The truth is almost always infinitely stranger than fiction. For instance, I remember seeing one of the latest David Lynch films in the theatre, getting freaked out and going home, and while I lay in bed and struggled with my newfound inability to sleep, thinking about how the movie made no sense. Then I thought about my own family and friends and the stories we tell about our everyday lives and realized something that brought me great comfort, and, eventually rest. That freak Lynch has nothing, and I mean nothing, on some of the bizarre stories from real life.
It just so happens that some of the stories from Hardin Apartments are even stranger and more unsettling than most. Take, for instance, the rogue tarantula found in the apartment pantry one day by Jason Solley. Sure, this is weird, but that sort of thing happens, I guess. The thing is, this particular spider happened to be pregnant, which is both weird and stomach-churningly disgusting. Then consider that pregnant creatures are usually volatile and pissy, and you have a very unique situation on your hands.
As the story goes, Jason called animal control to ask if he should hit the angry arachnid with a broom to kill it and rid the apartment of its presence.
“No, don’t do that,” they warned him over the phone. “If that thing is pregnant and you hit it with a broom, its babies will go everywhere. Whatever you do, don’t hit it.”
Like I said, the truth is stranger than fiction. One nice thing about two people living together for seven years is that, at the end, they have lots of great and interesting stories. Here are two of our favorites.
1. The Raccoon Cometh!
Jeremy needed to go to the bathroom. Bad.
This is not an out of the ordinary feeling. We all have it every once in awhile, and Jeremy more than most people. No big deal, right? He shuffled into the bathroom, now devoid of the mysterious second toilet, and settled in to take care of some business.
Not long after he got comfortable he began to hear a peculiar noise.
Scratch scratch scratch...
He looked around him and wondered what on Earth it could be. Rats, maybe? That must be it. In the past they had had rats in the apartment, but this noise… it sounded different. Heavier. There was more density to this scratching. Perhaps it was pregnant? Like possibly a large mama rat. Should he hit it?
Scratch scratch scratch…
Now he is starting to get nervous. The noise is getting more intense and frantic. Perhaps this is a mama rat that found it’s way into some nuclear waste (which could very well be in the walls of this building…) and has grown disproportionately enormous and mean. Jeremy starts to sweat, and this time, it has nothing to do with his intended business.
SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH...
Holy cow, is that sheetrock falling from the ceiling?
SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH…
It’s at this moment, with the sound getting louder and the ceiling starting to fall to the floor, that Jeremy realizes the gravity of the situation. Something is about to be in the bathroom with him, something angry and large, with red flaming eyes and foam at the mouth, something that will soon be between him and the door, and there is not a dang thing he can do about it. He is not in a position to get up, to defend himself against the incoming intruder. Dear God, if he can only finish… He must escape, but how?
A small hole appears in the ceiling, and for a second, things grow silent. He breaths out a small sigh of relief.
And then suddenly a larger-than-nuclear-rat sized varmint arm reaches through and begins flailing about in a confusing, feverish manner. It is covered in brown fur, thinning and darkening toward the paw, with little outstretched black fingers climaxing in varmint claw tips. And as the flailing arm is groping furiously for something to support the weight of whatever is left of itself in the ceiling...Jeremy makes a run for it.
Apparently, it is bad to have a family of raccoons living in your walls. At least that’s what the landlord concludes. The gentleman who usually doesn’t say much besides “where’s my rent,” pokes around the building and finds the hole where the ’coons entered and took up residence. Being woodland creatures, they don’t pay rent, therefore, they cannot stay. They must go.
Even though it’s the dead middle of 150-degree summertime, he throws large traps and enormous bags of poison into the hole and plugs it up tight so that nothing can get in or out. Jason and Jeremy leave town for a stint of summer camps leading music. Out of sight, out of mind.
Upon their return a month later, they are met with the most horrifying of smells you can imagine. It is an olfactory bomb detonating in the nasal cavity leaving a thick glaze of death sliding down the back of the throat. It is the dreadful taste of decay. And there are exactly one million overgrown, slow moving flies, each the size and weight of a large jellybean, buzzing around their place, making the air vibrate hazy and black.
Tell me… which is worse? An uninvited raccoon disturbing you at the most private of moments, or the stench of its demise and subsequent fly infestation in your bedroom in the heat of the Texas summer?
2. Before It Was Cool.
In the past, Jason was fat. He weighed about 240, which, for his frame, was big. We have seen pictures. Its true. These days that period in his life is known affectionately as “fat Solley.” Fat Solley ate fast food for every meal and drank a liter of Big Red soda every day.
It was at a summer camp where he and Jeremy were leading the music for the week that they heard about this miracle diet. One where you could eat all the meat, cheese, and butter that you’re heart desired, not exercise at all, and you would lose weight. Lots and lots and lots of weight. Jason was sold. He roped Jeremy into the deal, because, lets be honest, its more fun to do something like this when you have a partner in crime.
They bought a small grill to sit on the front porch of their apartment. They bought a load of meat. And then they began the Atkins diet. Stories from this little adventure abound, one of the best being the time they tried to play a round of golf and couldn’t muster the energy to go more than two holes. Apparently when the pounds are dropping like so many flies, energy to complete tasks more basic than watching daytime television takes a backseat.
I met them at the end of this summer, towards the end of their time on Atkins, about six years ago. This was way before Atkins was cool. I was appalled to hear that they were eating nothing but steaks and butter, and losing massive amounts of weight by doing so. It just didn’t seem right. By then they both were nothing but skin and bones, short of breath, with eyes sunken in. There was no possible way that this could have been healthy.
I wasn’t the only one that had become worried. At this time the Crowders still lived next door, and would shoot disapproving glances while scurrying in and out of their house as the roommates stood hovering over a miniature grill at all hours of the day, cooking one Wal-Mart steak after another.
One afternoon, during one of these daily cookouts, Jason, with basting brush in hand, heard a loud noise, the distinct sound of metal crashing into metal. Almost immediately afterwards he observed his own car moving down the road, propelled by the laws of physics, adorned with a new ruined back end. With it being quite obviously the other driver’s fault, as Jason’s vehicle had been sitting innocently on the side of the road unoccupied, with its meat-reeking-driver clearly engaged in other non-driving activity a mere few feet away, insurance was to provide him a rental car for the duration of time his own newly crushed ride was to be in the shop.
This, in itself, is not extraordinary. But Solley has amazing luck, and there was, of course, a small oversight on the part of the rental agency. Unlike most rental agreements, this one had no limit on the amount of miles he could put on it. Think about it; unlimited miles on a car that you don’t own and don’t have to worry about. When faced with a situation like this, this new freedom placed in his lap, he did the only thing a person could possibly do. In fact, it was his civic duty to do this thing: he grabbed his roommate and drove to Seattle.
Before it was cool, of course.
As I stated before, these are just two of the stories. There are plenty more. Like the one where the two roommates walked to the gas station across the street and spent their last dollar, figuratively, their last dollar on a lottery ticket. A lottery ticket that lost. Solley is lucky, but not thatlucky.
Or how about the summer that they subsisted only on hotdogs?
Or what about the time… Well, you get the picture.
The truth is always, always, stranger than fiction.