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Cloyne Court, Episode Nine
By Dodie Katague
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Rated "R" by the Author.
Based on a true story that took place in Berkeley, California in the late 1970s.
I knocked on the door of Nine B. A female voice yelled for me to come in. A woman was sitting on the bed, with her right foot on the mattress, putting nail polish on her toenails. She was wearing a sheer orange kimono type bathrobe. To my surprise, she wasn’t wearing underwear, and her legs were parted.
“Hi, are you Sandy?” I said, still staring and becoming uncomfortable.
“Not here,” she said, without a hint of modesty. Maybe she didn’t know. I wasn’t sure what the protocol was for this sort of thing. I stood there shifting from leg to leg embarrassed.
“I’m moving in. Central Office sent me. I need to get my keys and figure out what room I’m in.”
“Oh, yeah. I remember your paperwork,” she said, trying to blow air on her big toe nail. “You’re in Four C. It’s a triple room on the ground floor. The last person took one look at it and decided to drop out of Berkeley.”
“Is there something wrong with it?” I said.
“No, but you’ll have two roommates, and your bathroom is down the main hall. Visitors and the wandering homeless also use that bathroom. Your room opens to the main hallway, and it can be noisy, especially during party weekends. If you need quiet, you can study in the basement study lounge.”
I looked around the large corner room with double-hung, double windows facing west and north. It had a breathtaking view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.
“I suppose this is the best room?” I asked, assuming the house manager would have the best.
“This is a great room. All the rooms on the west side have scenic views of the Bay. But there are better rooms. The four porch rooms that face the inner courtyard are in considerable demand. But if you get the second-story porch room, you have to know about the plants growing on the balcony deck. The owner climbs onto the deck to take care of the plants and can see into your room. Occasionally, people try to climb up and steal the plants.”
“Who’d want to steal plants?” I asked.
“They’re marijuana plants,” she said, as nonchalantly as if she had been talking about radishes in her garden. “And sometimes, the police come and haul the plants away. We have to let them in through the porch room.”
I wasn’t willing to risk police involvement at this early stage of my college career. I made a mental note to avoid this room. It turned out to be a lovely room with the sunshine streaming in from three sides of the enclosed sleeping porch, and it was a single room.
“You accumulate one point for each quarter you live here. At the beginning of each quarter, we take inventory of people who have moved out, and we auction their rooms. We have forty-five double rooms and forty-three single rooms of various sizes and locations, so you can find a roommate and combine your points to bid on rooms or you can try for a single room with the points you have, but single rooms are hard to obtain until you’ve been here a while.”
A man walked in to the room. The woman looked from her toenails and smiled at him. “Hey Sandy, this is Derek.”
Sandy was a guy. I had assumed, because the woman I was talking to was female, that naturally her roommate, the house manager, would be female. He was shirtless, perspiring heavily and carrying a basketball. He found a towel draped over a chair and wiped his brow with it. He came over, kissed the woman on the cheek and reached his hand into her kimono.
“You reek.” She winced. “Go take a shower.” She finished polishing her toenails on her right foot, extended her leg and waved it in a circle to air-dry it. She started on the second foot still oblivious to the view she was giving me.
“Hey Lisa, whose orange VW is parked in my spot on the driveway?” he asked.
Watch for Excerpt 10, tomorrow!
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