by Susan Weiman
“So, do you want me to be your roommate or not?” Bess asked. We were on the N train returning from Barnes & Noble where I was meeting Bess for a second time. It was the end of the month and I was desperate.
“Yes,” I said. I knew that was my first mistake.
Bess was in journalism school and now worked as a reporter for a local newspaper. Three months after moving in, she quit her job. She complained bitterly about being unemployed, and increasingly became more depressed.
"'I'll never get a job. Those snobs. They only hire graduates from Columbia," Bess whined. “If you get out of your pajamas and left the apartment, maybe you’d have a better chance of finding a job.” That was my second mistake.
Then she met Mark. They spent most evenings at Lugos drinking and making out at the bar. Most of the barflies ignored them except those looking for a fight.
Halfway into the month, she informed me she was moving out to live with Mark and asked for her security deposit.
“No way,” I said. We had an agreement to give notice on the first of the month. You can’t walk out now.” Bess retreated into her room.
The following evening, I arrived home to find Mark photographing each room in the apartment.
"Hey, this is private property. Put down the camera."
Mark yelled at me and told me I was no longer allow me to speak to Bess.
“She’s my roommate. I want to speak with her directly -- not through you!”
"She's no longer speaking with you. Besides, you better return her security deposit. If not, I’ll make your life miserable. I'll ruin your credit, and ruin you financially."
“Get out!! Get the fuck out of here!” I screamed and phoned my friend Jonathan who lived two blocks away.
"Be there in a minute. I’ll beat the shit out of the guy."
"That's OK Jonathan. I can handle him. If it gets worse, I'll call."
I stepped into the hallway, and in a calm authoritative voice, l asked Mark to leave.
"Give her the money!" He shouted as he hovered over me and pinned me against my bedroom door.
"You better get the fuck out or I'll call the police."
A few days later, I received a summons from housing court. The blood hound reporter and her side kick were after me. I had charged her an additional $30 a month in a rent stabilized apartment.
With no other recourse, I made an appointment to see a landlord-tenant lawyer, who advised to pay back the additional rent. I also learned that a verbal agreement would not hold up in court.
Now I was out the security deposit, and a couple of hundred dollars, not to mention, in two weeks, I had to find another roommate.