I left because I was trying to help Damon. I could see in his eyes the desperation that I had two years ago. I thought I could tell that this was for real, and even though I really, really didn't want to throw everything away again, I did because I love my brother.
We needed money for our rent, because there was one month left to pay. We had only half of it readily available, so I racked my brain thinking of a solution to end my brother's pain. My mind settled on Jennette, a woman I worked with that Damian had known his entire life. She had recently broken up with her man, and she was bouncing from couch to couch until she could find a place to live. We came to her with a plan. If she pays just half of the rent, she would have this place to herself until April 30, the day our lease ends. She took the offer, and when she came over to give us the money, we told her very explicitly to not touch the computers (except mine, which was so shitty I couldn't see storing it until we got another place, so I gave it to her). Anything else, she could do with what she wanted, but Damon's and Damian's computers were off-limits. Damon's parents were to come by sometime and pick them up and keep them for us.
We had been gone for three days before Joyce (Damon's mom) came to pick up Damon's computer. That was Monday. Jennette called and said the apartment door was left wide open when she got home, and tried blaming it on Joyce and then turning around and saying that it was the maintenance guys instead. That sent flags flying for us everywhere. The maintenance guys have NEVER left our door just open. That's stupid. And why would she blame one person, and then change her story when we confronted her about it?
In the midst of all this, we went to the Alabama Gathering. Well, sort of. It was still five days before the Gathering officially started. At this point, all Damon had been doing was complain endlessly. We decided to try and spange up some more supplies, which did NOT make him happy. We left the Gathering and made it down to Montgomery (we were trying to make a round of Florida and come back after the Gathering was in full swing) when Damon decided he wanted to go home. He called his mom and they worked out a plan of sorts, and when it came down to it, we were supposed to take him home, where he had people that were willing to help him. Damian and I, not so much. That crushed me. I had given up everything I owned, for nothing. I had done the one thing I said I would never do again, for nothing. I was a homeless beggar again after a solid year of trying to improve myself, for nothing.
We tried as hard as we could to get home fast, but it seemed like every word out of Damon's mouth was, "I can't wait to get home," and "I just want to go home," and "When I get back to Illinois I'll..." and stuff like that. It was really getting to me. All the complaining, all the bad attitudes, it truly almost drove me to tell Damon to get the fuck out of the car and find his own way home if he thought he could do better. I tried to stay cheerful, I really did, but did he understand the sacrifice I made, not only physically but mentally as well? My peace of mind was gone, and all I heard in return were complaints.
I cried for a long time. I wanted to die. What was the point of going back to Pekin? What was the point of going anywhere? Why even live? I don't have the strength in me to start over again. I've done it five or six times now, starting from nothing and earning the things I want. I just wanted to lay in the middle of a road or field or something and wait until I got run over or absorbed into the earth or something. I was mostly angry that Damon didn't know himself well enough to know if he had the strength to do it.
Damian called his folks and asked them to help us. They grudgingly said we could stay in the house they are renovating, but only for two months. We got ahold of Jennette and told her that Damon would be moving back into the apartment, because he didn't have anywhere else to go. That's where things started getting really fucked up. She said she didn't think we could all be friends anymore if we lived together (and Damian and I wouldn't even be living there anyway). She said she already had a roommate. She got pissed, thinking that we were going to come home and kick her out if she didn't get rid of her roommate, which we honestly would have done in a heartbeat, if she wasn't willing to compromise. She gave us a bunch of bullshit stories trying to keep us out of here, and we told her we'd all talk when we got back.
Then, the bomb hit.
We were between St. Louis and Springfield, and Jennette sent me a text saying that the door was left wide open again and a change jar of hers and Damian's computer had come up missing. Damian's computer isn't just "a computer". It was a $3,500 custom piece of machinery, with the best of everything from a couple of years ago, and a brand new video card to boot (complimente de Katie). Our warning flags went off again and we started to wonder to ourselves. Who had been in that apartment? Jennette certainly doesn't know anything about computers. She said that "only Magen, Angie, and Brian had been in the apartment". Well, they are all idiots and don't know anything about computers either. She could have pawned it and said that she lost her change jar too in order to soften the blow. Come on, Jennette, I'm not stupid. I'm a very experienced liar. I know how to do it right and I can tell when something isn't right. But something wasn't right. Jennette said she had the computer sitting right by the TV, which was right in front of the door. If you opened the door, the first thing you should have seen was the computer. We started asking Joyce questions to try to clear the story up. Joyce said she hadn't seen his computer anywhere, but was able to tell us where every other thing in the apartment was. More and more, a looming sense of foul play descended on us.
Our door can be popped open with a credit card, if the deadbolt isn't locked. We knew that from the day we moved in. Even knowing that, we never locked the door in our apartment the entire year that we had been living here. Think about that. One year. Twelve full months. Not a single thing had been taken from our apartment, and the door was certainly never left wide open. The only conclusion we could come to was that Jennette, not expecting us to come back, had done something with the computer against our explicit instructions. I knew that there was something else though, something she hadn't told us.
We got home around one in the morning. We made a plan and went to bed. When we woke up, we took a trip up to the apartment to see what we could see. We popped the door open with a credit card because she hadn't deadbolted it. That was strange to me. If your door was left wide open two times in one week, and you had been robbed one of those times, wouldn't you start locking the door as much as you could? She had changed the locks, yes, but that was a futile gesture if you didn't lock the top lock. Anyway, we started to look around. Yes, it had been rearranged. We didn't find the ownership papers that Damian had for his computer, but we thought that maybe he had just misplaced them somewhere even though he was certain about where they were supposed to be, and yet weren't. Then, we went to every pawn shop in Pekin and Peoria to look for it, to no avail. On our way back into town, Jennette called and asked why we didn't stay when we broke into the house. I told her that we were looking for the computer that she pawned and she got pissed saying that she didn't pawn the computer and she didn't appreciate the accusations, etc, etc. Whatever, bitch. I asked her again who had been in the apartment since she left, and she said that a bunch of people had been in and out of this place to help her clean it out, and among them, Stephen, a coworker of hers and former coworker of mine.
Ah, Stephen, the missing link. The self-proclaimed huge computer geek, who wanted nothing more than an upgrade for his personal machine. All he'd have to do is look at the side of the tower (which was clear) and know that there was some serious horsepower in that box. Of course she didn't pawn it. He came by to help her clean the apartment, took one look at the computer, and greed washed over him. She probably told him he could have it. We came back here and tried to talk to her, but eventually it just ended up with us telling her to get the fuck out of our place. I told her it was cute, the whole robbery story, but it was too full of holes for us to ever believe her. She called the cops, and started talking a bunch of trash, getting up in Damon's face. She even slammed his computer over onto its side. The cops got here and she tried to get us in trouble, but they pretty much just told her to get her shit and leave. She bitched and bitched about how she was getting fucked because she selflessly paid half our rent and cleaned out the apartment (thanks but no thanks for the "favor", bitch, you certainly did clean us out), and all I could say was that I hope whatever she got for the computer, it was worth it. She said she didn't get anything, and I laughed and said that she really did fuck herself then.
After she had gone, Damon realized his expensive sound system for the computer was gone as well, and our internet router (but not the modem?) had been missing, too. All signs point to Stephen. He's the only one who would know what a router was for, and if he had just recently acquired a new computer, he'd be needing one.
But no matter. They'll get theirs.
So all in all, we have our apartment back, but at what cost?