Monday, July 04, 2005

Nightmare on Orchard Street:

Mary said I was the 17th person to arrive. Shortly after, a man banged up the stairs, carrying a laundry basket of shoes. He was the 18th. We had identical subleases, which clearly stated how much we had given ($2,850) to Rita—who had never lived in this apartment.

Twenty people showed up that day and 13 more throughout the course of the week. We had all responded to the same uninformative Craigslist posting: "STUDIO APT TO RENT LOWER EAST SIDE MANHATTAN—BELOW HOUSTON." Mary was not particularly helpful or hostile, but explained the situation—"There's been a fraud," she said—then sent us to the police station. She had been friends with Rita and lent her a spare set of keys months before. While Mary was at work, oblivious, Rita let herself into the apartment and gave us all tours. She flitted about the room, opening cabinets and bragging about closet space.

10:56 AM