On Christmas night, when the world was rejoicing at the birth of baby Jesus and families gathered around the fireplaces in the spirit of love and togetherness, Jameelah’s car got broken into, and they took her backpack, which had my camera. But even worse, Jameelah is a teacher, and her backpack contained 28 fourth graders’ animal reports. It’s awful. The kids had been working really hard writing about toucans, red pandas, whales, and pineapples (it’s a public school; don’t judge).
I have been thinking, with all of these misfortunes (the constant car break-ins, the office break-in, the car break-in while I was inside Office Depot buying things to replace the stuff stolen at the office break-in, the outbidding of the house we fell in love with, that one scar on my left ankle which refuses to heal despite my constant picking at it) that perhaps Karma is trying to get me for all the horrible, awful stuff I’ve done all these years. It’s trying to send me a sign, like on “My Name is Earl,” but instead of a redneck suffering from Karma’s wrath, it’s a sexy vegan.
And I think I know what I did, too. A while ago, I was renting out a room from Mr. No, a misogynistic 70-year-old man with missing front teeth who turned his living room into a Buddhist shrine complete with a disco ball. He was a hoarder, and his kitchen was disgusting, and he cursed like a sailor with a hangnail. But otherwise, he was a nice guy, always willing to help anyone in need. “Huy,” he would say, “women are bunch of greedy bloodsuckers. They’ll take your &^%# money and leave you an @#$! empty shell. That’s why I never got my #&%$ teeth fixed. I didn’t want them to be attracted to me.” Every morning, he would wake up at 4am and chant, while hundreds of squares of light from the disco ball spun all around. One day while I was sleeping he opened my door asked if I wanted to knock on the wooden knocker thing while he chanted. I locked my door after that. Those were the days, Mr. No and me, two carefree bachelors.
Then his stupid son got a divorce and was so distraught that I was kicked out so the son could crash at Mr. No’s house. I was angry and insulted, so when I left, I stole the Tempur-Pedic pillow he let me borrow. Sometimes I wonder if Mr. No ever knew that his pillow was missing among all the stuff he hoarded. Sometimes I feel guilty, thinking that perhaps Mr. No needed the pillow for his bad neck, and I had stolen it. But the pillow is so soft…so soft…like resting your head on a large bar of solid butter. Once in a while, I see Mr. No in the community, and he has always been cheerful and happy to see me, his eyes twinkling, his smile like a white-picket fence with the gate missing, which makes me feel even more guilty.
It’s been three years since I breathed in the scent of sandalwood incense wafting from his livingroom shrine. Since then so many horrible things have happened. Perhaps it is time that I return this pillow to its rightful owner and restore the balance to the universe. I don’t have his number, and I think he has moved. But I’ll track him down and do what is right. 2010 will be a year of penitence, of new starts, of redemption, starting with this pillow which is like laying one’s head on a thousand angel kisses.
And if that doesn’t work, I’m seriously going to go frickin’ ape-$#!% on Karma’s @$$!