Linda the Leech by Crad Kilodney
“Can’t you find any normal, good-looking white women to rent to, for Christ’s sake?”
This is what I’ve been bitching about to my landlords for twelve years. Mark and Vic, the two sons who run the building, always find this amusing. It’s as if they deliberately rent to foreigners and wackos just to frustrate me. But their response to my complaint is always the same: “It’s whoever shows up.” At Isabella and Sherbourne, I’m a victim of demographics.
One summer day in 1996, however, I passed a gorgeous blonde in the back yard and was so startled I almost forgot to acknowledge her greeting. She was tall, slim, well-dressed, and about my age. First chance I got, I asked Vic about her. “Her name’s Linda. She’s divorced. She just moved here from B.C. That’s all I know about her. She’s in 1A, on your side.” (That put her on the ground floor, right next to the front entrance. I was on the top floor.)
I felt like I’d lucked out at last. I was wondering how to go about meeting her, but she solved the problem for me. On my way back from the bank I saw her leaning out of her front door, waiting for me. “Hi,” she said. “I need a friend.” (I swear I’m not making this up.)
So I stepped inside and sat in the arm chair. She sat on the couch opposite me. She offered me some wine, but I declined. “I like a bit of wine now and then,” she said. She was half-way through a large bottle.
Her place was a bit cluttered. She had tons of clothes but no books. Beside my chair was a carton of food from the food bank. She wasn’t working. She complained that the government didn’t give her enough to live on. I kept my mouth shut and let her do most of the talking. It’s the only way to size people up.
She was an army brat who had lived in a dozen different places in Canada and Europe. She was divorced three times and had two grown sons in B.C., who were gay and who rejected her. Her mother was a wicked witch who had kicked her out of the house and refused to let her see her dying father. She showed me a photo album featuring herself as a Sixties go-go girl, complete with mini-skirt and boots. She looked hot. “I did a bit of modeling. I was thinking of getting back into it. But first I have to get over this cold and my bad back. I’m telling you, it’s just one thing after another.”
The term for this is “work-avoidance.”
She wasn’t too bright either. When I said I was an agnostic, she didn’t know what the word meant. Here was a woman of my generation who had miraculously sailed through the Sixties apparently without any intellectual development. After an hour, I decided I had better things to do than watch this woman drink wine, so I made an excuse to leave.
My first impression was not good, but she had a gorgeous body, and I was horny, so I didn’t want to give up prematurely.
Ten o’clock that evening she calls me up, sounding drunk. “Can ya do me a big favor?”
“Just look after my dog for me while I go to the hospital. I fell down and hurt my neck.”
I went downstairs. Her dog, Buttons, growled at me, which was unusual because I get along very well with dogs. Buttons, however, was a neurotic dog that had obviously witnessed many domestic blow-ups. “She’s my protector,” Linda explained.
I asked her what had happened. She pointed to the window screen, which had been punched out from the inside. “They tried to break in,” she said. “They left me for dead.”
“My ex-husband. I fell over the coffee table and broke my neck.” Right, I got the picture. People just fall down for no reason all the time.
Reader, take this free bit of wisdom. It’s worth a B.A. in psychology from any reputable university: you will never get the truth about anything from an alcoholic. Some of their lies are carefully contrived, but most they actually believe.
The paramedics arrived. Buttons barked at them in fright. My instructions were to feed the dog and walk her in the morning. I was given the keys, and Linda got wheeled away to the ambulance.
I’m upstairs at one a.m. when the phone rings. “I’m back,” says Linda. “They decided to send me home with a brace for my neck.”
I avoided Linda for a week. Then she called me up one evening. “Whyncha c’mon down fer a li’l drink?”
“I’d rather not.”
“You sound drunk.”
“Zat a problem?”
“Yeah, I’d rather see you when you’re sober.”
Another two weeks passed. I was feeling horny, so, against my better judgment, I called her. She was drunk and didn’t recognize my voice at first. Then she said, “You knew I was in trouble dincha? Howja know?”
“Uh…well…just had the inspiration to call, that’s all.”
“Can I come up?”
“Sure.” I was thinking of sex.
One of her ex-husbands was drunk and asleep on her couch. They’d had a row. She made her way up three flights of stairs with some difficulty. When she smiled, she looked beautiful, however. And she wore sexy clothes. Then I saw two bottles of beer sticking out of her handbag, and I knew absolutely that I was not going to get laid.
We sat at the kitchen table. I was glum because she was too drunk for fucking and too stupid for good conversation. I let her talk and watched her drink her beer. At one point she said she was a very complicated person. Five minutes later, she said she was a simple person.
“Five minutes ago, you said you were a complicated person,” I said, deadpan.
She let it pass and resumed her train of thought, such as it was. “All my life, all I’ve ever really wanted was to have a man to take care of,” she said. (Translation: “All my life, all I’ve ever wanted was to have a man take care of me.”) Her ex-husband downstairs was to blame for her being drunk because he brought the case of beer. She said this without any sense of irony as she sat across from me and finished off her second bottle.
So this was the pattern: Linda had to leech off of one or more of her ex-husbands because she didn’t want to work. When the rent came due, she had to make nice with whoever had money for her. They were all alcoholics, so they would bring beer as well as the rent money. In return, she had to put out, which was no big deal to her. Inevitably, a fight would break out once they remembered they hated each other’s guts.
When Linda got up to leave, she asked me to escort her part-way down the stairs. But first, she asked, “Do I get a hug?” So I gave her one. Her body was firm. I had a moment of sad longing.
A week later, she called and asked for a loan of forty dollars. I declined politely. I was not going to be a host for this parasite.
Mark and Vic had become very unhappy with her. She was chronically late with the rent, and they had to fix the bathroom door, which just happened to get kicked in. She also complained that the toilet was leaking, although it wasn’t. “She’s nuts,” said Mark.
Vic confided that one day when he went to collect the rent, she said to him suggestively, “I’m good for more than just rent.” Vic had the good sense not to get involved.
After about a year, Linda’s luck ran out. She finally got an eviction notice. I bumped into her on the front steps. She was drinking wine and feeling very sorry for herself. “This has never happened to me before.” Yeah, right. She had managed to avoid working during the whole time she had lived there.
Linda left behind two big bags of excess clothing in the lobby when she moved out. Unfortunately, there was no underwear. I know because I looked.
Afterwards, I saw her in the neighborhood a few times, but she didn’t see me. One time I saw her with this old guy, obviously one of her ex-husbands. She was well-dressed and looked quite beautiful. I’ll admit that the thought crossed my mind that I could definitely fuck her if I wanted to, but as you get older you attach less importance to an orgasm for the sake of an orgasm.
Some mail kept coming for her after she was gone. One envelope was from Social Services. I opened it. It was a form regarding welfare payments. I sent it back with an anonymous note:
“This woman is a hard-core deadbeat. She has no intention of ever working. She will tell you any sob story to get money, but she’s nothing but a liar and a leech. Don’t give her a cent!”
by Crad Kilodney
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Crad Kilodney, P.O. Box 72577, 345 Bloor St. East, Unit 7, Toronto, ON, M4W 3S9
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