The Florida Story (Part 2)

Filed under : Serial Stories, Weird Stories

Story 36 of 365

Est. Reading Time 5 minutes

(if you missed Part 1, you’re gonna be confused)

So there I was. In Florida. The plan was in action, only three things left to do :

1. Sign my lease and get my keys
2. Call Porno Joe about the job
3. Move my shit in when the truck arrived

florida back porch viewI hopped in a cab, and arrived at my new apartment complex. It was on a long, long street. Nothing but apartment complexes and Florida rainforest surrounding it. I didn’t see this “grocery store on the corner”, but I hadn’t gone down any streets around the complex, so I figured I’d find it later. I signed my lease, and opened the door to my new place. It was a studio apartment with what looked like two living rooms. It was nice, though. Pretty big for a studio place, and I had a little balcony that looked out onto .. nothing. There were too many goddamn trees surrounding the building to see much of anything 1the photo to the left is from the video camera I had with me – that was my actual view.

I called Porno Joe. He was just returning from the big porno convention in Florida, so he asked me to call him back the next day when he could get a moment to talk. With nothing left to do that day, I just tried entertaining Bouschka (who was very bored without people or other pets to play with), and took a little nap. Later, I just sat on my floor and watched DVDs and browsed the web. I figured I should probably go to the grocery store the next day and get some food and drinks and maybe even a fold-up chair if they had any.

The next day, I walked to the apartment office and asked about that “grocery store on the corner”. They told me to take a left at the first street after the complex and it would be “down the road a little ways, on the corner”. They neglected to tell me this was a 2 mile walk. In the middle of the summer. In Florida.

When I got to the store, I loaded up on sandwich fixins (cause I wanted to feel “home”), two 12-packs of Dr. Pepper, some light snacks, and I even found 2 fold-up chairs — one of these babies — and headed out on my long walk home. I had not planned properly for this. I was carrying 20 pounds of groceries for 2 miles. In the middle of the summer. In Florida.

By the time I’d gotten to my street, about 1/4 mile from home, I was drenched in sweat. I couldn’t even see straight from the sweat stinging my eyes. My wrists were sore from the bags cutting off my circulation. I’d already given up one of my 12-packs that had fallen a ways back. I had a chair slung over each shoulder. I was dehydrated, tired, sweating profusely, and hadn’t eaten in 2 days. As I got closer to the front gate of the complex, I saw one of the maintenance guys driving a golf cart inside the complex. I waved and tried to shout “hey, could you help” but all that came out was “huuuu….” and I collapsed on the sidewalk and passed out. When I came to, the maintenance guy was placing me in the passenger seat of the cart, and put my groceries in a little basket in the back. He drove me to my apartment and I walked up and promptly passed out again, still holding my groceries.

When I came to, I made myself a big ol’ turkey sandwich, had a Dr. Pepper, and then… threw up about 5 times. I couldn’t keep food down the rest of the day, but I kept trying. Eventually, I mustered up enough energy to call Porno Joe. He told me “hey man, sorry.. we’re working on a lot of things right now and I just don’t have a way to bring in a new crew member. Check back in about a month, though, cause I’m pretty sure I could use you”.

I took another nap. I woke up and had to run to the bathroom to throw up again. Then went back to bed. I stayed in this state of “try to sleep. wake up. vomit. try to sleep. wake up. vomit” for the rest of the day, and most of the following day as well.

My plan had failed, spectacularly. I was living in what amounted to a retirement community. Miles from any real activity or “night life”. Had no car. No job. Only about $200 to my name. I had sun poisoning 2I didn’t know that at the time, but found out later. Everything I owned was sitting in a parking lot in California. I missed everyone back home.

I called my mom and told her how it was going. She strongly advised me to give up the ghost and just move back. Since my stuff wouldn’t be arriving until Saturday (it was only Wednesday), I could still call the moving company and tell them to hold onto my stuff. I was running dangerously low on money, with maybe $200 to my name at the time. That wasn’t enough to get a flight home. My mom said she’d happily pay for my flight home.

I called Celina, told her what was going on. She was a wreck, as was I. Her ex-boyfriend had tried taking her out “to forget”, and she tried fucking the pain away but said it didn’t help. I was upset to hear that, but she figured I was gone forever, I could hardly blame her. I was also in no position to give much of a shit at this point, given all the shit I put her through and all the shit I put my body through in the past few days.

Thursday morning, I called my mom again. Told her I’d made a huge mistake, and I wanted to just go back home to California. She didn’t try giving me a speech, she saved that for another time, she just said “okay. I’ll call you back with flight details” and I made another series of calls to cancel my phone, electricity, cable internet, the moving truck, and then walked down to the apartment office to cancel my lease. They told me the 24-hour “no fault cancellation” window had closed. I was on the hook for 6 months of rent, and there was no way out of it.

Friday morning, I left a single bag of trash in the corner, dropped my key at the office, and the Florida girl who’d picked me up in the first place drove me to the airport. That was a quiet, weird ride. She must’ve thought I was a crazy person, but we barely talked. I had to drug Bouschka with sleeping pills so he wouldn’t meow endlessly like he’d been doing and maybe no one on the plane would complain they had allergies and I could just get home without trouble. Though it took about 3 pills over the course of 4 hours to get him calmed down, my plan worked and no one said shit.

When I got home, I crashed out immediately, as did Bouschka (whose eyes were barely open anyway). When I woke up, he was full of pep and cuddling me, and I was finally able to eat. It was like the whole thing was just a really weird dream. Minus the $5200 the whole experience cost me.

But, goddamnit, California is my home. I should’ve known that then, but I definitely know that now.

3header photo credit : Phillip Pessar

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. the photo to the left is from the video camera I had with me – that was my actual view
2. I didn’t know that at the time, but found out later
3. header photo credit : Phillip Pessar