Monday, July 14, 2008

Nocturnal Emissions

I have to open my trap on this one, even though belatedly. And no, for all those salacious-minded people out there, this isn't one of those sell-out sex revelations to push my blog hits over the top (the horror! What will my mother say? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! As if she even reads stuff from the Internet, she even can't start up a PC. But still.).

In March, I was making a decision on moving out from my erstwhile apartment. It was time --- I stayed in a good place, made friends with a God-fearing family, established some form of stability in my life ---but for some reason something about the whole arrangement was holding me back. I didn't know what it was. And yeah, the fact that I was a slob had a lot to do with it --- I didn't even have any new furniture and I had gotten rid of my TV set and DVD player. I wanted a change --- but the flat I was living in wasn't the one to accommodate it.

My first choice was my officemate's old flat --- he was starting a family of his own and he was leaving his room behind. His flatmates were fellows who were closer to me in interests --- heck, I spent more than enough time in that flat, including the Christmas and New Year holidays, and I sometimes on their (often) seedy couch. The two fellows who would be my flatmates would be a great complement to me.

I thought to myself, with a little re-tiling, a little insect spray, and a change of the bathroom fixtures, ta-da! I would have myself a brand new hang-out. And since the flat was for families, it was a sure babe magnet. Yup, I could use a few more babes in my life. Hmmm, one would actually be enough.

This flat, however, was in a significantly older (read: decaying) building, and despite the fact that I would save money on my monthly rent, I would be putting up a lot of money just to get things fixed.

I was still wavering between moving to this flat before my friend asked me to join him in a family flat in a building right beside this old (ummm, decaying, for effect, natch!) building. I had reservations about joining my buddy, who by all accounts, is an excellent sparring-partner and altogether good guy. He was, however, somewhat of a flake when it came to domestic matters and to handling other things as well. Staying with him and his soon-to-be-wife may not exactly be the best medicine for my nerves. Or to my wallet.

Anyhow, we checked out this flat and I found it exceeded my expectations --- including price. We were thinking of subdividing the living room so that we can accommodate my friend's old classmate who was coming to Saudi Arabia, but I did some further thinking, and said, let's not share with anybody else --- let's keep all of this space to ourselves! That meant, of course, that I was going to pay more rent than in my old flat.

But the place was new, had two bathrooms, a spacious kitchen, a balcony (unusable during the sandstorm period, but otherwise, an asset). So I ponied up the money, bought new furniture, and settled in. It was as good a place as I could think of to relax ---so much so that I almost spent my entire April in it.

Fast forward to my return back from vacation. I had gotten back on track, and though my AC unit got busted (it will get changed in the next two weeks, Insha'allah), I am comfortable.

One day we received a call from our buddies next door. He was steaming mad, I kid you not - over the state of affairs in their flat.

What happened was something out of a gross-out movie.

Our buddy woke up to slush scattered all over the hallway outside his bedroom door. The slush was a mix of green, brown, and yellowish goo. There was a dank odor everywhere. As he made his way to semi-dry areas on their carpet, he opened the bathroom door and found the source of the epidemic --- their toilet overflowed!

Let's pan the camera and focus on all the dribble coming out of the bowl, mixed in with sand, some compressed sewage, and other scree that was regurgitated by their septic pipes. There is a distinct squish of the rubber slippers as the soles make contact with the various solids. Imagine if there is a slight gurgle - a bass note that waxes in a crescendo to a reedy tenor quack. It's a mouthwash express, only the goo being cleaned came out the wrong way...

Now here's the kicker - our other buddy just comes home after a long night's work from the factory where he is currently on night shift. He comes just in time to see his flatmate seething over the morass --- at wit's end and almost close to pulling his hair out --- a virtual Mad Hatter about to snap at anyone and anything, especially the building super.

The other fellow is at a loss. They inspect all the damage and try to contain what they can. But like the proverbial horror movie where the worst is yet to come, and what we have just witnessed is one long horrible foreshadowing, they make their way to his bedroom (cue in the sinister music) and voila!

Goo was seeping out of the cracks in the ceiling. It paid no heed to value or cleanliness, it was not selective in its reach. It was the Mississippi and the Missouri flooding Iowa and the Corn Belt states. It was the cyclone that rocked Myanmar. It was the worst monsoon rains in years that hit Bangladesh. And aptly, this happened just as Typhoon Frank was about to rake the Philippines.

Shit was literally dripping from the ceiling. Okay, think the blood dripping all over when Mickey Rourke bangs Lisa Bonet in "Angel Heart" (side note: hugely entertaining, at that time). Um, let's go a bit further. It was almost as bad as the blood that flooded out the hotel corridors in "The Shining." You get what I mean.

The humor in all of this, after the three of them (yes, they found a third to occupy their vacant berth) had sorted out everything, ripped off their carpets, did their laundry, and getting the building super and his cohorts to stopper up the leaks and mop up the water (short of taking them hostage at gunpoint), here's the thing.

Solids were left behind everywhere. And the carpets were rolled up shawarmas with feces as filling. And here's what the super said, "Hindi namin trabahong linisin yan" (It's not our job to clean up that mess).

Here's another fun fact and perhaps the clincher - had I moved there, the dripping ceiling would have been in my room.

There are small kindnesses and there are kindnesses that make you wonder whether God just swung the bat for you and made that grand slam in the ninth. Or that buzzer-beater that breaks up a tied score. Or a hole-in-one. Or whatever. The Hand of God was definitely involved.

I'm glad I didn't move there. In fact, since this event happened I haven't even visited that flat. In time maybe I'll get to do it, God willing.

I just can't get the image of the drippings from the ceiling out of my head. It tops the gross-out factor of whatever happened in "Alien." Brrrr!!! --- it still gives me the shivers. To that, I just have to grin, thank the stars for my luck, and hold back the guffaws imagining my friends' jaws literally dropping and eyes popping at the deluge surrounding them.

Pasensya na, mga parekoy! Trabaho ko naman ang apihin kayo eh!

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