Monday, 29 July 2013

Scenes from a Marriage (Part 3) – The House Hunt by Naomi Elana Zener

The leaking fridge was the final straw. One too many latent defects had reared their ugly head, forcing the issue of selling Husband and Wife’s tired starter home, replete with the former owner’s less-than-fabulous renovations. Once packaged as having been an elegantly renovated home with high-end finishings, the home had been more akin to a house of horrors, prompting Husband and Wife to move on up to a more civilized pied-a-terre.

“If I have to live in this shit pile of bricks for one more minute, I will burn it to the ground!” Wife cried.

“Alright, I’ll look at the MLS listings you sent me last night at three in the morning, when you should have been sound asleep,” Husband offered.

“How can you sleep soundly when our bedroom is a furnace in the summer, notwithstanding our brand new air conditioning system? Lest we not forget, the freight-train like whirring coming from the fan you have blasting cold air on me all night long?” Wife asked rhetorically.

“I told you that I’d switch sides with you since the plug is on your side of the bed. But, you refused,” Husband replied.

“The left side is my side. It has always been my side and always will be. Heaven forbid you use some lateral thinking and bought an extension cord to run under the bed to plug the fan in from your side of the bed,” Wife emphasized. “Anyway, who the hell renovates a house to its studs and only installs one bloody electrical outlet in the master bedroom?”

“Same idiot who leaves ungrounded wires in the furnace room, exposed insulation in the basement and mould growing inside of the walls of the nanny’s room,” Husband replied.

Wife, not wanting to waste more precious time venting, which was distracting Husband from reviewing the MLS listings she had sent him, turned on the television to numb out.

“Well, these five look promising,” Husband stated pointing out on his iPad the houses he liked. “I’ll set up showings with the agents for later this week.”

“For tomorrow!” Wife instructed, shutting the television off and tossing the remote at the fan. “I want to see two sold signs on two front lawns by the end of next week.”

Two sold signs in Wife’s stated timeline were not written in the stars. Rather, sixty unacceptable showings and four months later forced Wife to relent, and she lifted her geographic embargo on various areas in the city, giving their realtor more flexibility in finding the couple more housing options to look at. One early Sunday morning, interrupting Wife’s regularly scheduled political television program viewing, the realtor called with news that he was swinging by in twenty minutes to take them to see a brand new listing.

“I have found you the one!” the realtor advised excitedly, hoping that his time servicing this couple was coming to an end. “This lovely Victorian is in the swankiest part of town. It has been renovated by one of the city’s top architectural teams and is impeccably appointed with only the best high-end finishings. This home is a stone’s throw from some of the city’s best restaurants, shopping and places to people watch.”

The realtor’s car pulled up in front of a historically preserved semi-detached home that looked as though it was backlit on a Hollywood studio set, emphasizing its regal character.

“Excuse me, but when did we ever say we would consider a half of a house?” Wife demanded to know. Husband remained silent, not wanting to further fan Wife’s raging flames of frustration. Everyone remained unmoved in the realtor’s car.

“I know it’s a semi, but it has over four thousand square feet of above ground living space!” the realtor said exasperatedly.

“What’s wrong with a semi anyway?” the realtor asked.

“Is this guy for real?” Wife asked Husband, not expecting an answer. “Do you think I want to smell my wall neighbour’s foul odours wafting through a shared ventilation system, when it’s curry night or when he had a bad gastric episode? Maybe you like to know when it’s sex night for your neighbours, but I certainly don’t. And, I don’t want them knowing mine either!”

“The silence from our side would be deafening since it only happens three days a month,” Husband added laughing. Wife was not amused with Husband’s sexual disclosure.

“But, it’s been renovated! It has new ventilation, new pipes, new soundproof insulation held in by new drywall,” the realtor shrieked.

“Walls are only so thick. Bottom line, I need to be able to tell my husband to go fuck himself without having a nosy neighbour listening in on our private marital conversations without calling the cops,” Wife explained.

“I think I now have a clearer picture of what you are looking for and I don’t think that we share the same vision. I’m willing to terminate our buyer’s representation agreement so you’re free to find what you want with someone who can cater to your specific needs,” the realtor offered trying to break free from his albatross. “And, to show that we’re still friends, I won’t even claim a right to any commission on any listing I’ve shown you, should you end up buying one of those homes.”

“And the truth shall set you free,” Husband laughed.

“Two weeks – that must be a record for us!” Wife laughed acknowledging that they went through more realtors in the past four months than anyone in MLS history. Or, so several realty firms that had refused to work with them, after first being forewarned that Husband and Wife had been boycotted by almost every other firm with whom they had worked previously, had told them.

“You’re doing us a favour, really. I’ll find exactly what I want without having a commission-sucking vampire like you suctioned to my wallet,” Wife shot back.

After two days passed since breaking ties with their realtor, Husband and Wife returned to visit the semi, tempted by the square footage and pedigree of its renovators’ hands. A sale price of two hundred thousand dollars below the seller’s asking price was accepted, after Wife had made it clear that no one else would put in an offer once bidders’ agents found out that an offer had been placed by Husband and Wife, given their reputation amongst the city’s realtors. Determined not to be wall neighbours with anyone, Husband and Wife doggedly pursued the octogenarian grandmother living next door with cash offers, to no avail. Then, one fateful night when the grandmother’s television stopped working because her cable lines had been cut mysteriously, she eavesdropped on Husband and Wife’s easily audible conversation, in which Wife told Husband loudly that they would be hosting both their African-drumming classes and S&M group sex swinger parties for the next six months, since no one else offered up their homes for the events. As if on cue, an hour later the grandmother made an unexpected late night visit to Husband and Wife’s front door offering to sell them her dilapidated half-a-house for half of what they had paid for their palace, proving that no matter how good a renovation is, a semi’s walls were paper thin.

© 2013. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, 15 July 2013

It's Raining, It's Pouring, Toronto is Storming by Naomi Elana Zener

"We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you late breaking news," the anchor,  Bob, announced. "Widespread flooding has invaded our cherished city, after being hit with torrential downpours due to a storm system, which has paralyzed and wreaked havoc on Toronto and its surrounding areas. Stranded in cars quickly deluged by overflowing sewer waters, many a high-end over-priced luxury automobile has been transformed into a makeshift Titanic, sinking to the bottom of the underpasses where they were driving, now turned into new lakes. Luckily, the hot air contained in the egos of their drivers allowed their owners to float out of their rolled down windows to make quick escapes out of their Ferraris and Corvettes. While waiting for a water rescue, these men were found clutching on to the exposed pipes and rods of the overhanging crumbling Gardner Expressway and various disintegrating bridges, once a blight on this city’s good name, this shoddy infrastructure has become a hero during this natural disaster. Now, we are cutting to our street beat reporter, Calamity Jane Mundane, reporting live from the rooftop of the Toronto Star building with an update on the situation. Tell us Jane, what do you see?"

A panoramic view of Toronto swept across the screen to find a life-jacket clad Calamity Jane standing on the rooftop of the Toronto Star building at 1 Yonge Street, holding on tight to the structure’s fire escape ladder, so as not to be carried away by gale force winds.

"I don't know if you can see this, Bob, but where Captain John’s Harbour Boat Restaurant once resided in its final rusting resting place, now is empty," Jane advised showing an empty dock slip.

"Has it sunk?" Bob inquired.

"No, just the opposite. The thunderstorm broke the Captain John from its Lakeshore shackles and barnacle-clad anchors to set sail finding life anew as Noah's Ark reinvented," Calamity Jane explained, as the camera provided viewers with a view of the Captain John magesitcally sailing up what was once known as Yonge Street. "Like Noah's Ark before it, the Captain John has been picking up stranded motorists, tourists, bike riders, pimps and hookers, two-by-two, trying to protect themselves from the rising one hundred millimeters of rainwater."

"Sorry Jane, but we have to cut you off as we have live footage streaming in from the Toronto Transit Commission's closed circuit monitors bringing us live reactions of how trapped riders are coping with being held hostage by the storm in unventilated, non-air conditioned and overcrowded subway cars," Bob interrupted. "Known for their civility and manners, I am sure that Torontonians are showing how they are lending each other a helping hand and trying to make good of a bad situation."

Deep from the bowels of Toronto's underbelly, grainy black and white footage jumped on to the screen depicting the scene unfolding in one subway car.

"Give me your seat, or I'll cut your fat ass bitch!" a heavily tattooed, bandana-clad, knife-toting gang banger shouted at a woman sitting in a seat near the doors.

"I'm pregnant, asshole," the lady cried, "you don't get to take my seat."

"I'm the one with a knife and if you don't give me your seat, I'll cut that baby out of you and I ain't no OB," gang banger cried.

"Come any closer and I will force my water to break," the lady screamed.

"Just give him your seat," a Bay Street businessman barked trying to protect his Tumi briefcase from the dirty water.

"There are snakes on this train lady and I am scared of snakes," the gang banger cried ominously threatening the pregnant lady with his knife. Unwilling to see the waters turn red, the businessman hoisted the woman out of her seat allowing the gang banger to jump onto it and into the fetal position, so as to avoid the snakes circling the passengers like sharks. "Hey man, pass me your Tumi. I wouldn't want to see it ruined," the gang banger offered the businessman.

"He's coming! He's coming!" a man sporting a blue CAMH-hospital gown and pink and red checked golf pants shrieked before the pregnant lady could retaliate against the newly formed old boys club in her railcar.

"Who's coming?" the pregnant lady asked. "A subway worker?"

"Jesus!" the CAMH-escapee announced.

"What does CAMH mean?" the gang banger asked no one in particular.

"Center for Addiction and Mental Health," the businessman explained.

"Oh fuck, we got a crazy on here!" the gang banger shouted.

"You're the one afraid of snakes. I think there is more than one crazy in our midst," the pregnant lady retorted.

"Jesus will come and save you all! But, until he gets here, you better watch out for Satan's little helpers," the CAMH-escapee warned as he shook two snakes at the gang banger.

"Get those murdering mother fuckers away from me you psycho!" the gang banger screamed. "Come any closer and I will cut your fucking hands off!"

"But, then you'd have to get out of the seat you stole from me. Come to think of it, you'd have to touch your slimy scaly relatives and you'd get blood all over your new best friend's precious briefcase," the pregnant lady chortled loudly. Suddenly, she clutched her belly after feeling a sharp pain. "Oh shit, my water broke! Get me help!"

"Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming!" the CAMH-escapee gleefully cried pointing at the pregnant lady's belly.

Everyone aboard the train began to flail their arms about wildly in the hopes of finding some cell phone service, to no avail. Out of nowhere, a geriatric woman emerged, like an angel from heaven, bringing forth her new black market Verizon wireless Android phone with built-in CDMA technology.

"Use mine it works," the granny offered. "I've been live tweeting to the transit authorities this entire time and just updated them about your labour situation."

"Maybe you should sit down," the gang banger suggested to the pregnant lady, throwing the Tumi case overboard. The businessman, busy taking a shot from his flask made the Sophie's Choice to let Tumi drown rather than see his eighty year old scotch drown. "I know sitting down helped all of my baby mamas when they went into labour."

"Now you're a gentleman?" the pregnant lady stated rhetorically.

"Circumstances changed," the gang banger advised. "Hey man, give me your booze. I have to sterilize my knife in case we need to cut the cord. Don't worry, I've cut eight cords."

Sirens, at first faint, became louder and louder as they approached the subway car. The closed circuit video footage focused on an approaching EMS canoe, paddling down an adjacent tunnel, illuminated by the bright light of its flashing light signaling that the paramedic cavalry was coming to their rescue. Upon sidling up to the subway car, all of the passengers rallied around to grab hold of the canoe as the gang banger and businessman helped squeeze the pregnant woman through the window into the boat.

"Jesus saves!" the CAMH-escapee cried as the granny videotaped the entire scene for her iReport for her Huffington Post blog.

"As you can see, while it may have seemed as though all hope was lost in Toronto's darkest hour of no power, Torontonians rose to the occasion and worked together in multicultural harmony," Bob sermonized. "Shortly after EMS workers arrived, transit authority rescue crews arrived on the scene to evacuate every rider to safety. Well, almost every rider. Unfortunately, the snakes were Toronto's sixty-third and sixty-fourth homicide victims of gang-related violence. And now, back to your regularly scheduled broadcast of Canada's number one rated program: American Idol."

© 2013 Naomi Elana Zener. All rights reserved.