A Hot Time in the Old Town

"I always let them off the hook. But eventually someone took the basement in spite of its recent history--or maybe because of it, who knows?

"And life went on. Tenants came and went without much incident--in fact, I never did serve a single eviction notice. The old fossils in the neighborhood went to their rewards, and some of their houses were bought by enterprising young folks. Pretty soon I wasn't the only landlord on the block. And as time passed and memories faded, my basement apartment became less and less of a liability.

"Of course, I probably don't have to tell you, it was one hell of a long time before a black face showed itself at my door again. Who could blame them?"

"How long did it take?" I asked. "You know, until you had another black tenant?"

"Oh, ten years at least. At the time, the basement was occupied by some college kid. Troy something, I think. I'm not sure--except for those first three, most of the names just kind of blur together. I don't know how the kid paid his rent or stayed in school--I could count on one hand the number of times I saw him leave the house. The first floor I rented to this young married couple. I wouldn't have thought two people would have fit in there comfortably, even sharing a bed, but they didn't seem to mind. God bless young people.

"Of course, I'm the last guy who ought to be giving advice to married people anyway. I never did tie the knot.

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