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The Shining

November 10th, 2010

“It’s his bedtime, he gets a little cranky around bedtime, don’t you, love?” Ronald cooed at the large, colourful parrot perched on his left arm. This large bird had just scared me half to death by flapping his bright red and blue wings and squawking at me.

Dana and I were standing in the hallway of the sublet room we’d rented for my visit to Los Angeles. Dana had found the rental on Craigslist and the photos of it had looked nice, the West Hollywood neighborhood was a great location, so he gave me the info for Michelle and I spoke to her on the phone and booked the room. The evening I arrived, Dana picked me up at LAX and we drove to the house to drop off our things, pick up the keys and then go out and get some drinks.

When we arrived we were escorted into the house and my first impression was a bit of dismay. The house was bathed with a thick stench of cigarette smoke, the carpet was worn and stained and while the owners seemed to do their best at keeping the place clean, it was clearly a bit filthy. They also seemed to be pack rats.

Michelle showed Dana and I round the house and kept eagerly inquiring if everything were ok. “Are you ok with this? Is this ok for you? Is everything up to your standards?” (Uh, no, but thanks for asking!) She appeared to be a bit frenetic and frazzled. After the tour of the house, Ronald, her husband, appeared with the parrot perched on his arm. They both cooed at the parrot as though it was an actual child, and Ronald mentioned something about putting the parrot to bed, which seemed a bit odd to me. (Really? Parrots have bedtimes now?)

Ronald tried to get the parrot to speak, but the parrot did not comply. He then told us an anecdotal story about how the parrot once flew out of the house and got stuck on a neighbouring roof. He yelled out “Danger! Danger” until he was rescued.

“Yes, and sometimes when we are fighting, the parrot yells ‘Danger! Danger!’ too,” Michelle interjected. My eyes found Dana’s and we shared a private moment of horror – too much information, lady! I knew he felt the same way I did – we both wanted to get the heck out of there, fast!

As we were talking in the hallway, I noticed a very quiet, sullen looking man sitting at the kitchen table in the other room. This man was never introduced to us and just sat there silently staring at us, observing our interactions with the owners. Creepy.

After Dana and I had put our things in the room and shut the door, I inquired about a key. Michelle said that she wouldn’t be giving us a key to the house as we were only staying a few days, but instead informed us that someone would always be at the house and gave us the house landline number, Ronald’s mobile number, and then told us about her personal assistant, ‘Nemo’ – and gave us his mobile number. I assumed the creepy guy sitting at the kitchen table was Nemo.

Interesting. Dana and I took our leave and as soon as we got in the car we collapsed into a fit of uneasy laughter. We shared our individual observations and concerns and Dana said the home reminded him of the film The Shining. So thereafter, we referred to the rental as ‘The Shining’.

We made sure to spend as little time there as possible, mostly only sleeping there and showering in the mornings. We noticed that the bed (which Michelle proudly touted to me on the phone as being a “lovely four poster bed, perfect for a couple”) actually appeared to be some piece of a BDSM setup – it did indeed have four posters, but they were made from steel, and there was a steel rod going across the top middle. There were telltale little hooks on each corner as well as across the top middle rod. I’ve been around the block enough to realize that this bed was definitely used for (ahem) tying people up.

Another discovery worthy of note was the choice of books on the shelf in the room. There were a few books from Alcohol Anonymous as well as Narcotics Anonymous (!!!) and quite a few thick books on fetish lifestyle, etc. Interesting choice of books to leave in a room you’d rent out to travelers, eh?

Despite The Shining, Dana and I had a great time in warm, sunny Los Angeles! And, to look on the bright side, sometimes these situations make for great stories.

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