Chapter Fifteen

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The next morning I woke up to the sound of traffic. It was much noisier downtown than my neighborhood.  

"Good morning," she said.  

"Good morning." 

"Did you sleep okay?" 

"Yes I did, thanks for letting me crash here last night. Your couch is actually more comfortable than my bed." 

"I hope I wasn't being too loud this morning. Did I wake you?" 

"No, not at all." 

"I made coffee if you want some."  

"No, thanks, I'm not a coffee drinker." 

"Are you hungry at all? There are bagels in the fridge, I also have muffins, cereal, toast, you can help yourself, okay? I still need to get ready for work." 

I crawled out of bed and reminisced about the wonderful night we shared. Finally, something was going right for me. After folding the blanket she had given me last night, I went over to the smorgasbord of food. I felt like a king.  

"So, what are you going to do today?" she called out from the bathroom. 

"I need to look for a job. I'll probably be downtown later if you want to hang out after work." 

"Sure." 

I finished my bagel and grabbed a muffin for the road. I walked her to the mall where she worked as a server at a pancake house. 

"Have a good day at work, I'll see you later," I said. 

After I dropped her off, I walked the five kilometers back to my apartment. I arrived back at my home a little before noon. I jumped in the shower and got dressed in my applying-for-jobs outfit. 

I went up the street to the internet café, printed out another two dozen résumés, and placed them neatly in a folder. I ate my muffin to power up on carbs before I made my way back downtown once again. I handed out my résumé to a few places along the way, but my main destination was the two-block stretch in the downtown shopping district and the mall. 

*** 

Over the course of the next week, I had a hard time coming up with ways to fill my day. I went to the public library and would read for hours. I didn't like spending a lot of time in my apartment; it felt like a prison. There was no radio, no TV, and relatively no furniture. I would also go on long walks for hours. I did some of my best thinking on those walks. Along the way, I would go into all the grocery stores and eat their free samples. I had to ration my food because my money was almost all gone. I still had not heard back from any companies that I had applied to and it was getting down to the wire. 

On my way back from one of my long walks, I stopped by the laundromat and checked the ads that were posted there. One other guy was there checking the postings as well. It appeared he was looking for an apartment. 

"Hey, are you looking for an apartment to rent?" I asked. 

"Yeah," the guy responded, as he looked me up and down suspiciously. 

"I actually have an apartment to rent and was just about to post an ad," I said, as I held up my folder of résumés. 

"Really? What's the rent?" 

"The rent is..." Am I really going through with this? I questioned myself.  

I still had the keys to both units in my building. It had been over a week and Raashid had not asked for the other set back. In all likelihood, he had completely forgotten about it.  

"The rent is $800 plus $400 damage deposit." I gave a lowball figure just to secure him. If this didn't work, I would not want to take my chances and post an ad, too many complications. 

"Wow, okay. Yeah, that sounds good. Whereabouts is it?" 

"It's only a few blocks from here; would you like to see it now?" 

I'm not sure why this guy didn't think it was weird that a nineteen year old was out scouting tenants at the laundromat. I guess he was either naive or he was desperate for a place to live like I once was. Either way, it didn't matter to me. Sometimes opportunities present themselves and it's a matter of being perceptive and taking advantage of them. In this case, it was a matter of timing; I was in the right place at the right time. 

When we entered the apartment, I immediately opened some windows to let the fresh air in. "The place belongs to my dad, he owns a few units in this building," I said as I began to launch into my sales pitch. I live across the hall and help him manage these units." 

The guy nodded, displaying his acceptance of my story, and continued to inspect the place. 

"You're getting a real bargain here too. I don't want a lot of hassle; I just want someone who will pay their rent on time," I paused a moment to let the information sink in before I proceeded.  

"That won't be a problem," he responded.  

"You don't need to sign a contract or anything, you can just pay month to month. All I ask is that you give me at least thirty days notice when you decide to vacate." 

"Okay, that sounds good. And the rent is $800, right?" 

"Yes. Plus I need a $400 damage deposit." 

"Okay, I'll take it," he said. 

"I can give you the key now, but I would need the first month's rent and damage deposit up front." 

An hour later, the guy came back with the money. 

"Okay, looks good, it's all here." I went over some other formalities to avoid further suspicion. I needed this guy to think this was as legitimate as possible. "Rent is due on the first of each month. I live down the hall in 2E. You can deliver the rent to me there. Let me give you my cell phone number in case there are any problems, just give me a call and I will take care of it immediately." 

"Okay. Thanks." 

"No problem, thank you. Enjoy the suite." 

And just like that, my hustle-preneurship once again helped me out of a jam. Although what I did was both illegal and unethical, I was helping this kid out. He needed a place, and I needed money. Besides, the real owner wouldn't be collecting rent from that suite anyway.  

I was now up $1,200.00 and feeling good. This money would be enough to tie me over for a while, but it was still no time to celebrate yet. My rent was due in a few days and I was not sure if Raashid would expect payment. If he did, then I would have to pay him $900.00 for May's rent and hope he didn't ask for the damage deposit, or the other apartment key back. I had around $200.00 in my bank account and was holding $1,200 cash, so if I decided to pay the rent, it would leave me with $500.00 for living expenses.  

Another thought also occurred to me, I could use some of this money to take Ashley out to a nice dinner. I couldn't stop thinking about her.

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