Cold Comfort


††††††††††† Can you blame me?

††††††††††† It ainít no trivial thing what that landlord done.

††††††††††† You would have been peeved enough to kill the SOB, too.

††††††††††† Sure, I know this is a rough neighborhood and that people get even for small slights.

††††††††††† And maybe I should have expected him to get even with me.

††††††††††† Maybe my big mistake was not moving out the minute I heard my wife was pregnant again.

††††††††††† I should have gotten rooms on the other side of town.

††††††††††† But I figured even the landlord couldnít be as cruel as all that, and that even he would take a new born into account and do something more than his usual nothing.

††††††††††† Any day of the week you could count on our building having a broken pipe or stuffed up toilet.

††††††††††† And so maybe I had no business bringing home my kid from the hospital to that. Buy I figured I paid my rent on time every month so he ought to do as much to make the place a good home for my kid as I did.

††††††††††† So when the landlord did nothing. I complained about it.

††††††††††† When complaining didnít move him, I went to the city.

††††††††††† I thought with winter coming, we should at least get some more heat.

††††††††††† And city being the city, they came down, stomped all over the landlord with threats and fines, †told him to fix this and fix that, and he fixed them all right. After all, heís got dozens of other buildings he didnít need to have the city to look at if he didnít do what he was told here.

††††††††††† The landlord might be mean, but he ainít stupid.

††††††††††† I guess I should have expected him to get even. But I never thought he would wait until the coldest day of the year to do it.

††††††††††† Of course later he told everybody that the boiler broke down, but we all knew better. The thing worked fine the day before and the day after. Just not on the coldest day of the year.

††††††††††† I came home to find my wife crying and my baby blue.

Maybe he even felt a little guilty when the infant died.

And maybe he didnít known kids straight out of the delivery room canít take cold the way they can later.

††††††††††† But I wasnít thinking straight at the time.

††††††††††† I went to the police. They said they felt sorry for me, but couldnít charge the man for the heat failing.

††††††††††† Things like this happened in old buildings they said.

††††††††††† They werenít nearly so understanding when they came to my house a week later to arrest me for shooting the SOB.

††††††††††† You canít just go killing people, they said, and dragged me down to jail.

††††††††††† Since then Iíve had a lot of time to think, figuring on how I might have done things different.

††††††††††† Moved out before my baby got born, found a better flat to bring her home from the hospital, too.

††††††††††† Yet for all my thinking and for all the court said about me going to death row, I never once regretted shooting that SOB Ė even if it was only cold comfort.


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