Louie was not the most attentive of landlords. Often it would take four phone calls to get anything done in my little studio in the Rampart District. Luckily I was rarely there, so I didn't have much time to dwell over the inadequacies of my living situation.
When JW and I decided to move into our current place, I gave my 30 days notice to Louie at the end of January, which he graciously accepted. Still, I harbored no illusions about how easy it was going to be for me to get my deposit back. March 1st rolled around and I touched up the paint and scrubbed and vacuumed and generally left the place FAR better than I found it; incidentally, the list of improvements I made to the place on my own dime includes a nice paint job (thanks to the help of friends Matt, Trista, Rob, Todd, and Nathan), new blinds, a new toilet seat, and my refrigerator (which was an enormous improvement over the ancient crapbox that the apartment manager and I put on the curb when I moved in). When I finished I left a message on Louie's voicemail giving him my new address, JUST IN CASE he had the decency to get my deposit to me within the 21-day legal period.
About a month-and-a-half later, I was unpacking in JW's and my new place, and I thought, "hey, now's as good a time as any to try in vain to get that money back from Louie. I'll just give him a call!" In a rare bit of good luck, he answered, and he even said he would be happy to bring the check to me at my own apartment. I was stunned; he said he was just meeting some friends for lunch at Campanile, which is really close to my place, and he'd be over when he was finished; if I'd just give him an hour he'd be right over. He took my address and hung up. Just to digress for a moment -- who meets friends for lunch at Campanile? I'm sure someone does, but I'm pretty sure lameass unresponsive landlords don't.
About two hours later we talked on the phone (I'm a little fuzzy on this detail -- I can't remember if I called him or he called me) and he said, "Hey Kyle, I'm with some friends at Rita Flora (see, I told you!) and I've had a little bit to drink. I'm buzzin' pretty hard and I don't think I should drive."
If I had any sense I would've said, "then I'll just walk up to Rita Flora and get the check from you." But no, I was too content to enjoy my Saturday and assume that lameass buzzin' landlord owns a book of stamps and can mail me a check. "Just mail it to me, Louie. You have my address. Just mail it, alright?"
"Hey man, thanks. I'll get it to you."
A couple of weeks later -- sometime around the 1st of May, I think -- I thought to call him again. I got his voice mail. No response.
Tonight on the way home I remembered again to do this. This time I had the good sense to call on our landline, which lists as "unknown caller" on caller ID. He picked up on the second ring, sounding half-dead as he spoke.
"Oh yeah, Kyle, I owe you...uh...how much do I owe you?"
I reminded him of the amount. He continued.
"Right. Uh, hey, do you mind coming here and I'll meet you and I can give it to you then? I'm at Hollywood and Bronson? By the Tommy Burger. Yeah, just meet me at Tommy Burger. Hey man, I'm sorry to make you come all this way--"
It was good of him to apologize, considering that I live below Wilshire, and I'd called around the tail-end of rush-hour; we're talking 20-30 minutes one way in the car.
"--but I mean, come on, you're getting $XXX out of it, right? Alright, cool. I'll see you."
All the way to Tommy Burger I imagined scenarios of my reading him the riot act he deserved. Telling him he was lucky I didn't take him to small claims court. Calling him out for his utter lack of courtesy, of human decency. Refusing to shake his hand when he met me with the check. Spitting at him as I walked away, even. I seriously could not wait to let him have it.
I pulled into Tommy's parking lot and turned off the car. I rolled down my windows. I grabbed a script from my back seat and started to read, occasionally looking around for a sign of Louie. After a moment I started to feel like I was participating in something less than reputable. There I was in my work clothes, sitting in a parked car in the parking lot of a fast food joint with my windows down. I noticed a security guard, wondered if he was keeping his eye on me. I spotted a couple of women in trashy clothes walking by. I became certain Louie was not going to come and I was going to be arrested for attempting to solicit prostitutes in the parking lot of a Tommy Burger on Hollywood Boulevard. A petite blonde woman with bad skin and thick make-up approached my car. She was smoking a cigarette and looked very much the worse for wear. I avoided eye-contact, pretending to be absorbed in the play that I was reading. She finally spoke.
"Are you Kyle?"
I looked up. She squinted in the car at me, taking a drag on her cigarette. I nodded yes.
"Oh, okay, Louie sent me. Oh wait, what's your last name?"
"Okay, good." She came around to the passenger's side. Both my windows were down. As she tried the door, I thought to myself "she is NOT about to get in my fucking car." Luckily it was locked. She tossed her cigarette on the pavement and started to dig in her purse. She pulled out a handful of CDs. "Louie wanted you have these."
She handed them to me through the open window: four identical, wrapped CDs, each with his picture on them. Louie is apparently a fledgling recording artist, and his solo effort, Daddy, featured a picture of him posing with an older man -- presumably his father. Needless to say I found this moving in no way whatsoever.
"Anyway, here's the check. He just wants you to initial there to say it was paid in full. Oh, here, I have a pen." I initialed and gave the pen back to her. She looked at me and smiled.
"Bye." I said. In case you were wondering, "bye" in this instance meant, "step away from my car, please." She did, and I pulled out of the parking lot and headed back home.
Safely back on my way home, I held one of Louie's self-produced CDs in my hand and marveled at how bizarre this city is. Tommy Burger? Vain attempts at self-promotion and/or apology-by-bribing with embarrassing folkrock CDs? Sent by messenger, no less? And why did he have to send her as messenger? Was he was just too incapacitated from the weed he'd surely been smoking all day to bother to show his face to me, or did he know any exchange with me would be one better avoided? I assumed the former, assuming also that the blonde's second errand after giving me the check was picking up a chiliburger and some fries to take care of his munchies.
When I got home I pulled out the digital camera. Here are some pictures of the CDs.
Four, count 'em, four copies. Am I supposed to give them to my friends?
Louie, there's this great new invention called A BELT. Think about it.
Daddy contains such compelling tracks as "Last Train to Heaven", "Daddy's Dog Spot", "Missing U", and "Essence O' Me."
I wish I could've gotten a better shot of this sticker. It contains a picture of Louie sporting a cowboy hat and bad sideburns, framed by text that reads "Triple Threat - is Louie the greatest songwriter/singer/guitarist?"
If you'd like to listen to a sample, check here. If you can imagine what a dumbass-loser-cheapskate-slumlord-coward-landlord-whose-check-is-probably-going-to-bounce sounds like when he's ripping off Dave Matthews, don't bother.