THIS IS WHAT LANDLORDS DO. It's an art. See, they want you out. This is a rent control area, and they could be getting five times your rent from some Norwegian exchange students who pay before the 1st and have no friends and do nothing but homework in there, maybe a glass of red wine after ten and they get the giggles for half an hour and knock out. No moron children who slam doors as a hobby; no suddenly single mothers of three begging to not be booted into oncoming traffic even though they spent the last few years cursing the landlord's name because he's a piece of shit, plain as day. So they gnaw at you. Three-day notice on your door, just in case. Picking fights. Your phone voice is too loud. That isn't a regulation flowerpot. Bullshit. Parking their car, directly in front of your front door. Loud drilling, directly in front of your front door. Following you around. Little comments. Refusing to fix that huge crack in your living room wall until you call the housing department. And best believe he's going to stand on your couch with those dirty ass boots while he does it. Fuck your couch.

Mysterious water pipe explosions that completely ruin everything in your storage unit, at which point you explode too and cuss him out, or push him, or in this case, throw his cellphone, and with that we finally enter phase two, which is the part where the cops arrest you, because you don't have the $350 to pay for the $40 flip phone you just busted. Pushing tenants until they incriminate themselves. It's an art.

No installments, he said. She pays me now or you lock her up. In front of her kids. So I paid. It took ten minutes to get $360 from the ATM; the cops told me to hurry. She's just lucky I had the money. She never cared for me ever since I accidentally blocked her car in a few years ago. She thanked me like she was passing a gallstone. I've only seen her twice since then, and she lives fifty feet away from me. She said she'd pay me back as soon as she could, but she doesn't work at Ralphs anymore, and I don't see her husband around much nowadays. Old Man Julio shook my hand profusely and told me he'd pay me on her behalf, but I've seen him three times since and I'm not sure he remembers who I am anymore.

Am I wrong because I want my money back?

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