In college, for years I lived in San Francisco above a Hawaiian restaurant and bar, and below drug dealing brothers. The brother dealers were in their thirties and lived with their dad. My housemates and I deduced that at least one of the three living above us was a crackhead, as we unceasingly heard mutterings driveling from mouths punctuated by clusters of obscenities. One of those residing above us may have had turrets.
The Hawaiian restaurant and bar was baptized Hukilau. Our Hukilau apartment's paint exfoliated itself, the kitchen floor sloped, and none of the rooms had closets. The garbage cans dwelled two feet from our front door, and because of the proximity to the restaurant, we had pig-sized rats living under our disintegrating wooden stairs. The rats flying-squirrel-flew at us every six hours. Their eyes scintillated sabotage in dissolving sunlight.
Our habitat housed ants, flies, rats, cockroaches, mold, leaks, and unclassified vermin. When we contacted the landlord because a roof leak drooled onto my housemate's bed, the native Frenchman arrived howling that we were spoiled Americans, and we should just move the bed. He then tore apart our trash, shrieking that we were lazy Americans who didn't know how to break down boxes.
Our alluring abode engrossed a whale-penis-length hallway. Four bedrooms, one bathroom, a hall closet, kitchen, and living room all veered from the hallway like a sociopath's sense of direction.
One day, without any aggravation, food we had disposed of down the sink ejaculated into the bathtub.
One birthday, my housemate Fi-T received a year's steak supply from her parents. She had wanted a camera. One April night, she thawed some frozen steak in our bathroom sink. Thirty minutes later, Hukilau's manager body-slammed our front door. The meat had barred the drain. Sink water discharged through the floor and showered Hukilau's bar-seated customers' drinks, bar staff, and the business' alcohol apparatus.
In our apartment, Fi-T and I shared a sliding wall, and the kitchen counter space was as limited as a brothel's.
Hukilau's owners divulged that during Prohibition our apartment used to be a whore house, when Hukilau was an ice cream parlor with an underground tunnel to a bar across the street. They exposed the basement wall to us, with scalped paint sketching life-sized African Americans. Their lips, noses and asses looked like collagen had been catapulted into them.
The drug dealers disclosed that our apartment used to be an elite ganja-growing den with high pressure sodium lamps roping the ceilings.
Hawaiian Hukilau's Mexican chef had gold-rimmed teeth and an obese gold chain. My housemates, friends, and I frequented Hukilau's bar whenever we wanted a beer, and Hukilau's bathroom whenever our toilet backed up. The chef provided complimentary garlic fries. A lesbian manager Hukilau possessed for a year sacrificed money masses by administering beer pitchers to us. One weekend, after the manager's one-and-a-half second persistence to stay after closing, three o'clock in the morning found one of my friends vomiting in the bathroom, one fox-trotting behind the bar, one caroling on top of the bar, and my carcass slumped over the bar with my forehead incapacitating forearms like a plastered rum pirate. We hadn't paid for any booze. We never fingered why she got fired.
A bottle of Crown Royal whiskey daily escorted one of Hukilau's owners. After our beer pitchers, Owner would send us shots from his personal reservoir. For two years, Fi-T consistently thanked Steve for the Crown. His name wasn't Steve.
One night, Fi-T, our friend Mgs, and I soberly penetrated Hukilau to say hi. The night before had been saturated with incoherent babble, loss of bodily functions, and erroneous beliefs of elegance and beauty. Thus, the next night, we were sober. Owner greeted us with a shot of Crown each. Six rounds and impaired vision later, I couldn't execute a phone call. Two rounds after that, Mgs caught a cab the five blocks back to her apartment. An irresolute amount of shots after that, my brain comprehension faded with my ability to walk.
The next morning, my body catatonic, I questioned Fi-T from my bed. My vocal dilations, which more resembled grieved moans, reached her in her bed in the next room. She didn't know what happened either. Four hours later, when we belly-flopped downstairs to ask where our night went, we were told that we left our lives at the bar. Hukilau's staff had erected a small mountain from our belongings: my jacket and purse, Mgs' camera, and Fi-T's phone and wallet. Someone said they saw me and Fi-T crawling up the stairs.
It's been a year and a half since we lived above Hukilau. My college housemates and I visited the bar for drinks. Decorations have altered, managers have shifted, prices and menus have revolved. But, the Mexican chef is still there, and the ceiling stain from Fi-T's steak presides over the bar.