Thursday, December 01, 2005
Why I am a coward.
Here Miss Diane sits on Miss Grace's stoop. This was back when we first returned to New Orleans--back before she'd been evicted.
I am grading students essays, trying to find ways of telling my students why an audience might not appreciate a female dog being referred to in an essay as “my bitch” or a car as an “automated vehicular contraption” when I am interrupted by one of the many new noises of the neighborhood. I have become used to the Red Cross mobile’s cop-horn and the once-regular but now sporadic rumbling of Humvees and scraping of Bobcats, but this noise was a banging I’d not heard. I peak out the slats of our shutters and see a big and sparkling Cadillac, and behind it a locksmith’s truck. It is Miss Diane and Miss Grace’s former landlord, and she is having their locks changed. I want to fucking kill her, and I mean it; I have not felt rage like this since I can remember.
Yesterday, Miss Diane and Oscar came by their old house—the house with new locks—to survey the work that had been done. Weeks ago they were evicted. A terse letter informed them that “due to extensive storm damage to the property,” they and Miss Grace next door would have to vacate the home. The landlord said she expected to perform the repairs and would contact them once completed. The extensive damage was, in fact, minor roof damage. The work that has been done: locks have been changed.
A week ago I saw Miss Diane and Oscar sitting in front of the house. They were both crying. Yesterday, Miss Diane said she was ready to report their landlord to Channel 6’s investigative reporter, Richard Angelico. Miss Diane, Oscar, their 30-year-old son with severe cerebral palsy, and their 15 year-old, Oscar, Jr., have been living with Miss Diane’s daughter. They had to give up their dogs because her daughter wouldn’t allow them. Every day they spend an hour driving into town. Oscar lost his job of 24 years to “some Spanish guy” who doesn’t know printing press work and who Oscar suspects is getting paid pennies on his dollar. Their rent at the house across the street was $390/month. Now, you can’t find a place in this area for less than $1,000. It is gay-town, Cadillac-town, white-town; we don’t have room for the Miss Dianes in the Marigny anymore.
I want to scream at the bitch who’s having their locks changed. Miss Diane says she’s a lawyer, and judging from the looks of her, her Cadillac, and her Metairie accent, I suspect she’s the kind of lawyer we could all use less of. A lawyer whose motives are winnings, not winning. I hope she dies. Tomorrow. Today. Now. No—better than that, I hope she loses her job; I hope her kids get debilitating illnesses and have to rely on Medicaid; I hope she loses her home and has to stay with relative and has to give up her pets and has a bitch for a landlord who tells her she will repair the home but does nothing but change the locks.
And I want to say these things to her, but apparently I am a coward. I post pleas on behalf of my neighbors on online forums. I don’t confront bitch landlords who deserve to die. Evidently, it’s just not my style.
The bitch's words.