And then the junkies moved in: My apartment burnt down, part two

Written by Nathan Jolly on 5th July, 2018
And then the junkies moved in: My apartment burnt down, part two

When I walked into my burnt apartment a week after the fire, there was a used needle and a tin of Milo sitting on my bed. Neither of these things were mine. Milo, after all, is a disgusting habit.

The day after the fire we were allowed in for a few minutes in order to grab a few clothes and necessities – enough to fill a suitcase. At that stage there were a few dripping faultlines in the ceiling, one of the corner eaves had been displaced, and the floor was muddy and trampled by firemen and police – but everything was relatively undisturbed.

PART ONE: So, this morning my apartment burnt down…

It had been a pain to gain access again, as the building had been condemned, and insurance agencies make a living out of mitigating risk, and instilling fear. The idea of my items safety entombed in a building that I couldn’t gain access to caused me to have a twelve-hour panic attack over the weekend: we visited the building, now caged in steel and warning signs, and I manically climbed the fence ready to leap in, sans-plan, before my girlfriend calmly explained how terrible an idea this was. So I waited.

The second time we entered, things were a lot messier. The floor was a nest of records, books, and clothes.


It was a broken, rather nice Corelle bowl near the door — which I also definitely didn’t own — that made me realise someone had been living in there. There were other weird items in my house, too, which suggested the junkies had looted all the other burned-out apartments, decided mine was the most livable, and settled in for a few nights with their treasures, their heroin, and their Milo. I get it; it was still a pretty cozy place, as far as burned out apartments go.

They were respectful to a degree; they only ransacked drawers, cupboards, places people might hide money, drugs, or jewellery. After the initial rush, they seemed to leave the place relatively unharmed. Books were left neatly in shelves or stacks, photos and DVD collections remained calm.

They stole a bunch of rare seven inches though, which suggests that at least they were cool junkies. Come to think of it, they only took the good guitars too, leaving a few cheapen beaten up guitars, and a shitty off-brand five-string bass a previous neighbour had gifted me before moving out — it’s garbage and largely useless unless you happen to be in a Korn covers band, but it’s hard to justify turning down a free bass, despite the extra string and sharp metal-band design.

I’m sure they plan to resell the guitars, but I like to think they’ll keep them and start a junkie jug band. They emptied a coin jar which had about ten dollars in shrapnel – probably what they brought the tin of Milo with.

They were young junkies I assume; two camcorders remained, as did the TV, DVDs (Seachange season one, too!), books, most of my records, and all the electrical gear. Plus, check out that vintage dope-cooking gear in the photo above. That’s stylish paraphernalia, from the era of opium dens and smoking jackets.

There were piles of clothes dragged out of the wardrobe and dumped onto the floor, too, but I feel those were removed to sleep on.

As far as makeshift beds go, it did look rather comfortable. I pick up the needle, and place it in the Milo tin, and wonder where they are right now.

The article was originally published on Brag Magazine