Rich & Poor
Stories by Katherine Jamieson, Uschi Gatward, Lisa Blaushild, and Michael Gural-Maiello, brought to life by Virginia Bosch, Kristen Calgaro, Max Woertendyke, and Basil Rodericks. Hosted by Andrew Lloyd-Jones at KGB Bar, NYC on 4th June 2014.
As the guests arrive, we marinate their insides with alcohol and sodium and then encourage them to baste their exteriors in salt water. We apply deceptively low heat for long periods, waiting a few days for the skin to redden and crack as their bodies bloat. This is the recipe for our all-inclusive resort. The guests tumble out of vans pale skinned and parched from their airline journey. Then they cook like shellfish, barely noticing the change.
So this is it then. I've been here a year today. It isn't much, but then it isn't much. In fact it's ridiculously cheap. Very few people know that you can get rooms in London this cheap.
I'm paying less now than I was paying ten years ago when I first moved to London. I don't mean less in real terms, taking into account the cost of inflation. I mean really less. I'm paying less than I have ever paid. Although ten years ago I was paying far too much for my room. What you get, for less than half what you would dream of paying, is a bedsit in a block of eighteen bedsits which was probably once six flats. This is all the space I need.
I don’t mean to badger you, but you’re once again late with your monthly payment. My wife and I agreed to lend you five dollars with the provision that you’d send us seven cents on the first of each month until the loan is fully paid off by the year 2018. Of course, five years is a long time to wait to have our five dollars returned to us, but we were willing to do so because you’re experiencing severe economic hardship and we wanted to give you time to get back on your feet again.
The mattress showed up a few days before Aunt Helene was due to arrive. I’d just gotten home from school, and was eating my peanut butter and celery sticks when the doorbell rang. Mom guided the deliverymen up the stairs to the guest bedroom, where they removed the old stained, floral-patterned mattress my sister had slept on until she went to college, and replaced it with a golden cream-colored one with a fuzzy top that looked like something you might sleep on in heaven. I reached toward it with my peanut-buttery fingers, but mom swatted them away, and asked the men not to remove the plastic cover just yet.