I knew there was something wrong with Bea before I moved in with her.

I met Bea through my friend Jay (the one who inspired my tale at the Major Theatre); they both worked for the same restaurant. I had gone over to the duplex on the weekends and Jay had discussed moving in with Bea.

I remember when Bea had to go in for a lead poisoning test. Apparently, they anesthitize part of your brain, drive a giant needle into your head, and draw off some brain juice which they test for lead. The only reason Bea was being tested for lead poisoning in the first place was she was tripping balls one night and decided she needed to be red--so, she grabbed some red paint and doused herself in it.

It's pretty wild dealing with someone whose brain has been put to sleep. Bea handed Jay and me a $20 and asked us to get her a burger. We brought the burger back, and the receipt, and $10 less change.

She stared at the change and the receipt, then the change, then the receipt. "I gave you guys a $20, right?"

"Uh, yeah,"

"Oh, uh, okay.."

She couldn't count. That part of her brain was asleep.

The shit at home hit that point and I left. I spent three nights with my friend Lisa, sleeping on her couch, then moved in with Bea and Jay. Jay and I shared the back room and Bea had the front bedroom. That was where she kept her mice, and the two rats (Budweiser and Timpelton), and her cat, Mongo.

I didn't have a job at the time, and was making do by cleaning the duplex and keeping things in order. Taking care of the animals was part of that.

The duplex was in sad shape. We had downstairs, and a couple with dogs owned upstairs. There wasn't a washer and dryer in our section, so whenever the upstairs neighbors ran their dishwasher, it backed out the drainpipe for where the washer was supposed to go. There was no central heating or A/C, and the only working window unit was in the dining room. (Bea would sleep in there with the door shut; so while the rest of us were sweltering in the heat, she was catching a cold.) There was no gas running to the house, so there was no hot water and no means to use the gas powered range/stove. You couldn't use the microwave because Bea had let something die in there and not bothered to clean it. I tried to, but the smell was so strong, and there wasn't any food in the house, and it wasn't my microwave, I decided it wasn't worth it.

Bea had turned the gas off to get rid of two roommates before. They had left for Denton, so we packed all their shit out of the back room and into the garage.

Bea had failed to get copies of the key. I had asked several times, but she always forgot until it was too late, or she couldn't find it. It made me uncomfortable to live where the front door was always unlocked, especially with my stuff in there.

The key problem reached a head one morning when I woke up to an unidentified blonde standing next to my bed and looking pissed off.

"Do you have a key for the garage? I want my shit."

I straightened up and rubbed the sleep out of my eyes. "Who are you?"

She didn't answer my question and insisted, "I want my stuff back. Would you unlock the god-damned garage?!"

Now, I'm a tall woman, practically six feet tall, and this was one of those cute little club-chicks. I leapt out of bed faster than I should have, grabbed who-ever-the-fuck-she-was by the shoulders and showed her the door. She protested that she used to live there and she needed her things.

"You'll have to talk to Bea about that. It's her garage and her padlock. This is obviously between you two and if you ever enter this house again without permission I will shoot you."

I meant it. And that night I had a copy of the key, as did Jay, as did Joey.

Joey lived in the closet under the stairs and paid his rent to Bea in tabs of X. His girlfriend spent the night on many an occasion and her father called looking for her once. Sure, she was gripping the underside of the door and moving rhythmically, but we just told her dad she wasn't there. Joey wasn't much for personal hygiene--a fact only complicated by the number of piercings he had. The closet (rather large, window, built in table) stank like chicken pox.

I remember meeting Bea's dad. He owned a chain of dry-cleaning places around town and asked me what kind of skills I had. I told him I could fix almost anything.

"So, if I had a broken cleaning machine, you could fix that?"

"If I had one that worked I could look at first, yes."

The first week I was living with Bea, she was raped. Now, before you start feeling any sort of pity, take this into account. She was tripping, she was stoned, she was on X, all at the same time, and so was he. She never pressed charged, she never reported it. She never went to a doctor afterwards, just to be tested. And it's not like she couldn't afford a doctor; she'd been tested once for lead poisoning.

Bea had six cats at the time. Mongo--the oldest, Max--a young black tom, and Aaron, Debbie, Andrew, and Zukie--the kittens. In response to the rape, Bea bought a young calico and named her "Healy". These were all indoor cats. We lived in a duplex. We had one litter box and it was the one I bought.

The second week, Jay was suspended from her job, so she wasn't going to make rent. Bea burst into tears and made a really big fuss about it. It's a shame because Jay had always been a model waitress. She was late five minutes one morning and management decided to make an example out of her. I think Bea shouldn't have put on the passion play she did. Jay was beating herself up about it as was.

While Bea and I were in Richardson getting the phone turned on, Jay tried to kill herself. We came home and there was no one there, but the TV was on. I went into the back room where I discovered

  1. all my alcohol was gone
  2. someone had stepped on my cigarette case--rendering it useless for holding cigarettes unless I wanted them to be flat
  3. Jay wasn't back there.

Bea asked if Jay was back there and at that moment, Lisa came running in the front door. "Jay's at the hospital! She OD'ed!"

Bea quit her job that day.

Jay was fine, but one of my shirts had been destroyed (ASK before you borrow) and after the charcoal treatment they gave her, she couldn't eat anything char-grilled without wanting to puke. I was pissed that my booze was gone, I was pissed about the shirt, and I was pissed about the cigarette case. Most of all, I was pissed about the immature way everyone had acted when it was going on. Jay never should have attempted, and Bea shouldn't have gone to the restaurant, accusing them of "driving Jay to it" and then quitting her job. I've never met a less organized group of people.

I scammed a job at Bookstop, a daughter company of Barnes and Noble. I was there three days part-time at $5, then a couple weeks full time at $5.50, before they promoted me to supervisor of the children's department for $6 and hour. I didn't have time to clean kitty litter boxes.

The house started to degrade, and quickly. With no one to empty the litter box, it became so unclean the cats wouldn't use it. With no one to take out the trash, it piled up. I was at work most of the time, and things were so bad at home, I spent as much time away from there as possible.

Bea's friend David Daniel (brother of Tony Daniel, author of Warpath), came by and started hitting on me. I ignored him. David was friends with our next-door neighbors, Kevin and Michelle, and we were sitting out there one evening when I met Cris. Kevin and Cris were working on some project for the Art Institute of Dallas. I left a note in Cris' car "NEXT DOOR HA HA HA" and we wound up going to a certain coffee shop we knew.

I wound up going to the coffee shop with Cris a lot.

I wound up going there every night and staying until the sun came up. I'd hug him good-bye and it was like he wanted to hold on to me forever.

By then, I was already looking for a new place to live. The smell of cat shit and Joey's piercings was getting to me. Add to that, Bea had a new addition to the managare--a cockatoo named Boomer.

Bea and Boomer got in a shouting match one night. I think that by getting Bea in the fight in the first place, Boomer won. After a good fifteen minutes of them screaming at the top of their lungs, Bea turned her radio off and Boomer shut up.

"Hey, Mila. I figured it out. Boomer doesn't like Elton John."

I agreed, "I'm not to fond of him myself."

"Boomer doesn't pay rent," she argued.

"Boomer can break every bone in my hand with his mouth," I said. "He's entitled to his opinion."

Boomer poked a hole in the bottom of Bea's foot one night while she was wiggling her toes at him. Never wiggle your toes at a parrot.

Did I mention that Boomer had no feathers? He had pulled them out in a psychotic fit. We called him the "Zulu Chicken" after that.

Boomer chewed the spine of one of my books. I threatened him with the book "If I ever see you near my things again, I will kill you." Bea had the gall to ask me "Are you sure it wasn't one of the cats?"

The city came out and did some work on the pipes under the street and suddenly, we didn't have any water. For three days, we didn't have water. I asked Bea about it and she claimed a water main was out. I had seen the next door neighbor watering his lawn that afternoon, and said so. Bea claimed it "must have been some other pipe."

She revealed later that the water bill had not been paid.

One of the kittens had gone missing. It didn't seem like that big a deal; Mongo, Max, and Healy had run away. Zukie and Aaron had found homes, and Bea's hands were full with Boomer. Bea found the kitten two weeks later.

Starving for attention and desperately needing warmth, little Debbie had crawled under the fridge and into the warm components of the cooling assembly. The thermostat had kicked in and ripped the kitten in two. The body lay under the fridge for two weeks before it was found, and I heard it was still there after I moved out.

Oh, yeah, I moved out. I moved out and turned the phone off. I moved out and taught Boomer the phrase: "I'm moving out and calling the SPCA."

I moved in with Cris and signed a lease at the Wildflower. It was the greatest mistake I could have made.

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