A couple weeks after Phil and I started working at Software Spectrum, we moved out of Garland and into a two-story, two-bedroom, two-bath apartment with washer and dryer hookups. Rent was $590 a month and electric was averaging $60 a month. The apartment complex was section-eight housing and granted, we were some of the only people our color there (like that really matters). Most importantly though, It was our place. No roommates.

Now, when we had first looked at the place, we had one of Gavin’s old roommates with us and there was discussion of the three of us living together. John Hopkins had lived in upstate New York most of his life and then had been working at National Tech Team with Gavin and Charles for the past three months. When Gavin left for California, Charles became unbearable. Hopkins wanted out.

We didn’t sign a lease with Hopkins at any point—he didn’t have a job when we moved into the apartment and I was iffy about letting him live with us when he had no way to pay for rent. (I’ll admit, I was making $13 and hour and Phil was making $12, so it wasn’t a problem, I just don’t like being taken advantage of, and in his case, that’s what it would have been.)

We took Hopkins’ resume over to Spectrum and got him a job there. Then In November he moved into the spare bedroom. It seemed to go okay. Hopkins was a big anime fan, so we always had something to watch. He didn’t eat that much. He was a little picky with Phil over eating noises, but that was quickly countered with the fact that you could always hear Hopkins breathing through his nose.

Hopkins was one of those ass-holes who impresses girls by putting every other guy around them down. He used to try it with Phil all the time, but I said I wasn’t impressed in the least. Phil was my husband; Hopkins was just a roommate. Hopkins was also rude to my friends. That shit doesn’t fly.

Around the end of December, his car died; but, Phil’s dad had a 1978 Buick Riveara he was willing to let go for $1200. Hopkins bought the car and missed the second month of rent. Then at the end of January, Hopkins needed to get some dental work done. Even though he had insurance, he missed the third month of rent. It was looking like the end.

Then things got really weird and tense.

Apparently, when Hopkins first moved to Texas, he got a traffic ticket out in Arlington. This would have been fine if he had paid it, but he didn’t. So, one night he got pulled over in Richardson and they ran a warrant check on him, the Arlington warrant popped up, and they shipped him over to Arlington to pay the fine. He called us at some ungodly hour, asking us to come pick him up, but we were dead asleep and didn’t hear the phone.

Now, a warrant for a speeding ticket is no big deal, I know lots of people with them who manage to pay them off one way or another. Walking around work telling everyone that you missed work because your roommates refused to bail you out—that’s another thing altogether. First of all, it’s a flat-out lie. Secondly, most of the people at work were also our friends (that’s how we got the job) and it made us look bad in their eyes. We got a lot of “This doesn’t sound like you guys, what’s going on?” questions that week.

Then there were the magazines. I have no problem with porn. I do have a problem with porn that features the barely legal crowd or the overseas-and-not-really-legal set. Porn that was left out in the living room. When my mom was coming over. Or the “Family Stories” magazines with such tales of ribaldry like “Gran’pa and Me” or “Kissin’ Cousins”. And home produced anything always gets on my nerves. Watching what looks like a nineteen-year-old deep-throat a forty-year-old is one thing. When your not sure what her age really is it’s another. Especially when he lets her talk.

By February I was soooo ready for Hopkins to go. We had decided that I would break the news to him (last time he and Phil had disagreed on something, Hopkins and thrown off his glasses and puffed his chest). So, I waited for him to hit the door that Friday so I could tell him.

The first words out of his mouth were, “Man, I don’t think my day could possibly get any worse.”

I waited until Saturday to break the news. “How soon do you think you could find your own place?”

“Well, maybe in two or three weeks I could look around for…” He started to unpack a fresh load of magazines.

“How about next weekend?” I asked.

“Well, I guess in a couple weeks….”

“Well, you get paid next weekend.” I said. “How about next weekend?’

And that was that. The next weekend he was out. He’d left a lot of stuff behind in boxes with the promise to “pick it up when I get a place”.

At about the same time, Kristin was getting rid of a powder-head roommate who wasn’t paying bills. I don’t know why I thought Hopkins would be a good idea. Actually, I think we had suggested Hopkins or Juan Marcus, but Hopkins won out because he drinks less. The plan was Hopkins would move in with Kris on April first.

Then Hopkins got fired from Software Spectrum. He just hadn’t been showing up to work and no-one knew where he was staying, so after three days they fired him. I came to find out later that the same thing had happened at Tech Team and that’s why Hopkins was fired from there.

Kristin was starting to worry. “I can’t find this guy and I need $400 from him for the first. What am I going to do?”

Phil and I felt a little guilty because we had brokered the deal, so we spotted Kris for rent.

About that time, Hopkins called from Mesquite. He claimed he had bottomed-out the car, cutting a hole in the oil pan, and the engine had seized. Phil was pissed. No, livid is a better word. Remember, this was the car Phil’s dad had bought—the 1978 Buick Riveara—with the toronado transaxle. This was supposed to be the fun, project car. The only reason he had sold it to Hopkins was Hopkins needed a car.

Phil explained that we had paid the rent for April and in return, Phil wanted the car back. Hopkins gave Phil the keys and title (he had never had it changed over) and nothing was ever said about it again.

(Later on, we put the car up on a lift. The oil pan was fine. Hopkins had just driven it without oil.)

So now Hopkins was roommates with Kristin. This is where it gets fun.

Kristin doesn’t put up with anyone’s shit. And the moment Hopkins tried to play little dominance games with her she laid down the law. “My name is on the lease. I am alpha human.” Hopkins had no job, so Kris insisted that he clean. When that didn’t work, they got into screaming matches.

I had just finished reading “Lolita” and I lent my copy to Kris. She had already said a few choice things about Hopkins’ porn collection (and the drive-full he had on his computer), but after a while, she just started calling him Hopkins Hopkins—after Humphries Humphries from Lolita.

H.H. still didn’t have a job or a car after living with Kris for three months. His parents had sent him $1400 for a car, but he lived off it instead. By August, Kris had just about had enough. H.H. was spending all of his time in his room and when he wasn’t he was watching porn of the TV or yelling at Kris.

On August 28th, 1999, Phil and I married. Kristin’s wedding gift to us was to take our new roommates, Gavin and Monique, off our hands for the weekend. I was between jobs at the time, so I went down Sunday night to “pick up the kids”.

Kris and I hung out a bit while Gavin and Monique packed. Then Tessa, the upstairs neighbor, came by and said, “I knew you had been having computer problems, but I didn’t know it was that bad.”

“What do you mean?”

“The smashed computer monitor in the trash. What happened there, anyway?”

Kris and I ran outside and sure enough, there was H.H.’s computer monitor in the trash with a hammer sticking out of it. We ran back inside to see if Kristin’s roommate had just killed himself.

H.H. had left town while Phil and I were getting married! Kris, Gavin, and Monique were all at the wedding, so it gave him plenty of time to pack his shit and split. He had smashed the computer monitor, a computer case, and an old TV on his way out. Things he could not carry with him but would not leave to Kris.

I guess this tells you what kind of roommate relationship he and Kris had. He was gone a day and a half before we realized what had happened.

Gavin, Monique, Kristin, and I started to clean the room. At one point we found Kris’ Texaco card.

“Well,” she said. “This makes an argument I had with my mother make a lot more sense.”

Gavin got some nice shoes out of the deal—and a watch. I got a pen and some computer parts. Kristin go a very nice set of books he had left behind. And some videotapes: not porn, just anime.

I often wonder if H.H. was in Texas because he wasn’t fit to stand trial in New York. He parents were always sending him money. The whole thing just seemed odd. We haven’t seen him since that August. I think it’s just as well. .


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