The man in the crawlspace, Crawlspace Kenneth, had started to sniffle and sob again, and it was hard for me to sleep again. "Man, it's really not that bad!" I called up from my bed, on my back, on the third wide-eyed night. "You know, your age, I slept on park benches. Park benches! Crawlspaces, I'd have killed for one." But it was the lonely nights - not the crawlspace, he'd kept telling me - that got him going. He never left the thing, and he didn't have a phone, and I was a claustrophobe, so he missed out on those introspective night-time conversations. And who could live without them?
The drama crescendoed over Labor Day weekend, while I spruced for a visit home, and Crawlspace Kenneth bawled and howled right above me. The bags under my eyes hung to the chipped linoleum, I kid you not, and I'd stopped with the reasoning-him-out-of-it. Suddenly I heard a rattling in the ducts, running up the wall and through the crawlspace region. "Kenneth? You all right?" I asked the ceiling. But he was occupied. A woman's voice, tinny with duct reverberation, was chatting him up through the metal. On her way to a family cookout, a real conversation fangirl, lost in my building but charmed to meet Kenneth, promising to return this way, I gathered. She called herself Airduct Alice.
12 December 2016