So now it’s Wednesday. Around 6pm Paul and I gut and carve pumpkins. I’m feeling untalented. “You know I can’t render, so my design will look like a sixth grader’s work. Yours will have much more style.” Paul chooses to be gracious. “Don’t set yourself up for failure before you even begin.”
Marty, dunce that he is, sits and smokes and talks without lifting a finger to the task. Just like he’s welcome or something. “I’m officially a gerbil now,” he claims between drags. “Candish took me down to the health club and I joined the other gerbils.” He describes the club, which is directly across the street, and his surprise that it’s clean and lit dramatically instead of overbright.
“I believe you have a girlfriend, Marty,” I say. “You moved out of the mess and joined a health club.” He claims it’s all about getting back in shape and takes another drag on the ciggie. Paul and I quibble over design and tools and process and outcome. “The nose is a trapezoid,” he says. He draws one on the newspaper we have spread to contain the mess. Then he reaches across to touch up the pumpkin mouth I’m carving. “That’s your pumpkin,” I say. “This is my pumpkin.” Marty inserts comments about health club equipment into our argument just as though he and Paul sit here alone. Marty flicks a cigarette ash into the measuring cup I brought to remove pulp.
Anne is on the deck rolling cigarettes because, supposedly, that saves money and cuts down on frequency. When the rolling machine gets stuck, she solicits Paul’s help. She confesses her life right along as though somebody cares, claiming she’ll stay living with Adas and her sister found a different arrangement. I try to add a comment but, clearly, I’m imposing. So I stick with the task at hand.
Paul advises me, turning easily from advising Anne. “Now score the rind for whiskers so the light shines through.” I complain, though. “The face will collapse sooner if I stroke across.”
“You two are like brother and sister,” Anne says. I try to answer with a laugh, but she ignores me. She’s sharing the time with Paul. It gets dark suddenly at 6:15 when we’re less than half finished. The deck lights are on a timer gauged for summer sunset. I complain about the inconvenience, but then feel smirking from all directions. I’m so sick of the poison.
“Aha!” I say when I finish a jack-o-lantern face on the first pumpkin. “I have achieved pumpkin carving!” I set a sterno candle in the decorative piece and place it where I can see it from my studio. We clean the mess and retreat inside and order pizza to devour during a new episode of Lost. The pizza is hot and the episode just underway when Marty knocks on my door. “The internet is down. Can you check yours?” I ask him to join us for pizza but he claims he has a cigarette and he knows I don’t allow smoking in the studio.
“Listen, the show just started. I’ll have a look in forty minutes, okay?” He rolls his eyes. “I need to send email to a client right away.” That seems strange. What’s right away to a drunk who just spent an hour making a nuisance of himself on the deck? “You can access email from anywhere. Try Candish’s place.” He leaves in a huff because I won’t serve him. But I don’t care. I have pizza and Lost and cat and–
Later I check the computer and wander down to studio 114. “The net’s down,” I say, “and I tried the quick fixes Roger taught me. It’ll have to wait until I can call SBC unless you have a phone number for Roger.” Marty speaks with sudden authority. “Roger’s dead.” He sees my surprise and adds, “I mean, Roger’s gone from the building and won’t be back.” Like it’s my fault or something.
“Well, sorry for the inconvenience. I’ll call SBC in the morning.” But Marty’s not satisfied. “It’s more than an inconvenience. I need to send this file to a client.” I suggest he use email on a fellow tenant’s computer, but he frowns like that’s not a possibility. I say my goodnights and forget about him.
Thursday morning I’m up at 6:30. I spent the time yesterday fooling with pumpkins and now need to prepare for Friday’s classes. I spy Candish and Marty on the deck with morning coffee. No tension there, so he must have sent his most important file. So I grade papers and develop the assignment and watch President Bush’s speech on foreign policy. Ha, ha, he uses compare and contrast examples for Al Queda and Soviet Communism. I jot-down several examples to share with my early class.
Marty knocks and wants to know if I can unplug the equipment and reboot everything. “Candish said she had a similar problem with SBC and they recommended that.” I’m aghast and cannot hide my amazement. “I thought you wanted our arrangement to remain a secret. You told the others?” He shrugs weakly. “Just Candish.” I only laugh and tell him that whatever Candish knows, everybody knows. I immediately regret my comment because I’m sure she’ll hear it. Another log fueling the mama-drama fire.
“Candish says to reboot,” he stubbornly repeats. I want to shout that I’m don’t configure the equipment according to Candish’s instructions, but bite my lip. Marty calls SBC using my phone bill and information, but gets nowhere as usual. “I can reach out to my IT technician,” I say. “But it’ll cost for a house call.” I call and set an appointment for 1pm, which I think is fast service. Marty goes into his whine about the need to email a client. I want to kill him.
My IT serviceman arrives and spends an hour. I determine during the effort that the DSL line is dead. I make the IT guy reconfigure my ibook the way it was before he arrived. He’s no help but wants to ask me tough questions about why I’m sharing service with someone I’m not sleeping with, then charges me $100. Who’s the whore here? When he finally leaves, I call SBC and get some rigmarole about how if the problem is my interior line, then there’s a charge. Two hours later it’s working fine. SBC sucks.