Sunday, October 29, 2017

Scariest story winner

The start of the tale:
Ok, here goes. Writing this out makes me want to barf.

I was a news reporter right out of college, reporting on dismal topics in dismal towns. After three or four years of this, with the help of a friend, I landed an interview at an ad agency in Cincinnati. I got a job writing speeches and press releases and doing the usual early-pr-career grunt work. After stints in Alaska and West Virginia, Cincy seemed like a metropolis, and I picked a totally refinished first-floor apartment off of Craigslist. It was $400 a month and not in a great part of town, though the landlord assured me it was changing. Besides: in West Virginia, I was living in an old furniture factory for $300 a month and kicking crackheads off the front stoop. This place sounded like paradise.

My huge black dog Dozer and I drive down the street for the first time- a library! A record store! Restaurants! I pull up to my building, a few blocks down from the retail stuff, and it’s… not at all as described. The vestibule for the apartment is caked with grime. But I already have my key and I open the door to find an almost eerily perfect apartment. Everything is brand-new. The main room is in front. White carpet, white walls, a refinished bathroom, a boring but tidy kitchen. Huge windows, high ceilings. In the back is a small bedroom with a door leading out to a tiny, three-step back stoop and a little fenced backyard.

Over the next couple of weeks my friend helps me meet people, including her friend Alan. He’s great; we kind of friend hang out and kind of boyfriend-girlfriend hang out. Who knows. I have to drive around the state a lot for work and he watches Dozer while I’m gone- I always go to his place to pick her up on my way home.

The first time I do this, I come into the back of the apartment with my bags and race to the bathroom to pee.

The seat is up, and I fall right into the toilet. I figure Alan left it up, and unpack, go running with Dozer, etc.

A couple of weeks later, I have to travel again. I leave my keys with Alan so he can pick up Dozer after he gets off work. Same routine: I pick her up two days later and go straight home, in through the back bedroom door.

I go to the bathroom and sit down again; again, I fall right into the toilet. I think: I need to ask Alan not to do this when he picks up Dozer; it’s so weird. I walk out of the other bathroom door and into the main room.

Everything there is covered with a thick layer of dust, as if I’d been gone for years.

It covers my dining room table- the stray coffee cup I’d left there. It’s sunk into my mom’s old velvet couch, on my picture frames, onto every nook and cranny of the huge yellow hutch against the wall. It’s on the windowsills, on every handle of every drawer. Only the inside handle of the front door is perfectly clean. The door is locked.

I realize the white carpet is filled with even more dust- it’s white-on-white so I hadn’t noticed. I get out the vacuum and I fill two bags. I call the (Seattle-based) landlord and say that if he’s renovating other parts of the building they need to chill on the construction dust. He says he’s “short on funds at the moment” and my renovation was and will be the only one.

After that I’m home for a couple of weeks and everything’s… fine. I figure the air ducts burped out some old gross stuff. For my next trip, the usual. I come home with Dozer and the seat’s up. I had teased Alan about it and he’d said: I’ve never used the bathroom in your apartment.

I go out into the main room and the box of pictures from college I’d dragged around for a couple years was on a dining room chair.