three workers–and my husband who likes to observe all things home repair–walk back and forth through my bedroom carrying bits and pieces of the 100-year-old cast-iron pipe that cracked like a rotten egg inside our wall over a week ago. They wrap up the day’s work shortly after midnight.
PS: They’re not done. It’s now Wednesday night, it’s 8 pm, and there is still a Polish guy in my kitchen, humming loudly while working away. I have already been informed they will be here tomorrow night too. I am back on my bed trying to keep myself entertained while Vin is at work and our TV is still broken. I don’t even have any tacos.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s back up.
Sunday, Jan. 26
There’s a puddle on the floor by the kitchen sink, and a stack of paper nearby is soaked through and smells like a boys’ locker room. If I understood Photoshop well enough, this is where I’d insert a picture of myself with a furrowed brow and a thought bubble that reads: “Aw, Shit.”
I call over to Vinny. “Hey Vin–might not be able to make fun plans today. I think we need to call a plumber. We’ve got a leak.” He walks over, nods, and says something along the lines of “Aw, shit”, which is apparently the universal response to finding a leak in the house.
So our landlord, who’s really great about handling stuff right away, sends a guy named Armando over to investigate. Armando takes a quick look around and says, “I’m just gonna start breaking your wall to see what’s going on.” This line alone makes me happy to be a renter, because the minute people start throwing phrases like “breaking walls” around, you know there’s going to be a big bill coming your way soon.
Armando knocks two holes in the wall–one behind the area where the fridge lives and the other underneath our kitchen sink–and it smells like…well…it smells like a big fart has been trapped inside our wall for the past three years and has finally been released into the atmosphere. This, of course, reminds me of my friend’s brother who famously trapped his own fart in a jar during high school and kept it on a shelf all through college. I’m not sure when or how the ceremonial release was held, but I’m happy to report that their whole family is still alive and the fart-catcher is now a well-respected physician.
Where was I?
Right. So, Armando turns on our kitchen faucet and shows us what has been hiding out for a good while–every time the sink goes on, the busted pipe releases a gush of water that passes through the back of the wall. This was not a drip or a leak–it was like a friggin’ dam breaking every time we turned on the sink. There was a river running through the wall with nowhere to go, which is why it smelled like a fart in a jar, with a lid screwed on extra tight for four years before finally being set free on graduation day.
I feel terrible for Armando who is on the verge of tears because he got arthroscopic surgery on his veins two days ago, and the BED stockings he wears to improve his circulation are currently cutting it off entirely. He replaces the pipe under our sink, and says he’ll come back later that week to patch the holes. It’s great timing when he leaves because the Grammy’s are starting and Beyonce is about to dry-hump the floor, a chair, and Jay-Z all within the span of six minutes. I prefer to be alone with my husband when watching soft core.
When Armando leaves, our wall looks like this.
And under the sink, it now looks like this:
Monday morning, Jan. 27: We hear and see another leak, this time from another pipe. We call the landlord. Landlord calls Armando.
Monday evening: Vin works late and I meet a friend for dinner. Landlord and Armando stand outside the house calling for 25 minutes in the freezing cold, because landlord has forgotten his key. Landlord calls both of us four times each. Neither of us hears our phone. We feel like assholes. Call landlord back when we receive his messages; he reports they will come by apartment tomorrow while we are at work.
Tuesday morning, Jan. 28: I leave a note on the kitchen table, apologizing for not being there night before. I tape another note onto the leaky pipe inside the big hole, letting landlord and Armando know: LEAKY PIPE HERE.
Tuesday night: I arrive home. The holes are still wide open. The pipe is still leaking.
But the note I taped to the pipe is gone.
And then I almost step into a huge pile of busted glass. There is glass everywhere. I try to figure what’s broken, and suddenly see that our little candy dish we keep on a side table is missing. Then I realize…ALL THE CANDY IS GONE. No wrappers, no chocolate shavings on the floor…just broken glass and missing candy.
I call Vin confused. Why would our landlord and/or the plumber break a glass candy dish in our apartment and walk away? They are very decent people, and that seems out of character. Plus, Vin called the landlord. He ended up not coming over after all.
And so, the only explanation I can surmise is that someone else entered our apartment this afternoon, ate all of our chocolate, removed the note from the leaky pipe, then smashed a candy dish on their way out.
My mind will not let me consider the obvious answer here, which is that a mouse crawled out of the enormous hole in our wall, smelled our chocolate, climbed up onto the table, smashed the glass and ran off with the candy. There are no droppings anywhere, and I am actually much more comfortable with the idea of a stranger walking into our apartment, creating a serious hazard and stealing a note just to fuck with us.
I am actually still more comfortable with this as opposed to what happens next…
Stay tuned! Part 2 will be published tomorrow.