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Philip Santos was on a bus, on his way to Toronto, to go househunting before his final move there in the fall. He had made arrangements with his friend Steven to stay on his couch for a few nights, and during the days he’d look at apartments. It was a good plan, but when he texted Steven to ask when and where he wanted to meet, there was no reply.
When the bus finally pulled in, Philip sat and waited at the bus station. Still no reply to his text. He had tried messaging Steven both on the phone and on Facebook, but still, nothing. Finally, it was time to admit that, for whatever reason, Steven had let him down. So he went onto Facebook and made a post, throwing himself on the mercy of his group of friends, hurrying before his phone battery died.
“Anyone in Toronto have a couch I could crash on tonight? My previous arrangements have fallen through.”
Within minutes, there were a few people suggesting he just find an all-night Tim Horton’s and stay up all night, which wasn’t very helpful. Wouldn’t do much good if the turned up to the apartment showing unshaved and unwashed and looking like he hadn’t slept. Landlords wouldn’t think too highly of that.
A few people posting “Yikes! Hope you find something!” Well meaning, but also unhelpful. And someone suggested he find a cheap motel or hostel, which was something he had thought of was hoping to avoid. He was already missing a week’s work on this trip, and buses were more expensive than they used to be. But it was definitely an option, if a last resort. And then his phone died.
He was getting hungry. He lugged his suitcase out of the terminal and looked around outside. He didn’t know this neighbourhood, or know where anything was, but there was a little Vietnamese place on the corner that looked okay. Maybe they’d let him charge his phone, too.
He found a table with an empty outlet and slid the suitcase under his chair and plugged in his phone. He ordered a bowl of pho at the counter and sat down to wait for it, wondering what he would do after this. Eventually the pho arrived and it was pretty good. When he was finished, he decided to try to turn his phone back on. It should have charged enough by now. Maybe there had been a new development on Facebook.
He’d gotten a text while the phone was charging.
“Are you still looking for a place to sleep tonight? I have a guest bedroom.”
It was from Margot Blumstein.
Margot had probably been his very first crush. When Philip was about twelve, his best friend in the world was Gary Blumstein, a kid roughly his own age. Philip had had trouble fitting in at the new school after his parents moved out to the country. Being half-Philipino and half-Chinese, he was the first non-white kid the school had ever had, but Gary wasn’t weird about it or anything and they quickly became friends. Margot was Gary’s sister, about seven years older than him and Philip. She’d always been nice to him. He remembered the day she went off to college. He’d given her a goodbye card, he remembered.
He’d more or less lost contact with the Blumstein family after he and Gary went to different high schools. Sure, he was Facebook friends with Gary and Margot, but hadn’t seen either of them in person in years. He remembered hearing that she had gotten married at some point and then divorced.
He looked up directions to her address on Google Maps, and then wrote it down on his receipt just in case his phone died again, and headed out.
It was a longish walk, especially with the suitcase, but he finally arrived at her house on Euclid Avenue. For a moment, he couldn’t believe she lived here. Beautiful old brick houses everywhere, and far more greenery than he was used to. He knew her house had to be divided up into multiple units, but still, this was a beautiful place, and probably way out of his own price range. She must be making some good income. He went to knock on the door.
As the door swung open, Philip’s age-old crush on her came roaring back into his mind. She was as gorgeous as ever. Maybe not in a movie star way, he knew. She’d always been content with unfashionable haircuts that made her look older than she was, and her tendency to wear glasses that looked like they belonged on a Gary Larson character’s face didn’t help matters. Her nose was big and somewhat crooked, but in a cute Jennifer Grey kind of way. And the smile she gave when she saw him lit up all her imperfections and turned them into virtues.
Before anyone could say a word, she pulled him in for a hug. “Philip Santos! It’s been such a long time! How are you?”
“I’m great,” he said, returning the hug. She smelled like lilac and lavender, and he could feel her heavy, but perky, breasts pressed up against him. “Thank you so much for giving me a place to stay.”
“Oh, it’s my pleasure,” she said. “Come on in. And let me take your suitcase.” Before he could protest and say it was fine, she took it from him. For a moment, her fingers brushed against his, and the softness of the contact so shocked him that he would have dropped the suitcase güvenilir canlı bahis siteleri altogether if she hadn’t already gotten a grip on it. He wondered if she’d noticed. As she walked back in, he stole a glance at her bum. Margot had always had wide hips and a large, beautiful bottom, he thought. There was something sexy in how unsexual she seemed, and it made him feel daring just to contemplate it.
He stepped inside her house. She lead him up a flight of stairs through the common area, to her own door. He noticed her key fob was a little Betty Boop face. Inside her door, they stepped into a plushly decorated living room, almost overwhelmingly pink. There was a baby-pink couch and armchair facing the TV, pink-and-white gingham curtains, and a thick pink carpet. She had a poster of The Little Mermaid on the wall over the couch and a collection of what looked like animation cells on one wall, mostly from old Disney and Don Bluth movies, and a big white bookcase full of movies. He noticed, right away, a lot of Disney stuff, mostly in those anniversary re-release editions.
She lead him to the guest bedroom now. It was much soberer in design, with a pale blue wallpaper, wooden single-size bed frame, white bedspread. A wooden desk, with a framed picture of a sailboat and a chipped china mug full of pens. She placed his suitcase down on the bed and sat down next to it, and patted the spot on her other side, signalling him to sit beside her.
“It’s so great to see you!” she said.
Philip sat beside her, uncomfortably aware of the proximity of her body. “You too,” he said. “What’s new?”
She looked troubled for a moment. He realized the divorce hadn’t been all that long ago, and was afraid he had struck a sore spot. “Not much,” she said. “Work, mostly. Things are going pretty well, I guess.” He could tell that things weren’t going well on all fronts, but thought it would be better not to pry.
“What do you do, again?”
“I’m a psychotherapist. Working at a drop-in clinic right now, but looking at opening my own practice in a year or two.”
“I was wondering how you could afford a place like this.” He gestured around.
“It’s not cheap. How about you? What’s brought you down to Toronto?” She didn’t pronounce the second ‘t’. She’d been here long enough, gone native.
“Househunting, at the moment. Starting grad school at U of T in the fall. I’m in civil engineering.”
“That’s a good field,” she said. “Are you still dating what’s-her-name? Sarah?”
Philip was a little startled. “How did you know about her? That was long after you went to university.”
“I saw it on your Facebook wall. I think I ‘liked’ it. I remember thinking, good for her. I always knew he’d make a girl very happy one day.”
He was flattered. “Well, we broke up earlier this year,” he said.
A bit of Margot’s sadness seemed to return. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I know how that is.”
“It’s okay,” he said. “We were never really right for each other.”
She patted his knee. “These things come and go. The important thing is not to get bitter over it, and it looks like you’re doing pretty well on that. Listen, you look really hot right now.”
“What?” This was sudden.
“From the walk,” said Margot. Oh. Of course. And come to think of it, he was pretty sweaty. “Why don’t I draw you a nice bath, and then we’ll get dinner? Maybe watch a movie afterward?”
That sounded great. “Dinner’s my treat,” said Philip. “You’ve already done so much for me. Besides, I was meaning to cover dinner anyway. I’d… I’d set aside money to, uh, before my prior arrangements fell through.” She smiled at his stumbling over his words.
She had the cleanest bathroom he’d seen in years, with a very white bathtub. He was mostly used to showers, but had to admit the bath was very nice. This was a habit he could get into.
They ended up going to a little fusion taco place on College Street. It was excellent, but cost a bit more than he’d realized, and intended to spend. He spotted a mischievous smile on her face at his presumably-shocked expression. Oh well, he thought. I owe her anyway. Afterward, they went back to her house and watched The Fox and the Hound, which he hadn’t seen since he was a kid but it totally held up.
After the movie ended, she stretched out her arms. “I should get to bed,” she said. “I have an appointment tomorrow morning. I’ll leave you a spare key, though, okay?”
“Sounds great. Thanks again for letting me stay here.”
“It’s my pleasure,” she said again. She looked for a moment like there was something else she wanted to say, but she didn’t. She got up and walked to her room. As she opened the door, he caught a glimpse inside. Her bed had soft pink sheets with white lace and a ton of pillows. There was one of those cat-face clocks, the kind with the eyes that move back and forth, over her bedside table and… he could have sworn there was a vibrator.
For a moment, Margot froze, like she, too, had realized what he had just seen. Then she quickly shut the door. güvenilir illegal bahis siteleri “Good night!” she squeaked.
Philip lay in the bed in the guest room, mostly just grateful for a place to sleep, not wanting to press his luck. Had it been his imagination, or had there been genuine electricity between himself and his childhood crush? Sure, she was older, but that wouldn’t stop him. If she made an offer, anyway.
He slowly became aware of a faint humming sound coming from the other side of the wall. He sat up in bed, and as he did so, he heard his own bed squeak a little bit. Then the sound from the wall stopped. He lay back down, and after a moment, it resumed.
Suddenly Philip realized that this was the wall separating the guest bedroom from Margot’s own room. The humming sound was coming from her room! He kept listening, and he could hear her breathing now, heavily. Was she…
He heard a muffled gasp. She was!
The thought made Philip both uncomfortable and aroused. He now felt like an intruder, desecrating what was supposed to be her private moment. But at the same time, he wondered what she was thinking about as he pleasured herself. Did he figure into her fantasies? He pictured her, lying in bed, full breasts jiggling as her fingers worked at her beautiful pussy and that bright blue vibrator buzzed over her clitoris. He imagined juices flowing, pouring out. There was a box of Kleenex on his bedside table. Good. He reached a hand down his boxers and grabbed a hold of his swelling, hard penis. It was all he could do to keep from crying out her name as he brought himself to orgasm.
When he woke up the next morning she was already gone, but he found a note pinned to her refrigerator.
“Good morning, Philip Santos! Back from my appointment around 1pm. Help yourself to anything from kitchen, or there’s a Tim Horton’s on Bathurst and Dundas and a Starbucks at College and Euclid. Spare key is on kitchen table. If you need to text me, my number is xxx-xxx-xxxx. WiFi network is xxx123, password is 12345. See you soon!”
Funny. She didn’t strike him as a gamer. He chuckled, and took a look in the cupboards and refrigerator. There was enough to make a decent breakfast. He fried himself two eggs and made toast and coffee. He didn’t have any apartments showings until this afternoon, so he went onto Facebook to post that he had, after all, found a place to sleep, and not to worry. He probably should have done it last night, but he’d honestly forgotten. He got dressed and shaved and spent most of the morning watching YouTube videos and looking at more apartment ads. He was just emailing a reasonable-looking one-bedroom basement when he heard the front door open. He looked at the time. That would be Margot back. “Is that you?” he called.
“It’s me!” she responded. “How was your morning? Find everything okay?”
“I did,” he said. She came into the living room, looking so radiant with the sunlight coming in behind her that she took his breath away. Her hair was done up in an elegant bun and she had on a cute red-and-white polka dot blouse, tight black pencil skirt, and black sheer stockings. He thought about those stockings, those legs, what he had heard last night, and tried to put it all out of his mind. The last thing she wanted now would be some horny kid taking advantage of her generous hospitality.
“I… I have a place to go see at five,” he said, gathering his wits together. “Been looking at more postings today.” Just as he said it, there was a ding from his laptop. Someone had emailed him back! “Oh, great. One-bedroom basement on Major Street for 1250$ a month.” He grimaced. He knew Toronto was expensive but this was crazy. “I can see it the day after tomorrow.”
“That sounds like an okay deal,” she said. “Depending on your budget, of course, but you’re not going to find a one-bedroom much cheaper than that.”
“Why’d I have to break up with Sarah? I could really use a roommate now. Joking,” he explained. “I mean, I could use a roommate. That part’s true.”
“I could ask around,” she said. “I don’t know very many students though.”
“That’s okay,” he said. “I’ve had bad roommate experiences before, especially when I moved in with people I didn’t already know personally.”
She nodded. “Why’d you have to break up with Sarah?” It was a rhetorical question, a commiserating repetition of his earlier joke, but he felt compelled to answer anyway. He felt very comfortable discussing it with her, much to his own surprise.
“We were just too different, I think. I was classic ’70s rock, she was country and western.”
Margot laughed out loud. “That is the sort of town it was, wasn’t it?”
He nodded. “A lot of people I remember from Grade 8 are married now and have kids. I can’t believe it sometimes.”
“Well, that’s the downside of the whole no-sex-before-marriage mentality, isn’t it? They’re young, healthy, and hormonal. They don’t want to wait, so they get married as quickly as possible.”
“Sarah wanted to wait,” he said quietly.
“Oh,” güvenilir bahis şirketleri said Margot. There was an awkward pause. “And you were with her basically all through high school and most of your undergrad, right?”
“So you’ve never…” She left the question hanging.
“Had sex? Not really,” he admitted. “She gave me a blowjob once. Neither of us really enjoyed it.”
“It sounds,” said Margot, after a long pause, “like you two weren’t right for each other. Don’t worry about, Philip. You’re still young. Plenty of time left for you.”
“Thanks. Why’d you emphasize ‘you’ there?” The moment he said it, he regretted it. Surely this was a faux pas. But she didn’t seem to take it that way.
“I don’t know. I feel old sometimes. Like I’ve missed my chance. You know what happened, right?”
Philip chose his words carefully. “I knew there was a divorce last year. Nothing beyond that. But you’re still young too.”
“I was pregnant,” she said. “We were going to have a baby. But it died in the womb. I miscarried it.”
“Oh my God,” he said. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s not your fault,” she said.
“I know, but I’m still sorry.”
“He blamed me for it,” she went on. “I blamed myself. And here I am. That guest bedroom was supposed to be a nursery. I feel like I’m dead inside. Not just emotionally but biologically.” Philip looked at her face. There were no tears in her eyes, but she had a certain faraway expression. He reached out and clasped her hand and held it, tight. It seemed like the right thing to do. She smiled at him. There were tears in her eyes now. “That appointment I had this morning wasn’t with a client. That was with my own therapist. I’ve been dealing with pretty severe depression and anxiety for the past year.”
They ate lunch in a companionable silence. It was a chili she had in a big stew pot in the fridge, and they heated it up in a saucepan. They watched cat videos to cheer themselves up.
“Can I come with you today, when you look at that apartment?” she asked.
“Do you want to? Sure,” he said.
“Yeah, I think I might be able to help. I know a bit about renting. I have a friend on the Landlord and Tenant Board.”
“Sure, sounds great,” he said. “Can we get ice cream after? I feel like we could both use an ice cream.” She smiled at him.
“I really missed you, Philip Santos.”
It was a building on Spadina, a few blocks north of Bloor. There was a nice bit of green surrounding it but the building itself was poorly-maintained. The landlady lead them past an upscale lobby and into a cracked, dingy hallway that smelled like antiseptic. They went up an elevator to the seventh floor.
“You’ll like it here,” the landlady said. “Good amount of space.” As he looked into the apartment, he wondered how good an amount he’d been expecting. The kitchenette was cramped, and looked like it didn’t have room to store much. The living room was an okay size. Not great, not livable. The bedroom was a bit of a matchbox, though. He could probably fit a twin bed and a single smallish cabinet in here for clothes.
“When was the last time you sprayed for cockroaches here?” Margot asked the landlady. The tenderness Philip had seen in her before was gone. This was a sharper, pricklier side to her.
“We never have cockroaches in this building,” the landlady said.
Margot narrowed her eyes. “Okay,” she said, and left it at that.
“Can I see the laundry?” Philip asked.
“No laundry in the building. There’s a place around the corner.”
“You’re charging, what is it, twelve-fifty a month, and you don’t have on-site laundry?” said Margot.
“Sorry, which one of you is staying here?” asked the landlady.
“He might be,” said Margot. There was something in her tone, not confrontational exactly, but subtly challenging. “I’m just here as a friend and advisor.” The landlady eyed her with obvious dislike. Philip thought it best to defuse the situation and get out of there as politely as possible.
“Can I have an application?” The landlady handed him a sheet to fill in.
“First and last month’s rent, up front,” she said. “And credit report and proof of employment.”
“Thanks. I’ll email this back to you as soon as I can.”
“What did you think of that place?” said Margot, as they ate their ice cream in the park.
“I didn’t love it,” he said. “But I don’t know if I can afford much better.”
“That place was a shithole,” she said. “You can find better for just as cheap, if not cheaper. There were cockroaches, by the way. I saw one in the hall. Here’s a free tip, kid: every building in Toronto has had roaches at one time or another. If they say they haven’t, they’re lying, and if they’re lying, they’re not dealing with it.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” he said. He wasn’t sure how he felt about her calling him ‘kid’. “Well, there’s another place to look at tomorrow afternoon. Listen, I really appreciate you coming with me today. Your experience is very helpful.” Margot blushed.
“One thing you, um, might want to do when we get back to my place is print out a few copies of your credit report and your proof of employment or your transcript showing you’re a student or whatever. If you have all your paperwork ready upfront, they really like that. They’re trying to close a deal as quickly as possible. Remember that.”
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