a new preface for old stories

villaIn a dusty box in the storage closet of the HUD Housing complex behind the Burger King on McHenry Avenue, you’ll find my file, three inches thick and spanning my nine year residency. The last time I saw the file was the summer of 1999.

I’m standing in The Villa’s tiny office, where the clatter of the air conditioner nearly drowns out the children splashing about in the pool just outside. From behind the desk, Terry thumbs through the folder and then shoves it towards me.

“You should really have a peek.” His tone is serious, but his eyes are warm.

“I’d rather not.” I glare at the thing and it glares back.

I don’t have to open this catalogue of sins to remember the myriad of noise complaints, repair requests for two windows and a door, the landscaping bill for a light-saber-battered shrub, a letter of apology for crashing a Big Wheel into the pool at 3 a.m. or the string of warning notices about my unauthorized cat.

“I’m not trying to be a hardass, Jules, but –“

Terry sighs like a disappointed dad, then gets up and gestures for me to take his chair. He slips out the door to the pool area as I slump into his chair. On the far side of the deck, he lingers near the chaise lounges of Maura and Shell. Fully aware of their cyclical retaliatory boyfriend-thievery, he bravely drags a chair up between them.

I am nearly thirty.

I have spent most of my adult life in this place, among these people.

My “I don’t really belong here” shtick is wearing thin and the ugly reality lay out before me is that I haven’t been the bad-luck good girl for a very long time.

While I contemplate liberating my file, a small gathering of children begin to make blow-fish faces against the window beside me. I look at their baby teeth and tonsils, their waggling tongues.

In the end, there is no absolution, so Villa Bitch through and through, I lean toward Jory and Jellybean and press my open mouth to the glass in a silent scream.


[The Villa Stories is a work in progress, every now and then, since for what feels like forever but is more like thirteen years. Wow. That IS a long time to NOT finish something without abandoning it altogether. Regardless, this is a new bit. With any luck, others will follow.]