The Basement

11/17/2020 0 By BuddyCushman

Jasper Silva (Kelly’s cousin) eyed the disaster which was the basement/cellar of the rooming house into which he had recently sunk well-earned cash as a new roomie, a renter of a room, his on the second floor over on the right side of the building when the building was viewed from the street, making it a room with both south and southwesterly facing windows, this of course a wicked good thing when you fall on your knees and give daily thanks for sunlight and brightness of viewpoint (not only this tangible solar directioning but also how you look at things in general day to day, you could be in a dark closet and maintain a viewpoint, duh), though this here-and-now point being he felt lucky to get a corner room and so far he figured the soundproofing in the house was better than decent as he’d heard virtually no noise from whoever roomed upstairs, the room above him, which may be hippies (he thought) considering the Jerry Garcia flag in the window and the look of brightly-colored posters on the wall, maybe they were finger paintings or crayon drawings but whatever, you could make out joyful colorings on the walls from down on the sidewalk.

But, as you will remember, this story begins in what is gently referred to as the basement, Jasper personally leans toward “cellar” which of course conjures up images of dirt on cracked concrete floor and spider web festivals anywhere your eyes can travel, especially into the crawl space in which a fellow could barely crawl, that’s all dirt and rat poop and who knows why it’s even there, maybe putting in pipes and building material necessities when the house was first being built, and already Jasper, newest resident and all, can tell you exactly that the date of this rooming house’s construction was back in 1859 – No, it’s not some psychic thing, because the year of building’s right there for anyone to see – the mailman, visitors to residents, FBI agents snooping around, salesmen, the kids who live here, Michael Rennie in disguise, strangers – on the historical memorial plaque just to the left of the front door. Which makes the place rather historical and likely explains the old-time cellar and its exaggerated areas, but when Jasper had walked carefully down the seven stairs five minutes earlier he’d had some of these immediate observations and clinging opinions (opinions which cling to what we first see and what we have known all our lives, and how we kind of assume that things are the way they’ve always been) and he’d made this journey from the second floor because Dhalia – the landlady of the house – had told him there was an old desk down in one of the basement’s corners and other than some of the rentee long-timers having stored a few things over against the far wall pretty much nobody went down there, so since he’d explained while going through the renter evaluation process he was an up-and-coming writer she’d let him know about the desk and the nearly-always private space and if he wanted to compose and create sentences and paragraphs down there and didn’t mind spiders and clutter and a little dirt – and she surely would not recommend going barefoot, if (she said) he was one of those kinds of writers — then he was free to use the basement space any old time before 10 pm (a house noise rule) and write to his heart’s content, and (she added) he may want to switch out light bulbs because they (bulbs) were currently 40-watters and the ground level windows weren’t much for allowing light from any given day to slip on in, so maybe 75 watts would better serve if he felt the need. And if it helped visually, or for all she knew spiritually, should he feel the need for 100-watters well that was something they (Jasper and Dhalia) would have to talk about because of the increased energy consumption, you know, and maybe she’d consider upping his rent five bucks or so a month, and that did seem reasonable to Jasper, both that perhaps he would be using a little more than his equal share of at least one utility and five bucks sounded good, she could have said 25 and that would have been a deal breaker, since a possible scheme to sneak down whenever inspired so as to use the place to write for free, high-powered bulbs in and out again, well that wasn’t going to happen with Dhalia’s room (which doubled as the rooming house “office”) directly across from the cellar door and considering in his first three weeks here at 279 Magnolia Road in Flagler Beach he never saw Dhalia going anywhere, no leaving the house, not even once, meaning she’d probably nab his ass when attempting surreptitious behavior, that’s why he was grateful to hear she was only thinking a finsky and, reminding himself, the upped rent was only if he twisted in three new 100-watt bulbs, and part of his coming down the stairs today, just now, was to take a long serious look at what he was thinking just might be a pretty cool place to write, retinal support under evaluation and all –

And he was for sure, these new days, feeling filled with things to say, stories to tell, ideas to share that would be, he was hoping, powerfully engaging for anyone reading them, of course always an author’s goal, write stuff that holds attention, and the couple of times previously he’d walked down these stairs he mostly just stood at the bottom on the concrete where it wasn’t yet cracked and had, it looked like, been swept a time or two, and he’d wondered to himself if this could, in fact, be a decent and possibly stimulating place and space in which to write, and after the last time he decided it could and would, and then laying on his bed one afternoon he’d had this vision of himself writing at that sub-level desk, with an office kind of chair on wheels which leans back and has good padding and support and you can often find those pieces of furniture in thrift shops or used furniture stores and he’d looked in the yellow pages and there were some around here in Flagler Beach and his current car was not a car but a ’63 Chevy small-bed pickup so moving a rolling chair would be a piece of cake, no help needed, and here it was a Thursday afternoon and he’d left work at the record store early and threw his backpack up in the room and had some of a newly-opened tonic water from his designated shelf area in the rooming house’s kitchen fridge and come down here more serious this time and decided, a couple of minutes ago that, yup, this would be the primary writing place of the up-and-coming author Jasper Silva, late of Cape Cod Massachusetts, and he’d start with 75-watt bulbs and see how his eyes felt and he decided he’d bring some Windex and paper towels down and seriously clean the windows because there’s nothing like natural light, even ground-level, and furniture polish for the desk which he was going to buff and buff repeatedly until that old grained wood was shining and proud, and he’d bring his typewriter down from his room and type for however long he was writing that day, which could be any day as of this coming Saturday when he figured he’d have all these plans accomplished, then carry his typewriter back up to his room at the end of writing since there was no lock for the cellar door and any of the house’s people had a right to come down here, not he expected any to be crooks, but still, the typewriter was very personally valuable and cherished, and it wasn’t too heavy, the old Royal, and he was feeling real good about being a writer and about 279 Magnolia Road, yes, with its available basement. And fair landlady. And probably hippie residents.