Thursday, May 20, 2010

All My Neighbours: The Crack House

After leaving The Grey Yonder, some friends and I moved into The Radiator House. This was just across the street and much nicer than the previous place, an actual house that had been divided into two separate areas: a downstairs where a peaceful hippie couple lived, and an upstairs where the four of us shared a few tiny common areas.

Everything would have been fine if it weren't for THE CRACK HOUSE NEXT DOOR.

The guy who rented it was an extremely quiet, perpetually-stoned, moderately well-off young man who seemed to never go outside. At night he'd put his speakers in his windows and play bass guitar at top volume.

We knew he was selling drugs because a constant stream of traffic was always pulling in and out of his driveway, one of those terrible King St. North constructions that scrape the bottoms off of cars. This driveway was the reason for our first real altercation with our neighbour and his patrons.

You see, OUR driveway was a nice, well-graded path that looped around the back into a gravel parking lot. A particularly slick and disgusting fellow -- who we called "American Psycho" -- got into the habit of screeching into our driveway, racing across the parking lot, and driving up the grassy incline into the entrance to the crack house. This allowed him to avoid the terrible hump that was no doubt damaging his flashy low-rider sports car.

The problem was, this route required him to drive directly under the bedroom window of our peaceful hippie neighbours, and he'd do this at 3am every night, spraying gravel everywhere while deliberately gunning his engine. They'd asked him to stop several times and he always said he would, but then the next night he'd do it again, louder and faster than ever before. He was That Kind of Guy.

One morning I woke up to a furious pounding on our door. I went downstairs in my bathrobe and there was the American Psycho, ready to explode.

"WHO THE F*CK KEYED MY CAR?" he screamed, pushing his way into our hallway. American Psycho was big. He wore expensive suits and wrap-around shades and combed his thinning hair backward. He was not a guy to mess with.

"I don't know what you're talking about," I said.


"Wait--" I said.

He lunged toward me. "YOU F*CKING DID IT!" he yelled.

"I did not, wait..."


"Why would I key your car?"


"It's not my window," I said. "I live in the attic. That's the window for the people downstairs. Why would I key your car?"

He flew into a complete rage and started kicking apart an old desk that we'd left by the front door. I told him he'd have to leave or I'd call the police, and he stalked around the other side of the house to confront the peaceful hippie couple. I heard him screaming, and I heard the peaceful hippie husband scream back, and then American Psycho came stomping back around the house again. He punched our wall and drove away, the scratch on the side of his sports car painfully visible.

He never drove through our parking lot again. The peaceful hippie husband was built like Grizzly Adams, you see. So it all had a happy ending.

Anyway, the quiet bass-playing guy wasn't the only person living in the crack house. He was also sheltering a drug casualty who squatted in the unfinished basement with his girlfriend. We didn't see much of him either, but on particularly spooky nights we'd hear the door slam open and the girlfriend would howl: "FWAAAAAAAWK YOU!"

"Where you gonna go?" we'd hear him slur.

"FWAAAAAAAAAWK YOU!" Slowly, stoned and incapable, she'd stumble down king street. He'd stumble out and follow her, the two of them shambling along, and he'd keep saying "Where you gonna go? Where you gonna go?"

"FWAAAAAAAAAWK YOU!" she'd howl, and gradually their voices would fade.

Ten minutes later we'd hear them from the other side: "Where you gonna go? Where you gonna go?"

"ffffwwwwaaaAAAAAWK YOU!" And they'd both stumble back into the house, having circled the block and providing us with some sad late-night amusement. This happened a few times and it was always the same. They deserved each other.


Eventually the quiet bass-playing tenant left and some friends of ours decided to move into their house because it was really kind of nice. On the first of the month they pulled up with their moving truck, walked inside...and found the crackhead still squatting in the basement.

"I got nowhere to go," he said. "Just let me stay for a few more days." The walls were torn apart and sprayed with graffiti. There were syringes on the floor, circling a highly illegal propane tank which later had to be removed by the police.

Our friends finally managed to coax him out by promising to drive him to a friend's house, but on the way through the door he pointed at the ceiling fan in the living room and said "Wait, dude, that's my fan."

"It's not your fan, it's part of the house."

"I bought that fan. Listen, dude, I'm not leaving without my fan, it's worth a lot of money." So our friends removed the fan and gave it to him, assuming it was a small price to pay to finally get rid of him.

The Radiator House is still there but it has been converted into a massive student apartment, with an addition on the back that actually merges with the crack house. So have things changed and the student slums have grown.


Gary said...

"Bless this house,
O Lord, we pray,
Keep it safe by
Night and day..."

Used to hear that on the radio when I was very young, in the late afternoon.

Guess you could have used a stanza or two of that old song, living next door to the crack house!

Adam Thornton said...

If only we'd had that prayer when the NEXT set of neighbours moved in downstairs! That's another story...