Every night, between the hours of one and five, a goblin rents my apartment.
I didn’t know about this arrangement until last week, but it’s been on my lease the whole time.
The goblin pays our landlord, Ted, by the hour. Goblins don’t have money, so he pays Ted with the lies of wicked little children.
That’s five lies of wicked little children a night. I asked Ted what he does with them. Ted says they make good paint thinner.
This is how I found out about the goblin that rents my apartment:
A friend of mine asked me if I would like to contribute regularly to a website. Impulsively, I agreed. But I’m not good at keeping to a schedule.
The night before my first deadline, I hadn’t started on anything. I had work the next morning, and I was dead tired. I went to bed early and set my alarm for two a.m., figuring I could write something before work.
My bedroom is an unholy mess, so I usually write at the table in my apartment’s common room. My roommates put up with this.
The goblin wasn’t cool with it.
I didn’t even notice him at first. I went straight for the kitchen, made some coffee, drank it in two gulps. Then I sat down at the common room table, right across from the goblin, and obliviously set up my laptop. As my computer booted up, I felt his glare. I don’t know if you’ve ever felt a goblin’s glare, but it feels a like bucket of wet cement pored over your head. Later on, I mentioned this to him, and he assured me that it’s intentional.
After I felt his glare, I looked up and saw his form.
His skin is the color of human failure, which is a dull orange. His three-foot tall body is plump, yet imposing. He’s bald, but he has a full beard made of black spider’s legs. They wriggle in quiet agony. His nose looks, and behaves, like a tube sock filled with cockroaches. He wears no clothing, save for a bird’s nest that serves as a loincloth. Broken egg shells and feathers can still be seen in its branches.
We stared at each other for a very long time.
Finally, in a deep, distorted voice that sounds as if it’s been slowed down to reveal satanic messages, he said, “Do you know what time it is?”
Then he explained the deal he had with our landlord. This filled me with a shrill indignation, which is my version of courage. Even after he directed my attention to page nine of my lease, I continued to argue.
“I’ve been awake at this time before,” I said, “and I’ve never seen you,”
He snorted, filling the room with a smell of sulfur.
“Well, have you ever drank coffee at this time before - dumbass?”
I admitted that I hadn’t.
“The coffee lets you see me,” he explained. “The magic beans stimulate your frontal lobe.”
I protested that it was just Chock Full o’ Nuts coffee, and that I’d bought it on sale with my Shaw’s Rewards Card.
“Beans is beans,” he informed me.
After I accepted the truth, we chatted for a while, and it seemed like this might be an okay set up. He didn't like me, but he didn't seem to like anything, so that took the stress off. Shortly before the clock struck five, however, he revealed that he intended to charge me for the three hours I’d just spent in his apartment. Another clause in my lease, which I really should have read more carefully, showed that he was well within his rights.
I told him that I couldn’t possibly pay him – I didn’t know how to collect the lies of wicked little children. He told me that was tough. But then he softened and said he could accept a jar full of the sweat created by my worst nightmares.
That worked out just fine.