Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Ballad of Kibo and Bushi

Renting a flat in London is akin to fighting and alligator while naked and drunk. For example, when trying to rent our flat Kathryn was in the office of the letting agent (ah, yes the letting agent . . . for some reason you have to go through a middleman to get a place . . . they are of the devil) with a deposit plus three months rent: in cash. Its only a 6 month lease! The letting agent, whose blood is black with sin, insists on having a guarantor before he can rent the flat. To get that straight that is a person who will pay the rent if we don't. Oh yeah, Kathryn was in England for all of a month, she knew tons of people willing to do such a thing. She offered my left testicle. "I'll need both," replied the letting agent.

All this ado gave me the impression that this is one special flat. It is.

The flat is located in a little suburb of London called Dartford. Dartford is known for its CHAV. These are suburban kids who think that they are in the Wu Tang Clan Much like many suburban white kids state side, but funnier because they don't have any first hand experience with real American Black Thugs, but I'll save this for another day. CHAV, I later found out means Council Housing and Violent. Splendid. We've moved from Mississippi to London and all we have effectively done is swap hoodlums.

When we open the door of the place we now call home a blast of air came out that could do nothing but remind me of some very special places back in Dixie. It was the smell of trailer. A bit of explanation might be in order. You see, single wide mobile homes are built out of a material that gets its strength from a molecular bond that it forms with cigarette smoke. The resulting smell is noxious and unremitting, but it is the best defense a trailer has to a tornado. This smell was embedded in our lowly flat.

The apartment itself wasn't all that bad, but for all the trouble that the letting agency had put us to, they hadn't troubled themselves to clean it up (to many souls to collect for the devil I assume). That is what led to me finding it: the heirloom of the flat. I was shampooing a couch cushion when I found a little necklace with a little medallion that had Kibo engraved on one side, and on the other, Bushi.

This little artifact was surrounded by mystery, until Kathryn asked me what those burn marks on the floor next to the couch and bed were. Cylindrical melted carpet. hmmm. Next to a well worn couch cushion and where the bed side table ought to be. hmmm. "Crack pipe burns," I announced in my best Shelockian voice. Kathryn went to the Bathroom and was sick.

Kibo and Bushi were the star crossed lovers of Dartford. They were fed by their love of crack and love for each other and their hate for each other and by curry and by cigarettes and God knows what else. This was their home, and now it was ours. They leave big shoes to fill. Who could ever hope to amount to all that Kibo and Bushi did. The little medallion now hangs in our Kitchen as a testament to what you can become with a little stick-to-itiveness. It just goes to show that everywhere in England is historical, and through history we can find inspiration.