Some International Freeloaders have been living in my Room

This appeared in Vice a couple of days ago. It got a bit of heavy editing, so I’ve chosen to put up the unedited version here. I don’t know, the editing sped the piece up and cut the bullshit, but the poor, made-up, freeloaders didn’t deserve to be called Bastards.

The photo is courtesy of the inimitable

Room Raiders

While I was away recently, my neighbour sublet my place to backpackers. I asked him to, he wasn’t being a complete gypsy. I was gone for five weeks and in that time he got four different people to take my apartment. Each one stayed around a week. I felt a little violated on my return. What had they done in there? Maybe they’d tried my clothes on, played my guitar, flicked through my dream journal? Who knows, but maybe they’d done things in my home that I would never ever get the opportunity or the balls to do.

All I had were their names but I was curious to find out more about these globe-trotting freeloaders. Luckily for me, they were messy and they left junk lying all around the place. Like a greedy palaeontologist, I assembled these abandoned clues and assigned them to the different lodgers and came up with accurate character profiles. It wasn’t easy and admittedly, racism played a massive part in each evaluation. But in the end, I feel a got a little closer to each one of them, even if we never met.


The condom is none other than KT’s. KT must be a yank. No other country in the whole world is happy to have a name carrying centuries of tradition and precedent butchered into a pair of gauche letters. The condom’s hers because Americans have a preternatural fear of infection whenever they leave home. They treat a European trip like a trek across the Darien Gap but with good Internet. KT has no doubt been warned about the dangers of hooking up with a native European. Some of them aren’t circumcised her sisters will have confessed to her, and some don’t even wax their testicles, she’ll have read on Wiki. This condom has more security than an airport. Even if your nob end grew spikes and saws it would not compromise the material. It’s as safe as separate rooms. But still KT held firm and didn’t use it. KT was either saving herself for the boys back home or she’s blessed with a face as aesthetically pleasing as her name. Oh and the note’s hers too. Well, that was obvious, wasn’t it? But the snacks were gone and that leads us on to Dave.


Was probably a Brit. I’m basing that on his name, but everything else after this makes sense if we all follow this presumption. So Dave’s British and then he was most likely the owner of the Rizla and his ownership of the Rizla was almost definitely the reason my snacks from KT were nowhere to be seen.  I had my suspicions that the photo was his too. Not of him, no, but maybe given to him. The guy in the picture is in a suit. Now lets not stick a pipe in my mouth and call me ‘Sherlock’ yet, but would someone coming to Berlin and renting a really cheap room in an area of town known more for its punks than its executives be taking photos of themselves in a suit? My guess is that Dave, lovely chap that he may well be, was off scoring weed when this nice guy in the suit came along to tell him about the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ who forgives the sinners, including the weed smokers. He then gave him some literature with his photo attached. Dave read the Holy Text. It hit him like a train. He threw the rest of the Rizla into the bin and decided to follow Jesus. He took the text but left the photo behind because, while religion might be powerful enough to make a person discount science and history, it will not make an ugly German passport picture anything other than that.


Now the only Nadas I’ve ever met have been Muslim, either from Turkey or Morocco. I think Nada was reading the Blackwater book as it’s a book about how the rest of the world are giving Muslims a hard time. The sleeve describes it as‘explosive’ and calls the author a ‘one-man truth squad’.I tried reading the book but the opening page mentions the Navy SEALs three times and that got me thinking of Under Siege, and then that got me thinking about Erika Eleniak and then well, I wasn’t really thinking about anything else all day. I think Nada is probably a young, lifeguard Muslim chick backpacking around the beaches of Europe. Of all the four of them I think I’d have been happiest to have arrived home and found her still tucked up in my bed, in her Baywatch gear.


Now I knew Francesco was Italian, because my neighbour told me. And maybe that necklace had something to do with him too. It’s the Virgin Mary, and if there’s one thing Italian men like more than touching their balls, it’s virgins. Apart from that I got nothing else on Francesco, except he was the last person to stay and he very kindly made the bed, opened the windows and left my post in a little fort on the table.


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