I haven’t mentioned Elle before, because thinking of her makes me sad. Elle and I were extremely close friends while we were in college – we texted constantly and hung out daily. We eventually formed a foursome of best friends with Smokey the Bear and her best friend, Boss. Especially the last year of school, we all hung out together so often that I have very few memories without at least one of them featured in it. Smokey and Boss are still in school, but Elle and I graduated. Moving away was incredibly hard, but more so because two weeks after I moved Elle, Smokey and Boss moved into an apartment together. I moved back to Hometown, where most of my friends have moved away and I have lingering bad memories, and my best friends all formed a club living together.

I admit, I didn’t do all that I could have to stay in touch. Boss has a steady boyfriend (of 3 years) and a night job while Elle recently met a guy at work and they formed a relationship, so I mostly contacted Smokey. It’s easier for single friends to keep in contact. We did all of the usual things that long distance friends do – three or four times they’ve come to visit for the weekend and five or six times I’ve crashed on their couch for a few days. It’s not exactly the same, but really nice to see them. Maybe that’s how I didn’t hear about everything that went on until it was already over.

I would have liked to live with them, but in a large apartment. The one they got was a one bedroom. For three girls. I hope you can see where this is going.

Smokey, the owner of this lease, took over the one (small) bedroom for herself, Elle sectioned off a back area of the living room with discarded closet doors and drapes and Boss shoved a bed behind the couch. I was pretty surprised with how happy and harmonious they seemed there. It probably helped that Boss and Elle would frequently spend the night at their boyfriends’ places.

Apparently, as time went on, things started to fall apart. Elle is a pretty messy person while both Boss and Smokey are not. They started to complain that she would leave a mess and then go stay at her boyfriend’s place for days and days – not letting them know she was ok. She complained that they would go into her room all of the time to ‘clean’ which invaded her privacy and that it wasn’t their business if and when she stayed at her boyfriends. The next thing I heard, Elle had abruptly moved out and cut off all contact. I went to visit for their St. Patrick’s Day Blow Out and learned the rest of the tale. Note that Elle has not returned my calls or texts, so I only have Smokey & Boss’ side of the story.

According to them, since Elle started dating her latest beau she has been withdrawn and uncommunicative. There was a major fight between Boss and Elle a few months ago (Boss felt that Elle should inform her if Elle’s boyfriend was staying the night, since they’re technically sharing a ‘room’ and the wall between Elle’s space and Boss’ doesn’t block out a lot of sound). Elle did tell me that while she understood Boss’ side, she was upset about the way that Boss confronted her. Elle then started spending weeks at a time at her Significant Other’s house without coming home.

As time went on, things become more and more strained. Eventually, Smokey came home early from work to find Elle in her room surrounded by trash bags. Elle claimed she was packing up some old clothing to donate but when Smokey spied some things she knew were Elle’s favorite clothing, Elle confessed that she was packing to move. I’ve never heard of anyone sneak-moving-out before. Elle gave a move-out date halfway through the month. Smokey told her that she would let Elle out of the rest of the lease, but she had to pay the full month’s rent, it would not be prorated from her move date. Elle disagreed. Elle did not sign the lease, only Smokey did and she didn’t sign any contract or renter agreement. So she said she didn’t owe any money at all. Obviously, I’m trying to stay neutral but I have to admit that it is a legal gray area since all they have is their differing opinions on a verbal agreement.

After that day, they didn’t see Elle again for a few weeks. They argued about if and how much Elle might owe them and they started texting her every few days asking when she would be paying them, to no response. They live by Generic College – which like any college has difficult parking. There’s almost never any spot to park near the school and Elle had the clicker to their only parking spot. Boss wanted to have it, since Elle hadn’t paid the rent for that month and was now saying she wouldn’t pay for the next. Boss drove over 30 minutes to pick up the clicker from Elle’s mother.

Their lease stated that if anyone moved out, the remaining people would have to change the locks at their own expense. Smokey and Boss went out and bought new locks but did not install them. Elle found out and accused them of locking her out. I’m not sure (as an independent observer) if she was misinformed or overreacting. I withold judgement on this.

Suddenly, Elle’s step-mother started to Facebook message Smokey about the rent. She said that since they had changed the locks, Elle did not have to pay any rent or back rent. After telling her to mind her own damn business, Smokey was livid. I was unaware of what was going on, and happened to call Elle to catch up. She mentioned none of this and only told me about how exicited she was about her new, better paying job. Elle works for her step-mother at their family restaurant, she met her boyfriend because they were both cooks there. I knew through Boss that Elle’s stepmother had been upset when Elle’s beau left without much notice for a better job. He secured her a job at the same place and she confided that she didn’t intend on telling her step-mother because she didn’t want to deal with the drama she would have if she gave 2 weeks notice. I told her that if she did that, her stepmom would be so pissed, she’d probably cut Elle off for a few months. Elle didn’t seem fazed by that insight.

A few days later, Smokey came back from work to find her refigerator missing and all of Elle’s stuff gone. According to Smokey, and unverified by Elle, they had agreed that Elle would leave the fridge that they bought together and the difference would go toward Elle’s remaining balance of rent. Elle paid 80% of the fridge and Smokey paid 20%. That 80% would come out of the back rent. Elle supposedly said that since she didn’t owe anything for rent, she wasn’t going to allow herself to not get paid for the fridge. Smokey and Boss documented the damage she left when she was moving the fridge.

Smokey and Boss think it’s her boyfriend’s fault. They claim he is trying to distance her from all of her friends. She does have a history of abusive boyfriends. To date, I have not received any texts/calls back from her, which concerns me. She moved in with her boyfriend, she works at a new job with her boyfriend, her family isn’t speaking to her because of how precipicly she quit her job, her friends are angry with her and the only friend not angry with her (me) is hours away and I haven’t heard anything from her in a while…I’m not sure if he’s behind it or what is driving this change of character but it does seem odd.

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