ALL OVER COFFEE BY PAUL MADONNA
The Eviction Series
I left the open house feeling dizzy—I mean, one-point-eight million dollars for a box? How was I supposed to afford that? Let alone live in something so small?
I had to stop to catch my balance. As I leaned against the building a pregnant woman burst out the door.
“God dammit!” she was yelling. I’d seen her inside. With hopeful eyes she and a man had been purring sweet to the real estate agent. Now she was waving her arms and spitting fire. “I thought these were supposed to be the baby lovers?”
The man stepped out behind her, his head down, rifling confusedly through an over-stuffed folder of papers. “I know, me too…”
The woman suddenly doubled over. She looked like she was going to be sick, or might be having intense baby cramps. Then she reached under her shirt and tugged out a large belly-shaped pillow, and when she stood up straight again she was no longer pregnant.
“Crap,” the guy said, slapping his hand against a sheet in his folder. “These were the dog people. Or no. Wait…”
The woman screamed and spun around in a circle. “Eddy! Come on man! You have to stay organized! How are we ever going to get a place if we don’t fit the absolute perfect mold of what the landlord is looking for?” Then she stormed off. “Let’s go. We have three other places to see in this neighborhood.”
I decided to follow them. Trailing half a block behind I was led into another building, up two flights of stairs, and into an open apartment where I found at least two dozen people crowding into a circle. They all appeared to be yelling, but I couldn’t hear a thing. I wiggled my finger into my ear, thinking maybe it was me. Then I heard someone say, “Go on. Go in.” And I turned to see the woman from earlier, her arms crossed, smirking. Her man was behind her, eyeing me. “Go ahead,” she said. “That is, if you think you can.” And she motioned toward the crowd, who were all jumping and waving their arms like mute stock brokers at a soundless heavy metal concert.
I took a step forward but smacked into an invisible wall. I stumbled backwards and the woman laughed. Then she held out her hand and pressed it against a perfectly clear glass surface, like Marcel Marceau miming a routine. “They’re having a bidding war in there,” she said. “Auctioning up the price of rent as if this dump were the last dwelling left on earth.”
I reached out and tentatively felt what I could only describe as a giant contact lens. “It’s a bubble,” the woman said. “One small and ridiculous microcosm inside the already small and ridiculous bubble that is San Francisco.”
Paul Madonna writes and draws All Over Coffee, the weekly series published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on theRumpus.net. His stories and drawings have been published internationally and exhibited in galleries and museums. He is the author of two books, All Over Coffee (City Lights 2007), and Everything is its own reward (City Lights 2011), which won the 2011 NCBR Recognition Award for Best Book. Find more of his work at paulmadonna.com. We are stoked to have his work on our site as well.