As the weather turned warm yesterday, the Mexicans and other South and Central Americans were outside in the back lot of our tenement building, sanding and painting furniture. It seems there is a tradition in these cultures, similar to ‘spring cleaning’ performed for generations by North Americans, that calls for the destruction of perfectly fine wood furniture and ruining it with a coat of black enamel spray paint.
These people exhibit symptoms of hoarding, similar to what is broadcast on the new hit television show Hoarders. Lucy, the Puerto Rican woman who lives across the hallway from me is the worst of these brown skin hoarders and it seems the smell of the paint in the air out back caused her ADHD to spin out of control yesterday. The woman with dyed red hair was up and down the stairs non stop, slamming the metal door that leads to the outdoor area of our property, causing a commotion as my boyfriend and I tried to get high in peace.
Lucy hasn’t spoken to us since late January. I told her to stop knocking on my door so often and that I did not need the plates of cooked food she often tries to give away to my lover and me. Lucy accepts donations from a group of church missionaries who run a food bank on Wednesdays across the street. The food they give out is from the trash bins of a local Shop Rite– the lettuce is quite wilted but that never stops Lucy from whipping up a type of coleslaw from the heads of mush. B and I both came down with a terrible stomach virus one weekend last summer after eating what we thought was a part of a chicken with a pork chop bone in it.
“We don’t need your food, Lucy,” was what I said firmly at the end of January, looking her right in her brown eyes and trying not to stare too long at a fake blue gem stuck into the left nostril of her nose. The face nose gem caught a fleeting ray of light just as she turned and walked back into her apartment filled with furniture the hoarder has collected from out back in the garbage.
“I will never knock again,” she threatened as she stormed away in January.
“So don’t ask me to carry up any more furniture from downstairs,” I insisted before her door was completely shut.
The Mayan couple who where out back spray painting a kitchen table yesterday threw away a wooden platform bed and a chest of drawers. We could see it all from our window. The heavy oak frame bed was placed neatly alongside a pile of black garbage bags. My lover suggested that I go outside late at night and sneak it into our apartment since our futon mattress rests on the floor.
No sooner had B made the suggestion than we heard the slam of the steel door downstairs. We glanced out the window and took note of the old red-haired woman slowly pulling the heavy frame into the hallway downstairs.
B started to laugh. “That bitch took our bed,” he said, loud enough, I’m sure, to be heard by Lucy downstairs. She took the chest of drawers too. How could she possibly fit that furniture inside their place? They have so much shit over there already. All of it came from out back, of that , I’m sure. Already she has been through three sofas, and your dumb ass carried them all up and down the stairs for her. Finally, I see something I want, and she’s out there putting claim to it. I don’t care. Let her have it,” B said, blowing a puff of smoke through the screen in the window.
“I’m going to take our trash out back. I’ll be back in a minute,” I said to B.
“Oh, Papi, would you please help me carry these things upstairs,” Lucy begged.
“Why not get one of these young men to help you, Lucy. My back hurts.” The black eyes of three young Spanish boys turned to onyx as I said this. Their glare was like that of the Virgin of Guadalupe upon a sinner, they did, however, help Lucy the hoarder to carry the bed and drawers up the stairs.
I awoke this morning to find a tinfoil ball of fried plantons hanging in a plastic bag to my door– a gift from a hoarder who has everything, needs nothing, and is willing to share all that she has with a man who will be her hoarder slave.