The Perils of Louella:

Chapter 172: Louella Talks To the Judge

by A.C. Cherbonnier
     THE HOUSING COURT JUDGE peered over her bifocals at Louella.
     "So from what I understand, Miss Priz-, uh, Prizbeelewski-am I saying that right?"
     "Close enough, your honor." I sure hope my deodorant's working, she thought. It must be 90 degrees in here! We've been waiting two hours!
     "Well, in this case you're saying your tenant owes you three months' rent and won't vacate."
     "That's right, your honor."
     "And there's no formal lease?"
     "No, your honor. He's my sister's son, so I-"
     The judge lifted her hand to stop the recital and turned to Louella's nephew, Mason, and his girlfriend Angie, who was holding their new baby girl. "Do you dispute this, Mr. Foster?"
     "Well, your honor, she's not saying anything about the rats."
     "The rats!?" Louella blurted.
     Again, the judge lifted her hand for silence. "Rats? Tell me more."
     "Well, the back yard is cement and all," said Mason, warming to his narrative. "But there use ta be a rose garden or something back 'ere, and there's rats coming in an' outta the dirt, and it's got us scared for the little one here. I told her, but she ain't done nothin'."
     Louella was dying to reply but didn't want to risk another lifted hand. She waited her turn. The liar! she fumed.
     "And there's one more thing," said Mason. "She never said I'd like, have to pay the rent every month. It was, like, you pay me the $250 if you got it, ya know? And things are tough right now, what with the baby and all, and the BG&E, which costs more than we thought and we've gotta have that, and my work's been slow-"
     Wearily, the judge turned back to Louella. "What do you have to say to these things?"
     "Your honor, I've never heard a word about rats from them, and my parents live right next door, and I'm sure I would have heard about it-"
     "I get the picture," the judge cut in. "You're renting the place to them basically as a favor, at a below-market price, am I right?"
     "Yes, your honor."
     "Do you disagree?" the judge asked Mason.
     "No, I guess that's right, ma'am. It's just that-"
     "Okay. Well, here's what's going to happen. Mr. Foster, you owe your aunt $750. That's a contract matter between you two; we don't collect the money here. But you do owe that money, rats or no rats. Is that clear?"
     "Yes, ma'am. I didn't realize we owed so much."
     "Well, do the math," the judge snapped. "You're an adult now, you have to keep track."
     To Louella, she asked, "Do you want to evict these people?"
     Louella cleared her throat. "Yes, your honor. I can't afford to give them free housing."
     Mason glared at her.
     "You'll need an Order of Restitution," said the judge, "and after that you'll have to arrange for a Constable from the Sheriff's office to put them out. The whole process takes about four weeks or so. But that's only after the inspection I'm going to require for those rats."
     "But your honor-"

- TO BE CONTINUED -

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This story was published on May 6, 1998.