For the past year we’ve been living with Danny DeVito.
That is how I shall refer to our former landlord – even though he doesn’t deserve that honour – because he is very short.
He owns the apartment block of four and the café in front of it, which is run by his daughter and son-in-law. At first Danny DeVito, who was probably in his 70s, seemed like he was going to be a lot of fun to have as a landlord and neighbour.
We would talk politics and current affairs in the courtyard. We’d heard he purposefully kept the rent lower than the market demanded and hadn’t given a tenant notice in the 25 years he’d owned the place. He insisted if we had any problems we could just knock on his door and he’d come over and fix whatever it was. He built and lacquered a wooden table and put it in the courtyard soon after we’d started sharing Saturday afternoon beers with our neighbours. It was all very idyllic.
The first time I realised Danny DeVito was not our friend was when he angrily hollered at me during a very light shower on a humid day: “The carpet will get wet! Close the window now!”
Danny DeVito obviously believed the man of the house should take care of everything, so he would usually greet me with a smile while harassing J-man about some summary offence. Our bin had bin juice in it, J-man’s scooter was parked oddly, or our washing machine door was left open.
Danny DeVito had a recycling bin he liked to leave empty for unexplained reasons and once he discovered we’d put paper in it, fishing out a piece of torn up mail and presenting it to J-man as the smoking gun.
When we were in the USA for three weeks we’d given him permission for a tradesman to come in and get rid of termites we’d discovered. When we returned we discovered Danny DeVito himself had installed new bathroom taps. In the process he’d obviously cleared out our bathroom cabinet because tampons, toilet paper and everything else I never meant for Danny DeVito to see were strewn around the shelves.
After that I received a lecture from Danny DeVito. Not for being a foul woman, but because he’d also discovered my bike had made small scuff marks just inside the front door. He complained it could cost him a lot of money to repair, despite me telling him I had always been able to remove those marks with a cloth. J-man was told we should start to use Jiff because our kitchen drain was slightly brown.
Then late one afternoon six weeks ago, I opened a letter from the real estate agent giving us three months to move out. Even though we saw Danny DeVito every day, he hadn’t thought to tell us a young employee from the café needed somewhere to live. And maybe because of the bin juice, the open window, the wrongly placed envelope or the tea-stained drain, it had to be our unit.
We had broken Danny DeVito’s 25-year record.