Friday, June 17, 2011

Bruck Street, Part 1

My first experience with a landlord was when I moved to Columbus with my friend Lisa.  We lived in a duplex on Bruck Street, and our landlord, Judy, lived on the other side.  Now, landlords on television are always eccentric and entertaining--like Mr. Roper from Three's Company or Mr. Heckles from Friends--and Judy could have easily fit in on some show.  I mean, where else but on television would you see a landlord out on the sidewalk on a chilly fall evening wearing an ankle-length fur coat and drunkenly sloshing around a hot toddy?  Oh wait, that wasn't tv, that really happened.

It was hard to tell if Judy was friendly, partly because she was hardly ever home and when I did have interactions with her, they usually left me confused.  For instance, one evening I ran into her in front of the house.  "Gretchen, is that you?"  It was dark, I was wearing a hat, and Judy had most certainly been drinking.  When I confirmed that it was, in fact, me, she went on to add, "Oh, I didn't recognize you.  You look cute."  Wait, was that a compliment, or did she just insult me?!

Although Judy was single, she didn't live alone.  She had an extremely ancient dog named, Ruby.  Now, as I mentioned, Judy was hardly ever home; she was an interior decorator and traveled for work.  But, when she was gone, Ruby was always left behind.  I never figured out who took care of Ruby while Judy was away because I never really saw anyone else coming or going from the house.  The dog was so incredibly old, I'm sure it didn't even eat anymore and she was probably just letting it pee all over her floor (I was always surprised at how dirty the inside of her house was--I guess she was just an interior decorator and not an interior cleaner).  I also deduced the Ruby was blind because she fell down the stairs on a regular basis.  How did I know this, you ask?  Trust me, the sound of a large animal plummeting down a flight of stairs tends to be loud enough to be heard through the walls of a duplex. 

One weekend, I happened to be home alone when I was awakened in the middle of the night by that horrible sound.  There went Ruby again, down the stairs.  (You would think she'd stop going up them!) But what made this time worse was the fact that the tumble was followed by the most pitiful sound I have ever heard uttered by a living thing.  It actually sounded like a human being crying at the top of his or her lungs.  And, of course, Judy was out of town again.  It was so sad that even a non-pet lover such as myself was wracked with worry for this animal.  I didn't know what to do.  I had no way of getting over there to check on the dog.  Could I call 911 for a dog emergency?  The police?  Children's services?

So, I wasn't surprised, and actually very relieved, when Judy told Lisa and me that she had Ruby put to sleep.  Then I knew that if I ever heard anything falling down the stairs again, it was Judy after one too many hot toddies. 

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