I’m fairly close with my landlord. He lives on the bottom floor of the building. He’s called Malcom. He’s a little hunched over; he has these big hands; he cooks all sorts of foods I’ve never heard of. Most Sundays I’m down there, we have an early dinner and we watch Jeopardy and he makes lists for the week and I watch him make his lists and we watch Jeopardy and he shakes his head a little when the guess is bad or if they bet too much, I’ve never heard him guess or anything but I bet if he did he’d be right. His accent is very hard to place. He’s white I’m pretty sure.
Some weeks I also go down on another night too, in addition to the Sunday. I’ll bring him spaghetti or soup or something. I’m an awful cook but I make a few things. I tell him stories sometimes, usually just the things happening around me. I don’t know if he likes them or if he’s even listening but I like telling them but I don’t have a ton of people to tell them to usually anyway.
This one day I planned on making him meatloaf but I couldn’t make only one serving of that anyway and it was easy to give him half. I was getting all my stuff at the grocery store, the one on Fullerton, not the one close by; the one close by never had what you needed. They had the things you didn’t need that were just processed and neon and I didn’t need those. I was at the one on Fullerton but I went at the wrong time and they didn’t have enough workers and I pretended I didn’t see the line wrapping all the way around the aisle and I just kind of scooted in the front looking at my phone and I kind of shrugged and looked apologetic when someone called me and then I was at the register by then anyway so who fucking cares.
Anyway I go home and I make the meatloaf and it doesn’t come out half bad. It comes out how it always does and the whole process makes me sweat and want to be a vegetarian but whatever its half for me and half for Malcom and I finish and I start walking down the stairs to his unit. Past the neighbor on my floor that sounds like he’s always jacking off and past the two on the next floor down, the one below me that has a cat or a raccoon or some feral thing and past whoever’s under my neighbor, a college kid I think, somehow, and down and down and eventually I’m at Malcom’s and he’s already at the door he moves so fast for being shaped like that but he’s here and says happy Halloween which is his joke that no one gets but it makes him laugh so that’s good.
We cut the meatloaf and we sit on the lazy boys and he turns the TV on and it’s playing his VHS machine copy of Jaws that I’d bet my life he’s rewound a hundred goddam times and we were at the dolly shot part and Malcom says Stephen was 25 when he made this and I laugh and said Stephen was good at his job and Malcom tisks, I don’t know at what. We keep watching and I ask him again, even though I know his answer, What’s with the Eames chair Malcolm and his eyes flit from the screen to the chair and back to the screen and he says it was a gift.
I don’t know who gifts their landlord a $10,000 chair or their dad or their husband or what. I don’t think he has a family, he’s got no pictures or ring, but he doesn’t tell stories usually, I do. And I say that’s a nice gift and he doesn’t say anything and he looks back at the screen and they won’t clear the beaches and the room smells like meat and ketchup and we’re both sitting quietly.
It's fake he says. He says it much later, so late that I need to think about what he’s talking about. It’s not a real one he says again, impatient now. I say Why do you have a fake Eames chair and he says a tenant left it after they moved out. I wait and he says nothing more and I say that’s a great find and he flits his eyes over to me for a second and back to the screen and Quint is starting his black-eyes story and he smiles a little and says yeah it’s a good find and we keep watching the rest of the movie.