Dog Day Afternoon


LOCATION Prospect Heights

RENT $950 [market]

SQUARE FEET 900 [duplex in 1987 walk-up]

OCCUPANTS Ntozake Lundy [owner, the Chocolate Monkey Espresso BarLounge and Muddy Waters Espresso and Tea]

Don’t call off the dogs. They are so bad.

Are they related? No. I found Sylvester on the street. Phoebe I got in Tinton Falls. They’re pointers. [To Sylvester] Right, big boy? You’re going to stay with Mommy forever.

You have a double water trough for them. [Dogs: Slurp, slurp, slurp.] That’s Mama’s baby boy.

Such big bones lying around. [Sylvester scratches himself with his paw. I take off my sweater.] It’s warm in here. It must be the dogs. Now, your apartment history—so epic. It was a nightmare. Last year alone, I moved three times. The first apartment was great. I loved the landlord, right near my café in Prospect Heights. Rent was $650. Then he had to put it on the market. I decided to leave early. He gave me back some rent though he still owed me half a month. I let it go because I’d often paid late and he never freaked out. Well, his ex-wife, who bought the apartment with him in college, came to pick up the keys to show it. My boyfriend, Anthony, and I had cleaned the place spotless because we wanted to get my security deposit back. She hated the color I had painted the place and went around to Muddy Waters and went ballistic on the barista working the counter and demanded that she help her tidy up the apartment. I wish I were exaggerating but when I got to work, Amy was in tears and all our cleaning supplies were gone. The landlord called and said he was sorry about his ex-wife. He gave me twice my refund back. I was so astounded but this was nothing in comparison to the ordeal of my next place. [We stop to kiss Sylvester.] My baby boy wakes me up in the morning with kisses, with kisses. Anthony and I had decided to shack up since he was always at my place anyway. I found a two-bedroom in Sunset Park for $1,150. The landlord must have called me 50 times to find out when he could come pick up the two months’ rent and security. I should have understood that’s a sign someone is desperate for cash. Three thousand dollars?! When Anthony came over to see the apartment, he noticed, as men will, so many structural issues. We asked the landlord if he could fix what appeared to be a leak in the bedroom and we noticed the carpet was brown, which might indicate a radiator leak. He told us he was not fixing anything. If we didn’t like it we could leave without our money. Anthony talked him into doing some things. That day Anthony did not go to work at his job at Home Depot. The landlord never came. I refused to pay rent but we’d already given him three months’. [Sylvester walks over.] What are you so happy about, precious? I’d come home. There was never any heat. My dogs were freezing all the time. I was on the phone with HPD every day. A few months later I got a notice to appear at a rent hearing. The judge informed me that unless I have all the back rent, I’d be removed by the marshal. A friend said I should call her landlords. I did. I love them. I moved here. The other thing isn’t over. There’s a hearing in a few weeks.

How much has this cost you? It eventually cost $15,000 in lawyer’s fees and back rent. [Growling begins. Sylvester jumps on top of Phoebe and opens his jaws around her head.]

It’s getting rough in here. I’m so sorry.

It’s exciting. So primal, in the middle of the afternoon. [She says something.]

I can’t hear you with all the roaring. [Yells.] I said, they’ll never break skin.

Look at those teeth. I guess it’s so if they have to pick up a partridge. It’s this wrestling thing they do. I want him to have an active life. He’s my baby.