Room with the view

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The next day, I am still deciding whether to rent the room on the top of a pet shop.

Mel is moving interstate this weekend. I will struggle to pay the rent for my current apartment on my own once she moves. I don't even have enough money to return her share of the bond.

Mel says she can forgo the bond if I need help. She will need that money for her new home. She and her family have already helped me so much. I practically grew up in the Chang household. I can't be loadstone around her neck all the time.

Beggars can't be choosers. I am not someone who will refuse the things offered just for the sake of her pride. If the owner is currently living in the place then it must be in decent enough shape. I will be renting on my own so I don't have to worry about dodgy roommates either. I make a decision to rent the room. There is no harm in having a look at it at least. I feel 100 tons lighter after my decision.

I walk out of the apartment and head to the school. The curb is free of any cabs. I am bit disappointed, but I shrug my shoulder and head to the train station.

On the train ride, I am thinking about Luke. I don't mind Sam's choice of profession. A person has to make a living and who am I to judge someone about choice of their profession. At least what he does is legal

However, living in a strip club with a young child and asking some stripper wanna be girls to look after that child, is just plain wrong. I have to get this through Sam's thick skull. I don't want to do it face to face. I am not sure I can talk to him in a calm and professional way. I start writing a letter.

The school day is as busy as before. Luke is still rather dirty. I add this observation to the letter that I have already written. I decide to give this letter to Luke and ask him to give it to his father. I don't want any confrontation with Sam.

Alex is waiting for me with Gary. I have called him earlier in the day and asked him to show me the room today if possible. He has agreed to wait for me outside at the school finish time.

Thankfully Sam is absent today. Joe has come to pick Luke up. I am holding Luke's hand and walking with Joe. I give Joe the letter, I have written and ask him to give it to Sam, using words and hand gestures.

I head towards Alex. Luke and Joe are still with me. "Hi Miss, Come with us. Gary and I can show you the room now" and he heads towards the cab. I sit in the passenger side. Joe, Gary and Luke squeeze in the back seat. Joe's Harley is mysteriously absent.

In few minutes we have parked at the back entrance of the pet shop. We all get out of the cab. Luke is holding my hand and not letting me go. Joe is still coming with me.

The building has two stories. It is old but sturdy looking structure, in a need of some TLC. The pet shop is sandwiched between souvenir and novelty shop on one side and hair, nails, beauty products and cosmetic jewellery shop on the other side. There are number of other shops joined to each other. I am standing in the back alley, looking at back entrances of all the shops trying to guess what other shops might be there in the block. I can see a big motel in the corner identified by a sign. The entrance of motel is on the other side. I can only see its dusty back windows.

This road is bit filthy but it is decent enough. I have lived in worse places with my mom. There is no traffic except the delivery trucks and people working in the nearby shops.

I climb the narrow rickety stairs, followed closely by Luke and Joe. Why is Joe tagging along with me with Luke in tow? I stop, turn around and speak to Luke. I know he is only a child but he understands English better than Joe.

"Luke, why don't you go home with Uncle Joe?" Luke is reluctant to go home and shakes his head, but he must be tired and hungry.

I go through my bag and find an apple. I offer it to Luke and he starts munching on it. "Are you tired Luke. May be you should ask Uncle Joe to pick you up". Luke shakes his head again and I let it go.

I enter through a narrow door. The room is very dark. Only the door I came through is letting some feeble light inside. If I shut the door it would feel like living inside a tomb.

Gary turns the lights on. I can see a small kitchen area. The appliances look relatively new and clean, but kitchen cabinets and bench top are quite old. Bench top has some dubious stains on it. The cabinet doors are flimsy, broken down or chewed through as a result of rats and cockroach infestation. I have to do some pest control before moving.

There is toilet and laundry area attached to the kitchen, but washer and dryer are missing. I can get a second-hand washer and dryer. Doing laundry by myself will be cheaper in the long run. My current apartment has only common laundry and I have to spend money every time to wash my clothes.

I take a pen and paper and start to list the things that need to be done. The kitchen area has a sticky vinyl floor which has to go. Rip out the horrible mustard colour wallpaper. Apply some bright colour to the walls.

Gary continues ahead and opens a door to the next area, separated by a partition. I am greeted by an Extra King size bed minus the mattress. How am I going to get a mattress and bedding this size.

It is a room with many contrasts. The room is painted in gaudy pink colour. The ceiling has a big hole right above the bed as if something was fixed there and has been ripped off.

The bedroom lighting is very weird. Bright spots and shady alcoves in all the colours of rainbow are created by overhead chandeliers hanging in four corners of the room. I need to get proper lights to work or read in here.

There are niches created in the wall to put decorative objects or hang picture frames, but there are no decorative objects or picture frames.

I get the shock of my life when I see the attached ensuite. It has a huge tub with self-heating facility, shower jets the whole works. The ensuite is decorated in awful red and silver floor to wall tiles. There is a wall mounted TV to watch while taking a bath. I can see an extravagant shower in the corner as well as separate toilet and bidet.

Gary seems to have spent all the money he had, to create this bizarre decor. Yet the room does not go with Gary's personality at all.

I seem to have reached the end. I move a massive red velvet curtain to find that I am facing a wall. I completely open the curtain and am relieved to find a window and a door. I try to open the door but it is shut tight. I attempt the window next and manage to pry it open.

Right in front of me is a large Strip Club, advertising its business to visitors with its large Red and Violet neon strip girl. I can see adult book DVD and costume store, full body massage place, tobacco and liqueur store, all night club/pub/ diner, Gay and Lesbian bar, a naturopath selling remedies for problems in the bedroom. I can even see a bordello advertising its exotic Asian and Russian girls

The business is just starting. I notice some working girls trying to get early clients, Street vendors preparing to sell Kebabs, Tacos and Hot dogs, various performers settling in, singers, musicians, jugglers, acrobats, sketch artists, even one magician.

All around me is a giant maze of balconies, staircases, overhead pedestrian bridges joining different buildings. I suspect one bridge is joining the strip club across the road to the front door here.

I am just speechless at this point. I request Alex to drop me off at the train station. On the train ride I start laughing, thinking about the "Room with the View".

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