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After a Moment of Desperation, You've Moved in with a Stranger

by Joel Golby
14 August 2019, 12:18pm

Photo: Emily Bowler

First move in the city and you're on an extremely limited budget, so you end up moving to this kind of great actually (weirdly cheap for what it is!) high art flat in Barbican after one 15-minute meeting and a four-email back-and-forth, and now you're here with all your things – you only own enough to fill one suitcase and a backpack! You moved here on the bus! – and the strange guy you’re now living with (age: 45? Age: 100?) who is dressed all in black and has a turtleneck and wool fedora on, even though it's mid-July, and wears shades indoors is helping you with your bags.

"Welcome, welcome," he says, like an eerie doorman at a vampire’s castle. "Tea?" Cup of tea would be good actually. He has a weird intricate tea process that involves two pots, three spoons and an intensely mysterious tin of loose leaf. "Ceylon," he purrs, handing you what is essentially milk in an ashtray. He resettles his legs.

"Now, our arrangement," he says. "Two options: you can sleep on the sofa for free if you let me comb your hair. Or you can sleep in my king-sized bed for money if you let me lick your feet." Ah. It’s one of those ones. Sip your ash-milk and think about this. You do need… money. But also: you do like the sensation of having dry and unlicked feet. But then… money. But then: his tongue looks like a boiled pork chop. But… the money. Time to negotiate.

"Sofa during the week, bed one night at weekends, you can lick my feet once a month for £200." Done and done. All goes fine until you wake up one night and find him padding around in the blue–black of the night, gently lowering your hand into a bowl of water to make you piss yourself. "Sorry, I’m just—" he says, crumpling and afraid. "I'm just very deeply naughty."

If you wanted me to piss, mate, you should have asked and offered a price. Now give me all my used socks I know you have in your room. I'm moving out.

YOUR LANDLORD OFFERS YOU THE SOCKS BACK, BUT HONESTLY YOU DON'T REALLY WANT THEM BECAUSE THEIR TEXTURE IS NOW… SOLID, SO INSTEAD YOU NICK A TENNER OFF THE SIDE, SPRINT BAREFOOT INTO THE NIGHT AND STOCK UP AT UNIQLO THE NEXT DAY. THERE WASN’T A DEPOSIT, BUT YOU DO GET SOME WEIRD LATE-NIGHT EMAILS ADDRESSED TO "MY FAVOURITE………………" FOR A FEW MONTHS AFTERWARDS. POINT IS: YOU'VE LOST AT RENTING.

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