Space For Rent
$500 / 1br - Studio Space for Rent (Brian Crane’s Cerebral Cortex) (map)
Date: 2009-08-13, 10:55PM EDT
Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org [Errors when replying to ads?]
Small studio in the outer layer of my cerebrum. The space has not been used for some time but is ready for occupancy. Unfurnished. Walls and ceiling decorated with grey neurons and unmyelinated fibers; some basement space open for shared storage w/myelinated axons forming white matter. Available immediately.
Brian Crane’s Cerebral Cortex (google map) (yahoo map)
* cats are OK - purrr
* dogs are OK - wooof
* Location: Brian Crane’s Cerebral Cortex
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
* * *
– Is this Brian?
– This is Brian.
– I’m calling about the apartment?
– The apartment?
– Yeah... I saw your ad? On craigslist?
– Oh, right, the apartment. The, ah, the studio space.
– Right, yeah.
– What about it?
– I read the ad and I’m very interested. Can I come by and take a look?
– When would be a good time?
– I’m always here.
* * *
Small meant small: one room done up in fibrous grey, just enough space to squeeze in a bed. Morris ran a hand along the wall. It felt like papyrus, or some kind of curtain.
“How’s this place do with sound?” asked Morris. “These walls seem really thin.”
“It’s better than you’d think,” said Brian. “I can tune out anything I don’t want to hear.”
Morris paced around the room, which only took five steps. It was clean and empty, just as advertised, save for one corner, where a pile of three worn cardboard boxes leaned against the wall. On his second pace around Morris stopped and prodded the boxes with his toe.
“What are these?”
“Oh,” said Brian, as if he hadn’t noticed them. “Um, those are just a couple of old things. I’ll get them out of here as soon as I can.”
Morris crouched down. The boxes were covered with grime and dirt, maybe going back years, but lighter marks from fingerprints dotted the flaps. He ran a finger across the side and watched the color change. He brought the tip to his nose and sniffed.
“What do you think?” said Brian.
Morris stood up and let out a long breath. “Well, that depends,” he said. He took one more cursory glance around. “When can I move in?”
* * *
– This is Morris.
– Hey, Morris. How do you like the place?
– It’s really great.
– I was just wondering how long these boxes are going to be here.
– Yeah, the –
– Oh, the boxes, yeah. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with those.
– It’s just, they’re taking up a lot of room.
– I don’t want to hassle you about it or anything.
– No, I completely understand. I’ll have those out of there at the end of the week.
– Thanks, Brian. I’d appreciate that.
– No problem.
* * *
The only way to get posters to stay in the wall was by using metal hooks. The hooks caught easily on the grey fibers, and Morris managed to get up his Led Zeppelin poster and his M.C. Escher print before he started worrying about the damage he was doing to Brian’s neurons. He stopped just short of hooking his stereo speakers into the wall, lest he lose his security deposit.
With a bed in the middle of the room and two posters on the walls, the apartment was as decorated as it was going to be. Morris stretched on the bed and touched one end of the room with his fingertips, the other with his toes. He rolled onto his side and lay face-to-face with Brian’s boxes.
Invading Brian’s privacy only took two motions. First, Morris pulled open the top box’s cardboard flaps; second, he reached in and grabbed.
* * *
– All that’s in those boxes is photographs.
– You went through my things?
– Photographs and letters. They look like they’re from years ago.
– Yeah, they’re from a long time ago.
– Can you get rid of these things? I thought you said –
– Those are my memories.
– That’s very profound of you, Brian, but they’re taking up space that I’m paying for.
– I can’t just get rid of them.
– Then buy a photo album. If you don’t get rid of your junk, I’m going to.
– Fine what?
* * *
Moving out took more time than moving in, but just barely. Morris stood in the middle of the empty room with his arms crossed. His poster hooks had made small tears in the walls, small black tears that stood out against the grey fibers like the black eyes of a bird or stars in reverse.
After a long time Brian said, “Is there some place I can forward your mail?”
“Who is she?” asked Morris.
“Who is who?” said Brian.
“You know who I’m talking about.”
There was another long silence. Morris took stepped to the boxes and reached inside. The flaps shook. Dust spilled into the air.
“Okay,” said Brian, “I know who you’re talking about.”
Morris pulled out a handful of scraps. A polaroid fluttered to the floor, a photograph of a girl with black hair and olive-colored skin. She was smiling and half-turned away from the camera. Another picture, one of those photo-booth strips that you can get at the arcade or the state fair, floated through the air, flipping from smiles to emptiness, smiles to emptiness. Morris opened his hand and a piece of paper spread out of it like a flower in time-lapse.
“‘It was winter but we decided to go to the beach anyway,’” he read aloud. “‘We saw that stray dog, or at least he didn’t have a collar, and he kept biting at the foam and we kept laughing at him and he looked really confused.’ These are the things you’re holding onto?” He dropped the paper back in the box. “This rosy nostalgic crap is what you can’t let go of?”
“Her name is Kimberly,” said Brian.
Morris shook his head and headed for the door. “Well, I hope Kimberly pays rent for all this space she’s still using,” he said. Two steps later he was gone, and Brian’s not-quite-abandoned boxes still leaned silently in the corner of his brain, refusing to be removed.