All Over Coffee By Paul Madonna
The Eviction Series
I realized I had not been home in two days. At least not inside. Not since I’d found the eviction notice on my door. Seeing that had made me panic. I ran out to find a new place to live only to see how cutthroat the market really was. Now I felt beaten and needed to rest.
Back home I found my front door plastered with nine more eviction notices. Did my landlord think I couldn’t read? A bicycle tour group pulled up in front of my building. A dozen or so people, all on rental bikes with fanny packs strapped to the front. The leader pointed to my building and announced through a megaphone: “This is number 54 on this week’s no-fault eviction tour.” Then he chuckled. “But of course it will be available at market rate in no time.”
Inside, the flat felt different. I was keenly aware of all my things, that I would have to touch every object and decide what to keep and what to toss. The thought was overwhelming. Because the truth was, I had way too much stuff. Ten years had turned my place into a stuff hotel. Items checked in, but they didn’t check out.
I went into the bedroom. It was afternoon and warm sunlight glowed at the southern window. I collapsed onto the bed and stared at the view that would be mine no more. A silly thing to be sentimental about. It wasn’t like the view was going to miss looking at me.
I was surprised by how hard I was taking this. Yes the flat was charming, but it was far from perfect. The windows were drafty, the electrical outlets were both two-pronged and too few, and the heater was a joke. I called the place home, but was it? After a decade, living here was more habit than choice. I could probably walk every inch in complete darkness and not bump into any walls or furniture, but was that really something to be proud of? How much did routine behavior create routine thought? Maybe I was stuck in a rut here and didn’t know it. Maybe this eviction was just what I needed. Wow, I thought. Look at me. Mister Lemonade.
This interlude of optimism must have just been me dozing, though, the result of my mind hovering in that place where you think you’re conscious but are actually asleep, because a loud pounding jolted me awake. I looked out the window to see the bike tour group on the roof next door. One of the guys was trying to plant a flag. Over and over he kept jabbing at the roof until finally the pole broke through and stuck.
I couldn’t make out any emblem. The fabric was white and the wind was whipping but the flag looked as though it might be blank. Which would have been pretty cool. After all, San Francisco had been allowing itself to be remade for centuries, which was one of the things I loved about the place. But then I realized the flag wasn’t actually blank. There was an emblem, but something was preventing me from seeing it. A sort of blurred out-ness, like when the local news showed footage of nudity. Suddenly a face popped in my window and I jumped back. It was one of the bikers. She held up her phone and pointed to the screen. “To continue,” she said, “You’ll need to give us your email and click this box. It’s our terms and conditions.”
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.