It couldn’t last forever.
My heart sank as I heard the muffled raised voices and ultimately a muffled conversation. I heard bits and pieces.
Two men, down on their luck at each other’s throats.
The two men in the house who’d taught me two different ways to be a man.
As if times weren’t hard enough.
“I’m losing my job…” said Gilbert.
“It’s nothing personal…”shouted Gilbert.
“Let me ask you this, did you tell Brian the same thing…” asked Ibrahim, sometime in the conversation.
“Me and Brian, he’s going to write me a letter, I’m going to clean up the backyard, I’m going to rent out the place,” said Gilbert.
Ibrahim, unemployed and attempting to launch his clothing line was trying to reason with Gilbert.
“This is not negotiable, I’d already made up my mind” said Gilbert.
Sometime later near the heat of what had turned into an argument, an exasperated, increasingly impatient Gilbert declared “It’s my house and I can do whatever I want.”
Gilbert just finished giving Ibrahim 60 days notice.
This had been coming since I got here.
Gilbert and Ibrahim had a mild disrespect for each other since I’d been here.
I was usually the vehicle to whom they validated their observations of each other. I can’t say I was the good guy all the time; with Ibrahim, I had to talk about how Gilbert was all over the place and never got anything done. When talking with Gilbert, I had to talk about how cheap Ibrahim was.
I didn’t try to talk about how cool Gilbert was with Ibrahim because I felt he wouldn’t want to hear it. Ibrahim talked about how at first he tried to help Gilbert out, but ultimately reasoned that Gilbert couldn’t help himself. He once helped him out with his resume. He once pulled out weeds for him. He once tried to get him jobs. But he gave up on him after a while.
I was never trying to show Ibrahim up. I just never had the balls to say to him that Gilbert needed more help. Maybe I just have a bit of a Messiah complex.
However, I would try to say something good about Ibrahim to Gilbert.
Gilbert had wanted to kick out Ibrahim since I’d arrived here. Reasons? He was cheap, didn’t contribute much to the house. While he would keep the bathroom clean, he would not pitch in to buy soap. Gilbert seemed to dislike him strongly on that basis.
Now Gilbert’s idea was to clear out his room, the largest room in the house, and rent it out. It would be the luxury bedroom. He would take on my room in front of the kitchen, and would fix his room, and rent it out for $650, netting more than an extra $150 from the status quo. Meanwhile, I would move to an evicted Ibrahim’s room.
I never thought this kicking out of Ibrahim was warranted because Ibrahim, beyond his NFL running back exterior is a nice, surprisingly sensitive man. I think half of the dislike for him is because of his size and the perception he exudes of a confident, impersonal, indifferent man.
A panicked Gilbert lamented the fact that he wasn’t close enough to social security and the ever-close reality of declaring bankruptcy.