Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hell Hole

Hate is a strong word, but when you’re alarm clock is set to 6:30 a.m. and your upstairs neighbor starts hammering the floor boards in his apartment right above your bed two hours before the alarm is supposed to go off, not many other words come to mind, except maybe murder.

This is the fifth day of the second time I’ve lived in Erlanger, Kentucky. It’s a hell hole, but when my stepfather, Robert, died Final Destination-style from a freak propane gas stove explosion I decided to move to back to the Bluegrass state to help my mom out.

The explosion occurred in the kitchen of their 1950’s ranch-style house, blowing out all of the windows and burning the majority of the kitchen, master bedroom and not to mention, Robert.

The investigation by the insurance company concluded that the fire was caused by a leak in the gas line connected to the stove, but the main explosion actually occurred in the bed room. That’s not uncommon for gas leaks except the explosion of the magnitude that killed my stepfather would only happen at the source of the leak. Also, Robert’s scorched body was found with him clutching a machete. He probably looked like Skeletor.

I’ve rented this studio apartment off of Dixie Highway. There are four restaurants with the word “chili” in their name, a gas station that serves ice cream and six churches of different denominations within walking distance of my front door.

I’ve been listening to my neighbor hammer different areas of the floor of his apartment for the last five minutes. Our rented spaces have the exact same layout. Based on the size of the room there’s only one place you can put your bed. My assumption is that he’s pounding nails in to the four corners of where his bed is located. Maybe he’s constructing homemade bed risers. That would make sense for storage purposes in a 500 square foot apartment, but what doesn’t make sense is why this fucking Bob Vila wannabe is remodeling his apartment at 4:35 a.m.

The hammering has become more furious, so I have to time my knocking. The deadbolt unlocks quickly. He’s much younger than I figured, about 21. I would expect to be complaining about loud music for someone his age, not late night home improvement projects. His small frame blocks the view into his studio. Perspiration has accumulated on his forehead and he’s sweat through his t-shirt.

“You can’t be hammering in the middle of the night, man.” Stepping in to the hallway he closes the door behind him. “Here.” he says not listening to a word I just said. I look down and he’s pulled a machete from behind his back and put it in my hand pushing my fingers around the handle. “You can help.”

Stepping back I drop the machete almost taking off a couple of my toes. “Help with what?!” Turning back in to his apartment, he motions me to follow. “I’m Kevin and I hate to inform you, but this place is a hell hole.” I step inside the door and stare at the floor where he’s pointing. He’s not building bed risers. There is no bed, only a steel sheet nailed to the floor that looks like the Incredible Hulk has tried punch through it. “They’ll be coming back soon.”

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