I moved to the place in which I currently reside at a time that could be described, unbeknownst to me, as tumultuous to the others living on the premises. I had assumed the people living in the large house attached to the garage apartment I had leased to be a typically happy-most-of-the-time-though-not always-because-that-would-be-creepy, but mostly just a routine-to-the-point-of-being-boring family, sort of like the one in which I grew up. Appearances, however, especially those of the initial, in-passing variety, can be quite misleading.
It was in a most abrupt way that I found out just how misled I had been by my own initial and rather naïve assumptions about the family whose adjoining apartment I was scheduled to lease through the duration of my visiting clerkship. I returned to the apartment one Thursday [at least I think it was Thursday; the days blur together and become indistinguishable from one another after having spent several consecutive unscheduled twenty-four hour blocks on duty] willing myself up the inside staircase [for which I tacitly thank the architect of the building each night or morning I must ascend or descend those stairs when the temperature is below zero degrees Celsius; the Gods who prevent accidents do not look kindly on me], wanting only to decontaminate myself briefly in a hot shower just enough that I wouldn't be carrying MRSA or whatever other nasty hospital pathogens might have adhered to my skin into my pristine bed, when I hear a roar coming from the direction of that very bed.
The creature from which the guttural sounds emanated appeared as though MRSA was probably the very least of his issues. I screamed, reached for my phone, backed out of the apartment , and dialed 911.
By this time, the my landlady appeared, demanding to know what I was doing there. "I leased this apartment,' I shrieked at her. "I fumbled through a drawer under a built-in desk near the apartment's entryway. I found the papers for which I was looking and held them up to her. "This is my copy of the lease, signed by both me and you!"
"Things have changed since then, " she explained, "My nephew now needs the apartment," she explained.
At this point, law enforcement appeared, their sirens destroying the pre-dawn tranquility of the normally placid upscale residential development, with the revolving police lighting turning the dusting of snow on the lawns into various hues of red, blue, and purple. The officer took a look at the lease I handed him, then turned to my landlady. "A lease is a contract, you know, " he told her. "Unless there's something in it specifying that the terms are null and void if your nephew or any other relative shows up, she has a right to assume that her apartment will be vacant and that her bed will be empty whenever she shows up."
"But it's my NEPHEW, you see, and my husband -er-boyfriend [this was my first clue that the man and lady of the house were living there without any sanction from God or the government of Canada] will not allow my nephew to sleep in our actual home because of something that happened when he spent another night here. It's cold out there, as you can clearly see. I couldn't leave my nephew to brave this weather on his own."
One of the officers responded with, "But you could leave this young lady, who is probably half his size and ten years younger than he is, out there to brave the cold weather on her own. . ."
The land lady smiled. "You understand!"
The officers both frowned. "No, we really don't," one of them responded.
"Are you the legal owner of this home?" one of the officers asked my landlady.
"For all purposes," she answered.
"But are you the LEGAL owner," the officer pursued.
"No," she conceded.
The officer turned to me. "Do you have the resources to get a decent hotel room for the next few days?" he asked me. I nodded affirmatively. "I suggest that you do that while this situation gets straightened out. I cannot promise you this, but my department will do what it can to see that you are reimbursed for you hotel expenses." Then he asked, "Do you have a way of contacting the legal homeowner, ideally as soon as possible?" I shared with them that he was a professor at the medical school at which I was serving a guest clerkship, and that I could catch him during his office hours during the day after getting some rest. The officer encouraged me to do so as soon as was practical, and gave me two copies of his card, one for my own use and one to share with the legal homeowner.
I checked into a cushy hotel for sleep, then dragged myself off to the medical school campus for what I expected would be an ugly confrontation. Instead, the landlord was, if anything, more appalled that I had been by what had transpired. He told me that he and the lady of the house were splitting. She would be leaving, as it had been his house for nearly twenty years. The woman merely moved in with him. The landlord insisted upon paying my full hotel bill, which would be for three nights. He also suggested that I would want to order new bedding rather than relying on the cleaning process to rid the bedding of the intruder's germs. He said he would have the mattress and sofa steam-cleaned, and that everything would be spotless when I returned on Sunday. I was skeptical of his offers of generosity, but when I checked out of my hotel room late on Sunday, I found that everything had been paid in full, and an envelope was handed to me. When I opened it, I found that I had been reimbursed for tips to the maids and servers. New bedding and towels - similar in color and style but of higher quality that what I had originally purchased, was in place where the old stuff had been.
I later learned that the landlord had lost his wife to pancreatic cancer about ten years earlier. The three kids -- two who were away at college and one who still lived at home -- were the product of him and his late wife. The woman had a daughter who lived in Australia somewhere, but had not visited in the two years the doctor and his housemate -- also a doctor -- had been together.
The doctor's two older children ( a 22-year-old daughter and a 24-year-old son) returned home the weekend following their father's girlfriend's departure. Their time home was mostly family time, from which I attempted to keep a discreet distance. Their father had a hospital-related social obligation on Saturday night, however, and the three children took advantage of their father's absence to throw a "Ding Dong! The Witch Is Gone!" celebration, to which I was invited. It was a relatively quiet affair as drunken revelries go, but it was clear from all three of them that there was no sadness in them in connection with the quasi-stepmother's departure. I had no idea. Everyone was so civil that I had no clue they weren't a biological family, much less a blended-without-the-sanctity-of-marriage family.
I stayed in my apartment, with occasional visits for meals or to play their Steinway grand piano, until I worked far too many consecutive hours and developed staphylococcal pneumonia, which led to a pneumothorax, at which time, following my release from the hospital, I was moved into the main part of their house. I was on my way back to the apartment when the father and seventeen-year-old son came down with massive cases of food-borne illness following ingestion of Thai food. The kid's illness was significantly worse than was his father's. Following that, I again exceeded allowable work hours by 100%, which resulted in my pneumothorax recurring. It was easier for the nurses hired to care for us to accomplish what they needed to do if I was in the main house.
Idle minds sometimes cannot handle the idea that a twenty-two--year-oold medical school student is sleeping in a separate bedroom in a house with a forty-six-year-old medical professor and his seventeen-year-old son. It cannot be simply because medical care is facilitated if the sick people are all in one place. And even if such were not the reason for all three remaining under one roof, whatever the reason were, it would clearly have to involve the female having sex with at least one of the males, and more likely, with both of them. Logically, as it would be more efficient for it to happen in such a manner, the three have their sexual frolics at the same time. Wouldn't it make sense?
The most interesting aspect to these rumors, to me anyway, and of I only recently became aware, is that it is not the hospital community spreading the information back and forth, but the mothers of students and the staff of a neighborhood elementary school. Our immediate neighbors seem not to be involved in this spread of misinformation (it's misinformation at this point, anyway; who knows what the future holds?), though we cannot know that for certain. It seems that those who are most concerned live blocks away from us.
I'm not certain why adults are so taken with what others who are of age in this matter (the age of consent in Canada is seventeen) are doing or are not doing with their private lives. They'll get an eye-full tomorrow, however, as the local high school's prom happens then. Evan, the seventeen-year-old son of the doctor from whom I am renting, was unceremoniously dumped by his prom date less than two weeks ago when a more prestigious offer came along. Evan's dad suggested that the two of us could make a date of it. I'm all for ensuring that the little hussy who dumped Evan should see him having a good time at his prom, so I said yes to the proposition. I'm not looking my very best at the moment, but I look at least as good as most of the dweeby high school seniors. I can hold my own.
But can the town biddies hold their tongues? My guess is no, they cannot.