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After leaving La Mirada (aka The Shithole) I knew that I couldn’t leave it up to Lee to find the next apartment, so I did the apartment search. I located a small garden apartment with about thirty units surrounding a pool, a pretty cool on-site manager, and a 7 minutes work commute for me. I had an abnormally short commute for Phoenix. The move was a pain, but the new base of operations was great. It had a large kitchen and living room, decent sized bedrooms, and a tiny bathroom.

After a short amount of time we slowly got to know all of our neighbors. Social hours were between 7:00 and 9:00 as the sun was setting and everyone took turns soaking in the pool. Living in Phoenix the only time during the summer when you truly felt cooled off was after an hour of soaking in the pool.

There were other ways to get to know the neighbors, such as when the apartment manager’s husband set up a lawn sale with his partner to sell hand-crafted wooden furniture the made. An hour into any Saturday’s lawn sale would have 10 guys in lawn chairs solving the world’s problems while waiting for customers. They’d sell a piece or two, and a few people would commission them to make something, but it was mostly a social event.

We had two Italian women in the apartment, both from the NYC area. They took turns checking out us guys as we sat around the front lawn talking shit. At first they came out to flirt a little, but it escalated. Each time they would come around they would be wearing something a little more revealing. This kept up until one of the gals was showing off her shorts with a touch of camel tow, next the other had a skirt so short she proved she was commando. After they started to flash their boobs to cars the craftsmen started to close up the lawn sale before it got out of hand.

The Italian gal next door to me flashed her bush to a few of the guys in the complex (I missed it, and I’m kind of glad I missed it). The manager found out about the beaver-flash and called the police. She wasn’t about to tolerate that behavior, especially with children living in the complex. The police issued her a ticket for exposure, and the manager served her an eviction notice the next morning.

I saw the flasher working at a Taco Bell about a year later. Due to anti-crime housing statues no-one would, or could, rent to her, and she became homeless. She eventually started sleeping with guys for a place to stay. After her story, I threw the Taco Bell food away, and vowed to not eat there again.

Not all the neighbors where completely crazy. There was Fred. Fred and I became friends after talking about the mortgage industry. I was a loan officer and one of Fred’s many past occupations he was also a loan officer. Currently Fred was a tax consultant doing taxes for a bunch of people and a few businesses. I eventually let him do my taxes. I figured it they didn’t appear correct I would review them at H&R Block or something. Fred found lots of deductions for me, and I got one of my biggest refunds ever. My boss looked my return over and said it looked really good, and he wished he had done a better job with his taxes when he was getting started.

Everything was going great until our apartment manager was sent to another complex. Before she left I got to know her a little better. She was lonely after her husband left; so she was easy to strike up conversation with. She gave me her boss’s cell number in case the new manager couldn’t get things done (I called that number for everything I could think of). We sat around the pool on one of her last evenings and started throwing Mr. Bubble into the pool. After a stop at Wal-Mart we threw so much in, that the pool filter was making a mountain of suds.

After the cool manager left we got a new manager; another woman with husband and about 4 kids (in a one-bedroom unit). We all quickly found out they were Jesus Freaks, all her kids had biblical names starting with the letter “J” because Jesus started with a “J.” Her management style was to pray for a better outcome.

We had a drug dealer that lived a few blocks away, but worked out of an apartment at our complex. He would come by each day around noon and deal drugs until 8:00. One of their clients, a young strung-out girl stopped by to get her drugs and left naked, only to go to another apartment door and begin pounding on the door. The cops were called, and we all watched as she continued to bang on the door of a woman who lived alone with her kids. We were ready to jump to action if needed, but more than happy to watch. The dealers finally heard the commotion and grabbed the girl and started to head to the parking lot in back, not before we noticed one of them drop a hypodermic needle in the lawn.

The cops arrived and we told them the drug dealers went to the parking lot in back, and if they waited near the exit they could easily stop them. The cops walked (slow) after the dealers and naked chick. The druggies threw naked-chick into their car and drove off. We commented to the cops, they must not really want to serve, protect, or catch the bad guys. The responded by offering to arrest all of us if we didn’t get back into our apartments. In their defense, cops in Phoenix are woefully understaffed and underpaid. The city had billboards offering up to $27,500 for new officers. To wear a target on your back for under $30k – WTF!

About 10 minutes after the cops left, our manager got home from church (they were almost never at the complex). We collectively asked if she would do anything, or call someone about the drug-dealers and the naked-chick. She responded that she would go inside and pray for all of us.

I made flyers for prospective drug clients, pinpointing exactly which apartment they could buy their drugs, and they had a special on Meth that week. My hope was te extra attention would have him move operations away...


That night the cops were at my door, with some goofy looking guy. They asked me if I knew how goofy-guy ended up with a drug-flyer in his hand. I could only tell them I didn’t know how the flyer ended up in his hands (they asked the wrong question). The cops told me they were staking out the drug apartment for the past 2 months, from a vacant apartment next to mine. I asked them how many more months it would take to bust an obvious drug cartel. The drug dealers moved out of our apartment building within a week, due to the publicity, the cops were very unhappy! I ruined their bust, but our complex was again safe from the drug dealers. Despite all the efforts of local law enforcement and the Jesus Freak family I got rid of the drug dealers single-handedly.

I had a great run at that apartment, but the time to move drew near. They friendly atmosphere was disappearing, and my roommate moved in with his girlfriend. I could use a cheaper and smaller place. I moved to a slightly larger garden apartment complex surrounding a pool, with a small one-bedroom unit for me. I remembered the manager from previous apartment searching. He took great pride in the noise level and said I would have to be quiet. The place was insanely quiet.


He told me to listen, I said

“There was no noise.”

He said,

“That’s the way it’s gonna stay, can you live with that? If you can handle that, you can move in.”

The loudest thing was the managers cough. He’d cough all night, it sounded like he had black lung, it could have been from all the cigarettes. About six months after I moved in his cough was gone – so was the manager. The owners were in town, visiting from Vegas and looking for a new manager to replace the one that just died.


I told them,


"I know who would be perfect for the job."


I told them about Fred (you didn't forget about Fred did you), then I went back to the old apartment, and told Fred about the old owner wanting a new manager, he came right over, and after a 90 minute interview he was our new apartment manager.

Fred and I were looking for some extra cash during the summer of 2000. Business slowed for me in the summer, and working for the Census sounded like fun. However, the 2000 Phoenix Census office was run by young Hispanic gal with no qualifications or any concern for getting an accurate count of people. I was offered a job to count people on the far end of the valley, but the wage wasn’t worth the gas and mileage on my car. Fred was offered and took the job of counting nearby people, but when he started they wouldn’t let him out of the office. Fred gave me a daily download of the shenanigans that passed for the 2000 Census.


He processed numbers that made no sense, vacant lots with thousands of people and empty neighborhoods full of housing. The numbers were completely made up. They wanted better representation in government, so Caucasian neighborhoods were grossly undercounted, while Hispanic neighborhoods were grossly over-counted. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Arizona portion of the Census was off by as much as 20% from what Fred told me. A month or two into the census gig Fred saw how poor of a job the Census was doing, and he walked out.

This was the second cool apartment in a row for me. Fred was a part of it, giving me a second parking space for my fiancée (later to become my wife). I had one funny neighbor upstairs. He was a skinny pasty white guy, with an Asian wife. She was loud during sex, comically loud. He would barely acknowledge us around the building, she would flat out ignore us and turn the other way. One morning my fiancée saw out of our kitchen window how her followed him to the car to send him off with a kiss, and a dance. She’d start waving at the car and she'd continue as he’d back out of his parking stall. She’d continue waving and screaming as he pulled out of the parking lot. Then with both arms flailing and yelling “I Love You” while chasing the car down the street. This became daily entertainment for us to watch.

Fred let me know he’d be gone for a week. He was heading to Seattle to see family. Fred was a typical dirty old man, so when he debriefed me about the trip he told me about the 19-year old sitting next to him on the plane. He told me how they began to talk about sex, and how she told him she had never had an orgasm. Fred explained to me, how he told her he could make any female climax anywhere. He then explained how through digital manipulation at 20,000 feet she had her first. This was a typical Fred story, you didn't believe a word but it was entertaining.

I hadn’t heard from Fred in a while. Then I saw the apartment owners. They only stopped in a few times a year, but they remembered how I helped them find Fred. I talked to them and they told me Fred had died earlier in the week. I was in complete shock. They asked if I knew anybody else who could manage their apartment.

Fred was a great guy; he’s gone but not forgotten. He even left with a story that’ll put a smile on your face. This was the story his son told me at his wake, and confirmed by another old friend of Fred’s (who became out next complex manager). Fred had been doing some accounting and bookkeeping for a friend of his who ran a small local adult entertainment dance club (strippers). He stopped in with paperwork to have signed, and the owner was busy at that moment, so he set Fred up with a cocktail, a cigar, and a dancer. Fred complied, how many straight guys wouldn’t? The story was Fred expired with a glass of Scotch in one hand, a Cuban cigar in the other, and a large pair of surgically enhanced boobies in his face. He had a massive stroke and was gone in an instant. For a funny old self-proclaimed dirty-old-man, was there a better way to go?

I miss Fred.