In the summer of 1997, my wife and I moved to an apartment complex in south Austin, near the intersection of Oltorf and Congress. The complex occupied an entire city block’s worth of living and parking space, and it was one of the last intersections left in south Austin that was pedestrian-friendly and surrounded by small businesses that supported the local neighborhood.
The apartment complex looked clean. We’d first met the manager and her husband at another property where I’d lived for several years. We signed the lease agreement and moved in.
The owners, George and Pat, had co-owned other properties. Pat was a horse-faced Irish-American who always looked like he desperately needed a drink. I’d heard that he was a Vietnam veteran, and judging by his constantly simmering anger, I was prepared to keep an eye on Pat and distance myself from him whenever I could manage it. George enjoyed lying to people, claiming that he’d built his company from the ground up. In fact, I knew that he was born with a silver spoon up his ass and had been living on family money all of his life. They made a lot of it, and they always let you know in so many subtle ways.
Nevermind the well-kept grass and the stripped-down bones of its late-seventies structures. Modernest living at Sunnymeade Apartments was like leasing a suite of rooms in a damp dungeon. The manager and her husband, who responded to every beck and call from the owners, and the only thing that saved us from living grim and unhappy lives there was our collective abilities to view the entire operation with grace and humour. The rent was reasonable, and neither my wife nor I intended to leave anytime soon. Apartment buildings can’t tell stories, but human beings can, and as the reader will discover, the stories will flow. Be patient, dear reader, and I’ll do my best to entertain you.