Carl

14 Aug

We huddled together in my dark closet, terrified to make noise, and worried he would return and do something worse.  My roommate dialed 9-1-1 on her cell phone, it was the first time I had ever had the need to call the emergency line.  She spoke in a wavering tone that our landlord had kicked in the front door during a fit of rage, and we were scared.  The operator got the address to our finished basement apartment and ensured us she would send help.

This was just the last in a series of progressively terrorizing acts of harassment.  When I complained that my electricity and water had been turned off for three days despite my religious payment of utilities and rent, my landlord had issued menacing phone calls telling me to stop complaining, especially to my parents.  Another time, I heard a sound in my living room and walked out of my bedroom to see my landlord had used his keys to let himself in without warning.  I still have no idea what he was planning to do that day, and I did not want to find out.  It was that incident that prompted me to start using the chain lock.  This time, my roommate and I had not come to the door quickly enough after he knocked, so he broke it down.

When the police arrived and walked around the corner to where our front door used to be, they were shocked at the damage.  While taking pictures of the door, which had shredded wood along the sides where it had been broken off the hinges, they made a special effort to capture the broken chain lock on film.  They said, though our landlord technically owned this property he had broken our reasonable expectation for privacy by severing the chain lock.

While the police were still there, the landlord returned, presumably to fix the door he had kicked in earlier that day.  The police told him to stop walking towards us and put his hands above his head.  Coming closer, he started to argue that he owned the house, and refused to comply.  The confrontation reached a point where the police had to physically restrain my tall landlord and put him in their car.  They told us, because he did not have a prior record they would have to release him in a few hours.

We knew that he would be furious when he was released, and my roommate and I scurried about trying to regain a semblance of safety by putting the door back up.  Miraculously, the door was back on its hinges within the hour, and we were inside, still shaken from the earlier episode.  That evening, we heard shouting at the front of our house, and entered the living room to see our landlord’s angry and contorted face peering into the screen window, shouting to let him inside.  He wanted the keys he had left in the door back.  We had no choice, but to give the landlord the keys to his property.

Now he would be able to enter our apartment any time.  And we had no chain lock to keep him out!  My roommate went to stay with her boyfriend.  I had to stay in the basement apartment by myself. . .  I had forty days until my lease was up, and my landlord had reason to come back because not only was he furious with me for getting him arrested, he was dating the lady that lived upstairs.  I was afraid the landlord would come in while I was in the shower or sleeping and do terrible things to me.  I locked the screen door and the front door–not that it mattered as he had they keys to both.  Then, I barricaded myself inside by pushing my futon in front of the door.  I was still unsettled so a friend loaned me her pit bull.  The flaw in that plan was the pit bull was not the least bit aggressive, and I forgot that I would have to take her outside to go potty.  After a sleepless night, I went to get a restraining order against my landlord.  I was granted an ex-parte that kept him from setting foot on the property, including the upstairs portion of the house, until the trail for the restraining order.  I was still afraid though.  I figured if someone was willing to break a door down, why would a piece of paper stop him from doing something else?

This atmosphere of fear and paranoia was not conducive to studying, to say the least.  I did not think it would make a difference to speak to my professors about my living situation.  We were going into summer break, and there was just no time to take finals later or retake all my exams, so I muddled through hoping for the best.  I bombed every test I attempted, dropping my grade about a full letter in each class.

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