The newly renovated four-plex apartment building at 44 Cherry Street was still vacant in two units, one upstairs across the hall from longtime tenants Lorraine and Frederick, and one downstairs across from new tenant Susan from LA. The landlord had torn out the original kitchens and baths in every unit except Lorraine’s (she was kept at her current rent), painted everything and refinished the floors. He raised the rent to $2000 a month and was surprised that the apartments didn’t rent faster. After all, Black Mountain was now on the map! People were flocking here from all over the country and paying inflated prices for even the simplest residence.
The landlord renewed his advertising campaign from coast to coast. Previous ads had attracted international attention with messy results. A caravan of camel-riders led by the new President of Iran had ridden the wrong way down Cherry Street to view the building. They left in a huff when Lorraine had given them a piece of her mind and told them to clean up the camel poop on their way out.
The latest response to the ad was from somewhere in the Northwest. The landlord received a phone call from a rather inarticulate caller who seemed to grunt rather than articulate his words. Once the landlord had ascertained that the caller was okay with the high rent, he invited him to come to Black Mountain for a tour. He wasn’t a snob, after all. Just because the caller didn’t speak proper English didn’t mean he was a bad person. Probably a retiree, he thought. Lots of those in Black Mountain!
An appointment was made and the prospective tenant arrived this week. Barry, the landlord waited on the front porch of the building in one of the new rocking chairs Susan had purchased at Tyson’s. He jumped to his feet when he saw an Uber pull up in front of the building. When the passenger climbed out of the car, Barry was amazed at the size of the guy. He had to be at least seven feet tall. And was he wearing a fur hat in this heat?
Barry suddenly realized that the man was covered with hair and his face and head resembled that of a lion, except it was brown and matted. He wore only what looked like a diaper, and had huge, unshod feet. As he climbed the stairs to the building, Barry almost swooned because of the strong smell the prospective tenant emitted. Did this guy even know what a bathroom was for?
The fellow grunted and pointed at Barry, and indicated that he wanted to tour the apartment. Barry looked up at the man’s face and was afraid to say no. He led him into the unit and pointed out the improvements he had made. The visitor grunted his approval.
“So, where are you from?” Barry asked.
The fellow grunted again and pointed vaguely North. “I take it!” he growled.
Barry had no choice but to produce a contract. The huge man grabbed a pen in his fist and scrawled his name on the bottom of the form: