Lenox, my red- headed, African American landlord nearly beat down my apartment door last evening.
“Is it the first of the month already?” I asked my lover while glaring through the peep hole on a steel door that separates our love nest from the horrors of the ghetto and Lenox’s bad dye job.
“What the hell does he want?” B. asked me.
“What do you want Lenox?” I barked while speaking to him through a tiny crack I had permitted the door to open to.
“Do you have a key to the basement? I lost mine and Con Edison fined me $100 last month because they do not have access to read the meters.”
I found the key and handed it to him without permitting him to step inside.
“Fuck! I screamed at B. Here comes a $600 electric bill. Con Ed hasn’t read that meter since July and we’ve been running these two electric heaters all winter.”
It is illegal to rent an apartment in New York City and not include heat and hot water as part of the rent, but Lenox, like the rest of corporate America, manages to side-step the laws and rents us a two bedroom apartment for $1,000 a month, without utilities included. I also pay him in cash, that way he does not have to claim the monthly rent that he sucks from us like an oil refinery to the IRS. Last winter, the heating bills nearly killed B. and me. With the price of oil skyrocketing, we made a decision to not turn on the boiler this year and run two portable electric heaters instead. My oil bill dropped drastically and the electric charges were estimated reasonably, until now.
Con Edison has been leaving me messages for months, trying to get inside to read those meters downstairs. It looks like finally, they will be able to charge me what I owe. I’m just glad it was Lenox who was fined the $100. At least with my $600 George W. Bush tax refund supplement on the way, I can spend the money just as the president wishes—on him and his friends like Lenox, who always seem to hold the key to financial success.