I retired without a clue as to where we were going to live. All we knew was it wasn’t where we were living at the time. Our house sold quickly, so we had to find something fast. After many years of owning homes we were apartment hunting again.
We made dates with a couple of apartment referral services and off we went. Our first appointment set the tone for this adventure. Two squad cars followed us into an otherwise normal looking apartment complex. While the rental agent was showing us around, the police were rounding up all of the tenants and lining them up in the parking lot. This didn’t faze the rental agent one bit; he continued with his spiel without a word about the activity going on just a few steps away. Maybe police raids are normal here?
Another agent took us to an older apartment which looked like one we might have lived in thirty-five years ago. We signed a year’s lease and became the new tenants of apartment A209 at Daybreak Place. We were prepared to deal with the trials of apartment living: cramped quarters, strange noises at all hours, community laundries, loud kids in the pool etc. but our real surprise came when we met our new neighbors.
Four kinds of people live in apartments: just-starting-out couples, recently divorced men, chronic losers of both genders and whackos of all sorts. We didn’t know that our suburban phony-friendliness would grant us membership into this totally new social circle. Not the suburban country club set we had just left but a whole new gang of weirdoes. I’d like to introduce you to our new Daybreak Place friends. Oh by the way, I’d put them all squarely in the fourth category.
The Cheecoggo Gang Banger … The most memorable wacko of the bunch is Teddy, a heavily tattooed, muscular, 260-pound, gun-packing Puerto Rican from Chicago, or Cheecoggo as he calls it. Teddy is overly friendly and full of stories from his Rican gang-banger days. He’s hiding out in Phoenix because his old Cheecoggo playmates have a contract out on him.
He works two double shifts each weekend as an armed security guard all garbed up in his homemade SWAT-like outfit. His getup includes guns, ammo, mace, cuffs, nightsticks and lots of other stuff hidden in his many pockets and those hanging thingies on his gun belt. Teddy, with his linebacker body and all of his paramilitary stuff, looks like he could severely kick Rambo’s ass and secure Baghdad in about an hour.
Teddy always carries or wears his loaded .45 automatic, even in his bathing suit and flip flops. One afternoon he came over carrying his year-old daughter all bundled up in her baby blankets. When he unwrapped his daughter his loaded .45 fell out with the baby.
If these Cheecoggo bad guys ever show up at Daybreak Place, Teddy is ready for ‘em.
Our Own “Dom” … Michelle moved in with her elderly mom, our next door neighbor. She is a single, exceedingly homely, plump, thirty-something donned in a thrift store wardrobe. Sound exciting? Nope. It’s not her appearance, personality or sense of fashion that got her on our whacko list; it’s her sexual practices.
Over a third bottle of wine one night she described her dominatrix fetish and her sadistic sexual fantasies. We were to learn that these kinds of folks are simply called doms. How would we know?
Her thing is whipping men. Apparently there are lots of guys out there who crave being beaten by a really ugly fat girl in ill-fitting black leather. She’s also into bondage but only as an adjunct to hurting someone; mainly but not always men.
When our 38-year-old son visited, he and Teddy, the Cheecoggo gang banger, would sit out on the landing sipping cold ones. Michelle would hang around these two good-looking guys like a teenager in heat. She’s tried coming on to the guys by describing her fetish scenes and showing off her whips and toys. They never took her up on her offer. So they say.
One evening we encouraged her to put on all of her gear and show us her stuff. She ran around our living room clad in her leather get-up, snapping and popping her assortment of whips while we all ducked and hid behind the furniture. Was she sexually aroused? I don’t know. I was hiding under the table.
Crazy and Crazier … Talk about whackos; these two are both certified insane. Chris is a thirty-something delusional woman and Mark is her recently paroled, schizophrenic boyfriend. They met at a halfway house and have just begun their new life together, two doors down from us.
Chris was disowned by her affluent Long Island parents and claims to have a college degree. She says she worked a couple of respectable jobs before her one-way trip to la la land. Her stories about being homeless and traveling endlessly across the country with weird truckers made us teary-eyed. The peak of her insanity occurred when she wrote President Bush a six-page threatening letter; a letter scary enough for the Secret Service to track her down and arrest her. The feds found her to be harmless but whacko. They diagnosed her as delusional, treated her, and gave her meds and a disability pension.
Whatever she was taking seemed to work on her delusions but left her shuffling around like she was somewhere between her second and third martini. Starved for female companionship and parental affection she adopted my wife as her new best friend.
Mark on the other hand refused to take his meds and didn’t deal with his whacko-ness very well. He had a thing for cars. Chris told us his prison time was for joy riding auto theft. They bought a worn-out Cadillac from the Salvation Army and had wheels for the first time in their budding relationship.
Chris came looking for Mark one evening. No one had seen him. The following day we learned he was in jail and his car was impounded for shop lifting and driving without a license. Chris asked my wife to help her bail Mark out of what she thought was the right city jail. After an entire night with Phoenix’s finest my wife learned that Mark and his car were being held somewhere else.
His dumbest car trick was when he drove a new Pontiac Firebird off a car lot without the salesman and joy rode for a half a day before regaining his senses and returning the car. The dealership was so happy to have their car back they didn’t press charges. Mark was so hyped by his joy ride that couldn’t remember where he had left his own car. My wife spent hours combing the neighborhoods with Crazy and Crazier’s noses pushed against the windows looking for their lost car.
The morning we left Daybreak Place for the last time we found Mark sitting alone in the parking lot staring off into space talking to himself. I said goodbye to him and he mumbled something back without looking my way.
I hope they make it.
The Jew and the Junkie … I know it’s not politically correct to label someone by their ethnicity, but we met the poster girl for all of the stereotypically bad qualities that Jews have been accused of over the years. She is a homely, chunky, exceptionally loud, know-it-all from New York, where else? She talks or yells about herself incessantly at constant volume, even when discussing her most embarrassing personal things.
We later learned that she suffers from bipolar disorder and has radical mood swings when she’s not on her meds. The loud obnoxious mode we’ve seen is her high. During her lows she stays in bed and yells at her live-in boyfriend. Wonderful!
We nicknamed her boyfriend The Junkie, not because we ever saw him using controlled substances but because he is as flakey as you imagine a strung-out doper to be. He also suffers from bipolar disorder and is on meds. Can you imagine these two together during a pharmacist strike?
He is an unemployed computer nerd with thousands of dollars of pirated software. For a couple of beers he upgraded my system and installed some new packages. While we were waiting for an excessively long download I inadvertently clicked on an email with an attached photo of an exceptionally beautiful nude girl. Guys are normally reserved when sharing something even mildly pornographic with strangers. Not The Junkie, he just moaned and began licking the photo on my computer screen.
The Mayor of A Complex … John is a normal-looking forty-something business person who at first glance doesn’t belong at Daybreak Place. He’s either a wacko, a loser or both. You decide. We labeled him The Mayor because he thinks he sees everything, knows everybody and somehow believes he is actually in-charge of the goings on. He governs all of us by spending every minute he’s home in the pool, on the deck or hanging over the rail from his second story apartment.
His apartment is furnished with an air mattress, a card table and two folding chairs. Two chairs? He’s never had a visitor, male or female, that any of us has ever seen. My guess is, he thinks he already has enough stuff and his need for companionship is satisfied by his mayoral activities.
His coolest trick is floating on his back on an air mattress in the pool while reading a library book suspended above him at a full arms length. He does this all day long. Have you ever tried holding something up over you for more than a few minutes? One dark morning- it was five AM- I went out to load our car and was surprised to see John floating in the pool, arms extended, reading his book by the underwater pool light.
Our Latin Drag Queen … One of our daily treats was seeing how our resident Drag Queen would dress for the evening. His/her daytime attire was flamboyant bell-bottom hip huggers with mesh lower legs, stiletto heeled boots, and a matching oversized shoulder bag. One evening he/she strutted down the stairs with spiked purple hair and clad in an exotic long flowing garment that could have be some sort of robe, caftan or Liberace’s old shower curtain. I nudged the Cheecoggo gang banger and asked what was going on in town tonight. He thought for a moment then said “Ozzfest."
I miss these folks.
©2007 by Bob Rockwell