The Boulders

I was awakened by the Sunday morning sunlight filtering through the bay windows into my bedroom.  While I lay there and contemplated getting up, I performed my ritual weekend activity of seeing how much of the previous evening I could piece together.  On this occasion,  my recollection was a fairly fruitful exercise, in that I could remember just about everything I did, apart from the drive home.  The drive home I almost never remembered.   Suburban kids drive drunk a lot.  Many will tell you they are good drunk drivers.  Some of them die testing that theory.

This was my first apartment after graduating from college.  I had started apartment hunting two days after I got home.  While my parent’s home was comfortable and the price was right, I had lived off-campus in an apartment with buddies for the last three years.  I had grown accustomed to my hours and my schedule did not mirror that of my folks; to put it mildly.  They certainly did not seem devastated by my decision to seek other lodgings.  My Buddy Al was also looking for a place, and we decided to share the expense.  My Mother loved Al, but had suggested we were too much alike to be good roommates.  As is my wont, I blew off her advice.  If there was an Association for People Who Have to Learn Lessons the Hard Way, I could be the poster boy.

Al and I got lucky.  The second place we saw seemed to be perfect.  The apartment was the second and third floors of a nice-enough old house on a good block, walking distance to the train station. Since we both worked in the City, this was a selling point.  The place had one definite bedroom, bath, a small living room which opened up onto a second-floor railed-in terrace, and a sitting room (bedroom?) with a door to the attic.  Access to all the rooms was via a narrow hallway.  The only possible snag that occurred to me was who would get the bedroom?  I was willing to pay a larger share of the monthly nut, but to my surprise, Al fell in love with the unfinished attic.  It was huge, but musty and really unfinished.  But Al liked it, so we went to negotiate with the Landlady.

Mrs. K was an elderly Polish widow with eyeglasses that magnified her eyes to appear as if she was looking out of a fish bowl.  Her last name was one of those that have about thirty letters and two vowels, most of the letters being w, z, c, or k. She pronounced it for us once.  I had her write it out for me to make out the monthly rent check.  I never tried to verbalize it, not being into masochism.  She agreed to the rent, accepted our security deposit, and we got our keys.  The poor woman had no idea what she was getting into.

I was ready to get up, make some coffee, hit the can and read the Sunday Times out on the terrace.  I opened my bedroom door and found myself face to face with a pile of rocks.  No, my description does not capture the essence.  The entire hallway, the hub to the whole apartment, was filled with boulders piled about five feet high.  I had seen homes with sunken living rooms, but by virtue of the boulders, we now had a sunken apartment.  No room was accessible without climbing and descending the rock pile.

Muttering some colorful words, I got a good handhold and foothold, and was able to climb into the bathroom.  Having brushed my teeth, taken care of business and donned my robe and slippers, I then climbed into the kitchen and made coffee.  The next part was the most challenging, seeing as I needed to scale the entire length of the boulders to get from the kitchen to the sitting room off the terrace while carrying a mug of hot coffee.  It took some time, and several times I needed to put the coffee on a ledge to advance, but I made it.  Then it occurred to me that I had left the paper in the kitchen, so I did it again.  Finally, I settled in at the picnic table on the terrace, sipped my coffee and started the paper.  I was looking forward to Al getting up, as I was anxious to hear the origin of our new personal quarry.  I was not really angry, as Al was all about the unexpected.  I had known that coming in, and in fact, to me, it was a big part of his appeal.

Sometime later, I heard sounds of activity in the attic and soon Al appeared.  He gave me a military salute and began his climb to the kitchen to get his coffee.  Upon his return, he shook his head as he sat down.  I asked what the problem was.

“Much easier getting into the kitchen than coming back out” Al said.

“Stands to reason,” I replied.  “You got two hands free going in… an easier climb.”

Al nodded.  “And you need to set your cup down at least once coming out, and those rocks aren’t level.”

“No, they’re not,” I said.  “I’m having a hard time finding many positive rock attributes. Where did you get them?”

“Randy and I clipped them from a construction site.  They weren’t guarded or anything,” Al said.

“Go figure. I guess they thought no one was going to run off with thirty 250 lb. boulders,” I said. “Talk about naïvete.” I began to smile.

Al tried to maintain a straight face, but he was losing the battle.  “Pretty haphazard way to run a construction business, you ask me,” Al said.  He grinned widely.

“How the hell did you get them up here to the second floor?  That staircase turns at a ninety degree angle and it’s not wide, either.  Must’ve been a bitch,” I said.

“You have no idea,” Al answered. “It took two of us to lift one of those suckers. It took forever to get them all up here.”

“Good thing you’re no quitter,” I replied.  I smiled again.

“I couldn’t have done it sober,” Al said, shaking his head. “No fucking way”

“I guarantee you wouldn’t have done it sober,” I said. “Never even would have occurred to you.”  I knew this because I’ve had similar eureka-type revelations when I was smashed. They don’t usually hold up to the light of day sobriety test.

“”Well, let’s not get hasty here,” Al said. “ Let’s brainstorm the pros and cons of the rocks.”

“You mean like they do in corporate boardrooms?” I asked. “You and me?”

“That’s the plan,” Al said, chuckling.

“Shouldn’t take long,” I said.

“Blink of an eye,” Al said.

“OK, you start since they’re your rocks,” I said.

Al sat for several minutes deep in thought.

“OK, suppose we were building a moat?” Al said.  “We’d have a good start on a foundation.”

“When did this become we?” I asked. “But you’re right.  Those be some fine boulders. But I see a  few obstacles to the moat.”

“Expound” Al said.

“Well we have no property. We’re renters.  A moat seems like a big expenditure for renters.”

“There is that,” Al conceded.

“And you think Mrs. K. would go for the moat idea?  Maybe she doesn’t want a moat,” I pointed out. “And even if she did like having a moat, she could throw our asses out and give our moat to the next tenant!”

“That would be the height of gall,” Al exclaimed indignantly.

“Actually,”  I said, “She might not be far from throwing us out, moat or no moat.  She evidently doesn’t like George Clinton and P-Funk.”

“No?” Al asked.

“Not at 2:30 in the morning on a Tuesday.  Maybe never. But she was really pissed off Tuesday.”

“Well, music is a very subjective kind of thing,” Al observed.

“Talking about Mrs. K., how do you suppose she didn’t hear you bringing the rocks up here?  It had to be noisy.  Those old stairs creak when you’re not carrying 250 lb. boulders” I asked.

“You’ve seen her glasses; she’s blind as a bat.  Seems her hearing might not be razor sharp either.  And you slept through it, too. You must have been well-medicated” Al said.

“Apparently well enough” I replied. “So I think we agree the moat is not viable.  Just out of morbid curiosity I have a question.  Castles build moats to keep things out.  Zoos build them to keep things in.  Which way were you leaning?”

“Both” Al replied with conviction.

“Good thinking,” I said. ” Why pigeonhole yourself?”

The next day, Monday morning, I climbed my way into the bathroom, showered and headed off to work. After work, I met some friends for dinner and drinks.  It was late when I got home and opened the door.  The boulders were gone, the hall vacuumed. I never asked Al how or where he disposed of them.  He would tell me if he felt like it. He never did.

Photograph by http://www.northland-landscaping.com/images/high_res/Fieldstone%20Boulders.JPG

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7 Comments on “The Boulders”

  1. damaris moulton Says:

    I can see it all happening. sooo Al, still not sure yet about you. When we were hanging out, mostly at night, he would always crook his finger and dangle me…back of t-shirt, belt loop, ear. It was so annoying but funny. I miss Al too.

    • wjudson461 Says:

      What do you mean ” still not sure yet about you?” My Dear, I am an open book. But hope you liked the piece. If you view it again (and you better) would you click on the “Like” button? The more “likes” I get, the more prominently my pieces are displayed. Much appreciated. Bet your still trying to add to my music list, huh?

  2. Richard Alomar Says:

    Excellent writing!

  3. Dana Says:

    This is hilarious!

  4. Mike Says:

    That is awesome!

  5. Cathy Says:

    You’re right, Juddy. This one tops all the rest. Just 2 crazy guys!

  6. nancy angelos Says:

    Oh this is a classic Juddy! The visuals are just too funny. Thoroughly enjoyed it.


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