Home > Daddy's Pretty Baby

Daddy's Pretty Baby
Author: Cassandra Dee




“Melissa!” shrieked the voice from the other side of the door. “Melissa!” Catherine screamed again.

I sighed, burrowing under my sheets. God, if only I could make my roommate go away. I was behind on rent, true, but at the same time, the café had cut my shifts even though I was barely scraping by as is. Plus, I wasn’t a waitress at a high-end restaurant where the servers make a bonanza in tips. I was a waitress as the Dunkin’ Doogie, a place two blocks away that specialized in Doogie Donuts and Doogie Dingos. Don’t ask me about the ingredients, it’s gross, involving unnamed fluids that are more than a little unhygienic.

But the Dunkin’ Doogie was my only source of income right now because I’m an art student trying to graduate, and between supplies, classes, rent, and food, I was flat broke. No, worse than broke. I was in the red, I owed more than a thousand dollars in back rent.

“Melissa!” screamed Catherine once more. “Get out here!”

With a reluctant sigh, I yanked my comforter off. My entire room was dingy and sad, a huge yellow water stain on the ceiling, the floor uneven and tilted. Even Goodwill furniture was out of my budget, so instead I’d turned to cast-offs found on the street, whatever I could scavenge, and the result wasn’t pretty. My bedside table wasn’t really a table, it was an upturned cardboard box that I’d tried to make look nice with a colorful sheet draped over the top, never mind that the sheet had a hole on the side. My bed was just a mattress on the floor, a frame would have blown my budget. And the only source of light was a halogen lamp that tottered unsteadily, definitely a fire hazard, the marshal would have a fit if he saw.

But this was home. This was my first apartment since moving to New York City to pursue my dream of being an artist, and frankly, I was happy to have the privacy. When you’ve grown up among a throng of kids, any personal space is a blessing, even if it isn’t much.

But rent. Right. I hadn’t paid my half last month, begging a loan from Catherine, and shit, but this month had come so fast. I didn’t have anything, not if I wanted to eat. So reluctantly, I tied a scraggly bathrobe around my waist and pulled open the door.

“I know, I know,” I said apologetically, holding my hands up. “I’m sorry, I’ll find a way to get you the money, I know we’re behind.”

But Catherine stood with her hands on her hips, chin jutting out accusingly.

“It’s too late, Melissa,” she snarled. “Look, we got a notice,” she said, holding out a piece of paper.

I took it, and it didn’t look so bad. It started, “Dear Tenant,” and went on for paragraphs and paragraphs, most of it legalese that I couldn’t understand. What the hell? I was gonna go blind reading this stuff, I needed a magnifying glass.

“I’m sorry,” I sighed again. “But what does this say? You know I’m an artist, these long documents are gibberish to me.”

Catherine grew purple with rage then, the veins on her forehead pulsing, her entire face swelling with anger.

“What it says,” she spat. “Is that we’ve been evicted. We have a week to get out of here.”

I went pale, staring at the paper in my hands again.

“What? Wait, where does it say that? Wouldn’t it be in red letters somewhere, something along the lines of YOU’RE EVICTED?” I asked, nonplussed. I don’t know a lot about housing law, but surely this wasn’t the letter. It looked too nice, black words on stark white paper, hell, with a real signature at the bottom. The document looked more like a presidential citation than an eviction notice.

But Catherine snatched the paper away from me then.

“Here, it says right here,” she snarled, a perfectly polished nail pointing at a sentence. I leaned forward and squinted a bit.

“That doesn’t have the word eviction in it,” I remarked dubiously. “It just says that the owner’s son is moving in. That’s fine, he can take my room, I can sleep on the couch,” I said in a conciliatory manner.

“No, you dipshit!” screamed Catherine. “They don’t want your room, they want the entire place! New York rental law stipulates that one of the reasons you can get kicked out is if the owner himself wants to move in. And now, because you’ve been such a bad tenant, we’re being made to move. Gawwwwd!” the blonde wailed, her red pout turned upside down. “Gawwwd! Where is Muffy going to live? How am I gonna find a pet-friendly building without some godawful deposit?”

And I frowned then. That was true. Muffy, despite her delicate name, is actually a pit bull mix, totally out of character for someone as uptight as Catherine. The she-dog has jowls that hang down to the floor, gummy and slobbery, and red eyes that make her look like the Tasmanian devil. The pup is actually quite sweet, but based on appearances, she came off like a ferocious fighting animal. Catherine inherited Muffy from her brother or something, and the canine is her go-to, her confidante, her everything since the blonde doesn’t exactly make friends easily.

“Listen, I’ll help,” I said reasonably. “I need to look for a new place too, we’ll look together, only dog-friendly apartments, got it.”

And my so-called friend shot me a frigid look then.

“You mean we’ll look for apartments apart,” she spat. “Your credit is shot, Melissa, there’s no way you’d qualify for any apartment. Plus, prospective tenants need to make forty times rent. Are you even close? How’s that job of yours going?”

I bit my lip. This clearly wasn’t the time to reveal that my shifts at the café had been cut and I was short on money again. So I just nodded sagely, putting my hands up.

“I get it, I get it,” I said in a soothing voice. “We’ll go our separate ways, you and Muffy, and me alone. Sure, no problem.”

At that, Catherine swung around, her blonde ponytail almost hitting me in the face, grabbing her dog’s pink leash.

“That’s right,” she snapped. “Do your own thing, we’re through. I don’t want my credit to be ruined too, Melissa, you’ve just been such a fucking hot mess lately, I can’t deal anymore.” And with that, Catherine stomped out the front door, Muffy sniveling and trailing behind her. With a sigh, I listened as they clattered down the stairs of our fifth-floor walk-up, her pet probably leaving slobbery strands of drool on the steps. God, what a safety hazard, but I guess it wouldn’t be my problem anymore. Maybe the next place I lived could be ground floor or even basement. I wouldn’t mind living in a subterranean place so long as the rent was cheap.

So I strode back into my room and threw myself on the bed. Ouch, without a box spring, the coils dug into my back and my head literally bobbled, perilously close to the ground. Man, I was in a bad state, I really couldn’t afford anything.

But where there’s a will, there’s a way, so with determined resolve, I flipped open my ancient laptop. Please, please, please turn on. And with a slight buzz and a flickering screen, it did. Thank god, today was gonna be my day, I could feel it.

But as I browsed apartment listings, I realized that my initial spark of optimism was nothing but a flash in the pan. Because today was not going to be my day, nor was tomorrow, nor the day after. The listings I saw were either way out of my price range, or super-skeevy sounding. There were a couple listings only for females, and it wasn’t because the current person preferred the cleanliness and fastidiousness of a girl. It sounded like they wanted a female to give them a massage in return for a reduction in rent, for some kinky play on the side. Or there were some that offered Central Park views and a private bathroom, so long as you provided “personal services” for the owner. Uck. That was definitely off the list.

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