Myers teaches at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. His writing has appeared in a variety of venues, and his work as a performance artist has taken him around the western world. Find him here
"Someone," Sylvia says to me, "maybe you, should get the fuck out of this bed and tell that old guy from across the hall to stop banging on the door. It's how many, the third night this week; and, if his hands fall off or if he has a stroke out there we'll probably get sued by some smart-ass hotshot nephew-lawyer of his, or someone. What? You're still here?
"But he is old," I say as I clip away at the nail of my pinky toe, nail bits landing in the gap between us, "probably from Eastern Europe. Mud, insanity, bad religious stuff, life is for shit."
"Listen," she says, "now he's shouting something. Do you think he even knows he's in the hall?" By then I had finished the clipping part, but my toenails still had ragged edges and would shred my socks if I didn't file. Sylvia from beneath her pillow, muffled: "Stop him, damnit!"
"I'm filing," I tell her, "wait a minute or you go check." A minute later I get up and go to the door.
The banging and shouting stops as I open. The old guy is on the hall carpet, flat on his back, eyes open, blinking a little, but mostly he's just staring at the ceiling. There's frothy spittle around his mouth, the outer edge dried and caking. I have to think of the lawyer-nephew. I say, "Old man, get up, can I help, try, why not?" He says, "Go away, I'm resting, leave me." He has no foreign accent, but there is weirdness; my gut says he is from out of town. As I turn to go back to my place, he says, "Almost, almost I'm ready, but why? Why should I try?" This is philosophy and I have no good answers to philosophy. I ask him if he's a politician, and he stands right up.
We go into his apartment. His teakettle has stopped whistling and glows dull red atop his stove. I don quilted mittens, heave the kettle into sink water, and am greeted with angry hissing. A column of scalding steam creates a circle on the ceiling. Moistened paint flakes fall, the kitchen smells yeasty. The old man says, "My back door, it pops open, scares the hell out of me. I don't blame the super's kid and his friends for being thuggish dope fiends who hang around on my porch. It is natural behavior, age-appropriate behavior for them to get high on my porch. No, I blame them for rushing in when I'm at the table eating soup. They run past me, snatch my TV, giggle. And last night, in the middle of the night, they are in my bedroom opening drawers. I ran from the bed and gathered the knives. Next day, today, this morning, my bible, the Christian part, I find it opened, some text highlighted..." I stop him there, go and examine his back door, which won't close. I say, "Tonight you stay with us on the couch, take with you what you don't want stolen, and come." And he asks, "What do I have?" And I think, more philosophy, then lug his new TV (it's still in the box) across the hall. I give the old guy permission to fish around in my pants pocket for the keys and open the door to our apartment.
Backing in, the door slams open. From the bedroom, Sylvia shouts, "Now what?" then, "how come?"
**SUBSCRIBE TO THE2NDHAND if you like reading our our respective broadsheet and online series -- any donation above $30 gets you a LIFETIME SUBSCRIPTION to THE2NDHAND's quarterly broadsheet. See this page or send a payment through PayPal here: