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Editorial - When Do I scream? - On Renting In Kits

Sam North - January 2003

You ever regret something just seconds after you did it? That sort of chill you get when you walk away from a situation and realise that you have probably made a huge mistake but there’s nothing you can do about it now. It’s done. You signed. Dr Faustus would know what I was talking about.

I have rented this apartment. It’s a bit run down but being by the bay and the beach and all the best coffee bars the city has to offer I figured I would overlook the exhausted state of the cupboards, the wonky stove and scruffy shag pile. There’s no view, but it is on the sunny side of the building and that’s important to me. There is, however, something strange about the building. OK, I confess it’s a deal because someone passed away in there and well there’s a number of people in this town who wouldn’t live in a place anyone died in. Ever. I figure that I must have lived in twenty places where people died in by now, after all in the UK or Africa it’s pretty normal, even preferable to die at home in your sleep - so that’s not what worries me.

The storage room, now that is a little worrying. The locker over from mine has piles of boxes that say ‘Live Ammo’ and ‘Explosives’ on their sides. They are military green metal boxes and it kind of disturbs me. If that isn’t weird enough, the storage locker on the other side has just one old wooden box lying in the middle of it marked ‘Timmy’. It is a tad freaky - but only if ‘Timmy’ is still inside it of course. There are however curious scratch marks on the concrete walls down there leading up to the barred windows and a damp musty smell. Whilst I was looking around, an old dear walked in, wearing a pink housecoat and riding boots. It was novel I grant you, but strangely sinister.

’All perfectly normal in a building as old as this,’ I was told. ‘Everyone except you is an owner occupier.’
Most of them since it was new in 1958 it seems. There would be people on E-Bay who’d die to get hold of the antique fridge in my apartment, never mind the shower nozzle, which must have been designed for an elephant to use.
Up on the fourth floor a tenant told me that hadn’t seen the occupant of number 419 since 1999 and the mail is stacking up. There was a strange strangled noise coming from 412 that could have been a goat, but then again…

I was in a hurry to get settled. I kind of overlooked the orange walls and flecked carpets, but now I think about it, it could have been blood. Who knows? The balconies are strange too, everyone has encased them, so no one can see out, and little sunlight can penetrate. I imagine these old folks in their rooms sitting in darkness the merest crack of sunlight slipping under the door, listening to Anne Murray and the creaking walls waiting for the fresh meat to arrive. No wait, that was Delicatessen, that was a movie, right? Oh my God, I have moved into ‘that’ building!
My sister says it’s all in my imagination, but unhelpfully her kid Tasha went onto Google and found out that there have been three unexplained deaths in that block in the last four years (according to the local Gleaner).

But now I’m loading the tables and beds I bought and I’m wondering, as the rest of you worry about global war…have I made a terrible mistake? Is there some demented senior stalking the corridors in this building, his or her pockets filled with grenades from the ‘live ammo’ box, hoping to take us all with him to the grave or scared Saddam is going to move in next door? People get crazy like that. They get cranky.

(The neighbour where I am now gets up every morning at 5am and revs his car for an hour before driving off. You just never get used to it. He does it even in summer. The other neighbour digs his garden all year around. Grows nothing. Just digs. Across the road they train their dog to hunt churchgoers. Not well enough it seems, attendance is well up.)

I wanted to move to a quiet place, with fresh sea air, but as I load the van…. I kind of wish I’d looked around more. If you don’t hear from me again…just don’t, whatever you do, rent apartment 406, no matter how cheap the rent looks.

Jan/Feb 2003 bumper issue out now!
Lots of great fiction, amazing travel journals through Latin America and Laos and comments about the upcoming war and about the way we live now.
Read and pass it on.

PS: In case I forgot to shout it from the rooftops. Congratulations to Hazel Marshall (one of our former regulars for selling her novel to Oxford University Press- due out in January 2004. More about that near the time. Great work Hazel I know it will be a big succcess

© Sam North 2003

Previous Editorials:

Winter Escape to the UK
Hacks takes a break
What will you seeing at the movies? November
'The city where everyone gets to live a millionaire lifestyle'
It’s SECTION 9 in the N.Y. Sunday Times
A cornucopia - October
The Kids stay in the picture- August
Hacks visits the new Museum of Glass in Tacoma- August
Hot Sweats in a Cold Read at the Anza Club- August
LIFE ON FAST FORWARD - Vancouver on speed -September
SweetSista'Shorts Carousel Theatre- Granville Island - Off Fringe
ROUNDHOUSE is celebrating its FIFTH ANNIVERSARY. - September
Arts in the Community is for real -
Time to enrol
Vancouver Film Festival Trade Show report

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