the basement was more or less what he had expected. a bare cement floor and brick walls enclosed a hot water heater, a gigantic furnace. an old workbench that hadn’t been used in years, piles of boxes that god only knew what was in them, and a toilet next to a huge cast-iron sink in one corner. he turned on the taps and water came. it was brown but at least he had water. the toilet actually flushed, too.
he piled all the boxes up next to the furnace to make a sort of wall so he could pretend it wasn’t there, swept out the open space that removing the boxes had made, and moved what was left of his stuff down from the third floor. to his surprise he discovered that with the boxes out of the way, even discounting all the room the furnace took up, he had more floor-space than his last apartment. the basement felt roomy by comparison. there was some good in every evil, he thought.
his bed long since sold, he scrounged around in the department store warehouse until he found several large squares of packing-foam, six inches thick. over the course of a week, he hauled them home on the bus one at a time and made himself what turned out to be one of the most comfortable beds he had ever slept in. it was, he reflected every night as he lay there drifting off, like sleeping on a cloud.
he turned the workbench into his kitchen: cooler underneath, a few dishes and pans lined up on top to the far right, toaster-oven and hotplates and a basket of silverware to the far left. the honorable center space between them was occupied by his precious deserts in endless rotation: today a blueberry pie, tomorrow a box of Congo bars, the day after a chocolate roll-cake with marshmallow filling. on the tool shelf above the bench, he put his canned goods, his cereal, and his sugar and instant coffee. it wasn’t exactly home but it could have been a lot worse.