It was no surprise when I walked up the stairs & found the eviction papers taped to my apartment door. I was just surprised that they took so long to appear. When my new house-mates first rent check bounced however, I knew it was time to start packing. In a strange way it was exciting – I imagined the papers as a passport to a new life, like a baby bird kicked out of the nest and into a tornado.
Having a feeling that this was coming I had already began to prepare, and now my entire life was portable, fitting into two duffel bags and a backpack. I put the books I couldn’t bear to part with and a few sentimental things into boxes to be stored at a friend’s house, and after I had sold or given away everything I could, I set the rest out on the sidewalk and went back inside to clean.
San Francisco has a wonderful system – many people I know have furnished their entire apartments with treasures found on the street, and much of mine was as well – from the gorgeously ornate wrought-iron wall sconce the size of a semi-truck tire to the beautiful hand-blown glass bowl which I kept on the coffee table, filled with the soft glow of blue Christmas lights that I bought at a post-Halloween sale. They were cheap, so I stocked up. A person can never have enough tiny lights to practice their patience – or failing that – their cursing, as they tried to untangle them.
I put the remainder of my things in front of my apartment and went back upstairs to do some cleaning. After about an hour I glanced out the window & what was a somewhat sizeable pile before, with chairs, a couch, various lamps, clothes & random other things that had found their way into my apartment had almost entirely disappeared. It was as if I had missed the middle part of the sped-up video where the maggots clean a dead rat down to bone.
Curious about this phenomenon, I wanted to gather more of my things and set them out there, then peek out from behind a curtain with a video camera and watch what happened. I imagined that there was a network of scavengers who prowled the neighborhoods in cars & on foot, looking for piles such as the one I had put outside, and when they found one the alarm went out. They got on their phones or cupped their hands around their mouth & made strange animal calls, alerting the rest of the foragers to the booty. Of course, in my head, they weren’t normal people – they were some post-apocalyptic dystopian creatures, some with mechanical limbs, dressed in dusty black leather with wild hair & eyes, who had trailers made of steel & lethal stabby-things hooked to their flat-black Prius’s, and worked with lightning fast efficiency.
Unfortunately I didn’t have a video camera or anything else to set outside and lure them, so the mystery still remains unsolved.
I had previously announced on a social network my imminent eviction, and was offered a few places where I could rest my head by the wonderful community of freaks I called friends. Bean made it more difficult, as most were apologetically not able to host a tragic, homeless Klown as well as an 85 pound dog.
All except one, offered by a person named Bob who I had met only once before. It was a home in the middle of the Mission District of San Francisco, Bob spent five days of the week at work in New Jersey, flying back on the weekends on his employer’s dime, and the only other person who lived there was the woman who owned the house.
There was just one catch. Bob’s dog already called it home, and while to most humans he was the sweetest, most loving beast – he had been trained by a former owner to joyfully rip the throats out of any other animal he came within destroying distance of. Bean was welcome though, and that was the most important thing.
Bob picked me up a few days after we talked, and when we arrived at the house I couldn’t believe where I would be living. It was a beautiful two-story Edwardian house with an enormous beauganvilla draped over the entry gate, as if it were a portal to a different world. Shortly after, I realized how fitting that observation was as I met the owner (a woman who was perhaps in her late forties who had the look of someone who rated daily personal upkeep pretty low on the chart) & she told me about what the 2nd floor was primarily used for in this quiet, seemingly ordinary house, then took me on a tour.
“I’m going to give you some chores to do while you’re staying here.” She said as we started walking up the stairs.
“Sure, of course. No problem.”
“If a certain room is booked twice in a day it’s the girls job to clean it for the next, but I want you to come up here when it’s empty at least once a day and make certain things are in their place and the room is clean. Don’t worry – the girls are responsible for anything that gets soiled with any kind of body fluids, you just need to take the bags of towels down to the wash room & straighten up.”
Girls? Body fluids? Vague, seedy images started coming to my mind, but I couldn’t have expected what I was led into.
She led me from room to room, each room designed perfectly for its use. I thought that I wasn’t naïve, already being a part of the BDSM scene pretty heavily for a few years at that time, but this was another level. I’d heard about it, of course – but I could have never before then imagined them on the second floor of a house that looked just like any other nice place when you first walked inside. Living room, kitchen, laundry room, nice looking but nothing at all hinting at what was found at the top of the stairs.
I tried to keep my jaw from dropping open and looking like an idiot as she opened the doors to the various rooms and led me inside of each. A medical fetish room complete with steel trays with various strange implements and a surgery table, a baby fetish room with a crib, flowery wallpaper, drawers full of pacifiers & diapers, and of course, the BDSM room. Walls lined with hanging floggers, canes, cats, paddles & so much more, a beautiful St Andew’s Cross, a cage – it was elegant. Exquisite. I was in complete awe, feeling like a kid in a candy store… and this is the house I would be living in, at least temporarily.
From sleeping on beaches, in abandoned warehouses, and living with my meth dealer as a teenager, I’d felt I’d really stepped up my homeless game. What I didn’t know at the time was that the woman who had just taken me in would end up being quite a challenge to live with. While at first she seemed stable and at least tolerably balanced, I would soon start to understand that she was pretty far from sane…