3. Into The Past

R.B. Winters
R.B. Winters
Rent(minus)Control New Book Project Leave a Comment

This is a chapter of a new project I am working on. Enjoy!


Into The Past

            Kyle was right in his idea to kick-start my fledgling writing career; I needed to start where I had left off. To be a great writer you need to find inspiration. Once I had found this inspiration and managed to produce two novels. They achieved local success and landed me a job writing a weekly column for an up and coming magazine. The magazine had died, but I didn’t want to waste my work and transformed the articles into a blog. New York is full of bloggers and I was happy to be one of them
            Three years of blogging caught the attention of a few sponsors that were willing to pay for an ad on my site. This was enough to pay for the things I needed along with the income that came every few months from book royalties.  The blog, Rent(minus)Control, was a hit not only with locals but with women and gay men that had been through similar life experiences. I wrote about the only thing I really knew… me.
Re-launching the blog wasn’t as difficult as I had anticipated it to be. The library of posts I had built over the years was enough to give me a head start at a new beginning. It was only appropriate to rewind time to the day I first moved to Brooklyn.
It’s Brooklyn Bitch!
August 9, 2002

We’ve all heard the saying, ‘moving is hell’. I firmly believe that the

person who came up with this must have been moving to Brooklyn. Moving can be a nightmare no matter where you’re going, but I can promise that this is worse. Let us return to last Thursday when I paid the first month’s rent on my new apartment.

The very Jewish man that I signed a lease with had said that they would have the keys to the apartment that night because there were a few things they needed to finish around the place. I said that was fine, making my way over to the apartment to begin moving in.

The building was newly renovated and incredibly nice. I was surprised, to say the least, to find that there was no power or water in the apartment. I got on the phone and called the person said to be the property manager, he promptly told me he had no idea what I was talking about and I needed to call someone else. After playing phone tag for about twenty minutes I was able to find someone that knew something about the apartment.  This is when the tomorrows began.

Friday came and I had to move my stuff in, power or not. After moving everything in I called the tomorrow man and he said Monday was the soonest power and water could be on, not to mention I still had no keys to the apartment. I called the Jew that had taken rent money and a deposit from me and he said a locksmith would come out to change the locks, but not until Saturday.

Saturday arrived and the moving truck needed to be returned to a location in Queens. I haven’t driven in months and have never been much of a driver. Even though I have a $750 warrant in Wyoming that we can talk about another day, I drove the moving truck. Oh, the misadventures! What happened: I sideswiped a bus, nearly tearing the truck’s mirror off, hitting one of the cement barriers that support the elevated rail followed that little adventure.

I can say that if it weren’t for an innate ability to laugh at myself, there would probably have been tears from stress. Somehow I managed to get the truck back to the lot without causing much more harm to it.

Sunday was a bright and happy day. Stopping in the local store where I bought dinner. Arriving back at my powerless building I was greeted by silence. The security guard who has to let me in and out of the apartment, due to lack of keys, was gone. I sat on the stairs for about an hour before he arrived to open the door to the black hole that was home. Plopping on the couch I lit enough candles to see my white trash dinner. Eating cold spaghetti-o’s, warm bottled water and pint of melted ice cream. It’s like living in a white trash paradise and there just happen to be some brown people here too!

Monday. Oh, Monday. I awoke with such high hopes for the day. I waited until about noon to call the property manager about the water and power.  All the tomorrows had been changed to Monday when Saturday had arrived. I was very unhappy to hear that they weren’t going to be able to fix anything until Friday. That’s when it happened, I snapped. This is a direct quote from my conversation with the tomorrow man, “Everyday has been tomorrow, it’s fucking tomorrow! I can’t take a shit in the fucking toilet or make anything to eat. I have no water in the bathroom, but for some reason have it in the kitchen. I have no power and it’s been four days. You let me move in and it’s a fucking slum. I’m going to report you if it’s not fixed today!”

Mind you, that all of this came out in my loud-scary-sounding-straight voice. I feel I’ve been jerked around enough and obviously being nice isn’t working with these people. I had to leave so I could find a place to charge my phone and laptop, but unfortunately for me the three Starbucks I visited were full of people in my same sinking boat. Not one of them had a free outlet for me to use.

I got myself on the ever-lovely L train and made my way home. I was straddled with a shoulder bag and three heavy shopping bags that were beginning to rip. My phone kept ringing: Mom. Friend. Friend. Mom. Friend! There are those moments when you want to pull your hair out, but I have mine cut so short there’s not much to work with. I walked into the darkened apartment, knocking over a tower of DVD’s. It just added to my already over the top frustration. In the dark a note had been slipped under the door. The Jew landlords were working to get the power and water working! They claimed to not know anyone was living in the apartment, which I had to do my best not to snap over.

It’s now Tuesday and things are coming together. I have a toilet that can flush, hot water to shower and electricity to see. It just goes to show that you have to yell in a scary straight voice sometimes for people to listen.

The amount of time that had passed between the writing of this post and my current reality was astounding. It’s now 8 years later, and I’m that much older, with new break-ups and melt downs under my belt. The person that wrote this felt like a stranger. Though it was still possible to see the 18 year-old version of myself sitting in the coffee shop window, pounding away at the keyboard.

Back then there was passion in my writing. Determined, I wrote everything about my life down. No detail was too small or too risqué for print. I just needed to find that passion again. The memory was cut short as a buzzing in pocket beckoned,


“What are you doing?” Rachael asked, clearly using her cheap new Bluetooth. The sound quality was awful for anyone she plagued with a call.

“Just going over some old blogs to try and get back into the swing of things.”

“Oh yeah, how’s that going?”

“It’s like I’m a different person. I still love writing, but I don’t know what to write about.”

“Write something that will get us on television. Something that’s really pathetic and oppressed. Like gays and their straight wives.”

“Since when are you looking to be on Jerry Springer?”

“Ha ha, you’re cute. Anyway, come meet me for a drink. I just sent the address in a text, wear something nice.”

There was no time to argue as the line fell silent. Rachael was plotting something I probably wasn’t going to like, but at least it would provide a distraction and perhaps a blog.

To meet the 9 o’clock deadline that was provided via text, there was barely enough time to head home and change. The only draw back to living in Brooklyn is that it takes so much time to run home and then back to the city. Cabs have never been my favorite method of transportation, unless really drunk and too tired to wait for a train. A quick ride on the A train next to a rather potent homeless man, and I was at the entrance of the wannabe-hip-bar, Joshua Tree.

Rachael was easy enough to spot, her pink Britney Spears’ wig accented with a black top hat.

“Really?” It was impossible not to ask, the wig was hideous.

“Shut up, I love it.”

“What is this?” asking as I examined the sea of people.

“Some album release… or book… something.”

“Why are we here if you don’t even know?”

“Free drinks. I needed a date.”

It was like the sound had drained from the room. When you see an ex for the first time after a break up there’s a surge of emotions. What was rising in the pit of my stomach was a mixture of repulsion and fury as I caught sight of The Devil and the one he had left me for. Joshua Tree is a relatively small bar and there were too many people around for me to dash towards the bathrooms where the room opened up. There was no need to say anything, Rachael saw what was coming.

“I didn’t expect to see you here.” The Devil’s words were belittling, as if we were casual acquaintances that saw each other now and again.

“What the hell do you want?” Rachael was ready to knock either of them out, possibly even angrier than I was.

“I wasn’t talking to you,” spat The Devil.

“He has nothing to say to you.”

Suddenly a vision flashed in my mind of Rachael flying forward, the wig dropping from her head.

“It’s fine,” I interjected.

“It’s not ok. I liked you, even when everyone was telling Ryan to dump you. I pushed him to get back together with you after the first break up. I think of myself as a good judge of people, and you just snuck right under my radar and that pisses me off.”

The Devil didn’t respond, his new toy stepping forward.

“You remember Devon,” The Devil said, as if the image of this person wasn’t burned into the back of my mind like cheap pornography that I was unable to erase.

“I almost didn’t recognize you with cloths on and your legs together.”

Devon leaned into The Devil, thrusting his tongue into my ex’s mouth. There wasn’t much I could do to top that.

“Screw this,” Rachael said, and without warning the half full martini bolted from her hand and into the faces of the two men that topped my list of least favorite people.

Holding back laughter was almost impossible as we rushed out of the bar to avoid the bartender that was heading our way.

‘He’s a motherfucker. Don’t waste a second thinking about him.”

“If only it were that easy.”

Rachael understood me better than anyone. We were the same person in two different bodies, she just happened to be more sexually energized than anyone I’d ever met.

“Why’d he choose him?”

“Cuz he wanted a slut. That’s what all guys like The Devil want. Let’s go dancing.”

I appreciated Rachel’s efforts, but all I could conceive of doing was crawling into a hole.

“I’m gonna go home.”

“No, don’t let those assholes ruin your night.”

“I’m tired. I shouldn’t have come out, and I have to meet with my old editor in the morning.”

“You want company?”

“No, I’ll be ok. You go have fun. Call and tell me about it tomorrow.”

Rachael kissed me on the cheek and headed off in the opposite direction of myself. I was in for a night of torment as the questions of why began to bubble up inside.