I was already finding him a little bit wearing. Kev is 27, but comes across as being more like 19 sometimes. He's had some really bad shit go on in his past and he was moving in with me fresh from his landlady doing a bunk with his rent and leading him and his housemates to be evicted by bailifs. He was a friend of Sal, who's known him for some time and who was putting him up pending him finding something more permanent. The thing is, he seemed very needy a lot of the time - he wanted to talk about every decision he had to make, justifying it as he saw it at the time, and then changing his mind the next day. Should he get back with a former boyfriend? Should he really pursue the possibility of club work to the full extent if there was no money available in the short term? Should he buy Cola to replace what he'd drunk of mine or should he just give me money? And so on, and it was getting a bit wearing. However, he was keen to find a job and being proactive about it, so I thought things would settle down after a few weeks.
Then this weekend things went very strange. On Friday night he was excited and keen to visit his mother. He's made contact with her and it's been building up over the last few years or months after he spent most of his childhood in foster care. He'd realised that it was mother's day and decided to go up and surprise his mum. He spent much of Friday night trying to get this organised with various siblings, and in the process he accidentally (definitely accidental, I witnessed it) knocked my satnav device on the floor. The screen cracked and after that it was unresponsive in terms of the touchscreen. He was incredibly apologetic and said although he was broke at the moment he'd definitely see me right and pay me back. I ordered a cheap replacement, sniping a unit on ebay in the closing minutes of the auction.
I went to bed on Friday night with Kev telling me that he would be gone early in the morning. I got up fairly early myself and the house was quiet, but it turned out he was in bed. I went out to pick up something from the post office and while there, Sal called. Sal had been planning to lend Kev the money for the coach ticket but was away from computers and wouldn't be near one for hours. He asked if I could get the ticket sorted and he'd pay me back. I agreed to this and assumed I'd be buying a ticket for Saturday afternoon, but Kev's plans had changed. He said that his sister turned out to be taking everyone for a meal and because it was pre-booked he couldn't join them, so it made more sense to go on Sunday. We booked the ticket. Then Kev looked into the train times to get him from mine to Victoria early on a Sunday and they just didn't work out. He decided to go and stay with friends more centrally the Saturday night, and said he'd be back on the Monday sometime.
Sunday morning, Greg came over and we spent the day winding around southeast England. We visited Rochester castle and then went all the way to Margate for some lovely fish and chips and a look at the sea. We got back home to mine at around 7pm, awaiting Neil's arrival. As we aproached the house I noted that Kev seemed to have left his light on - and on getting in I found his keys were in the house. He didn't emerge for a while, but when he came down to smoke on the balcony we said hi and I asked what had happened that he'd not ended up in Liverpool. He was very stressed and his voice was choked as he told us that in a good mood on Friday it had all seemed like a great idea but as the time approached he got more worried and realised he wasn't ready to face them, so he hadn't gone, and then he'd had some sort of a to-do lying to his sister about why. He went back to his room. An hour or so later he came back out, and asked pleadingly for a lift to the station, saying it wasn't something he'd make a habit of asking for. Not having driven a passenger yet, nor driven in the dark, I was less than keen, but having the excuse of waiting for Neil, I asked Greg if he'd do it. Greg obliged, and was kept waiting for twenty minutes while Kev stressed and muttered and ran up and down stairs grabbing one more thing, or deciding to leave something behind, going to the loo and being generally incredibly aggitated and tearful. When I asked him when he'd be back he seemed not to like the question and was vague about it.
We went to bed and I fell asleep about 1am. At 4am a voice outside the door said, "Can I come in a minute? Oh, no, you're probably asleep, aren't you?". It woke me up, made me roll my eyes, but I didn't reply. There was some movement but it seemed to settle down.
At around 5.30 I was awake again, feeling too warm and trying to go back to sleep. I could hear Kev talking quietly, I thought he was on the phone. By 6 or so he was getting louder and kept telling someone he wasn't going to open the window because it's cold outside. By 6.15 I was convinced he had someone in there with him, which wasn't a big issue, but I wanted them to go downstairs and stop disturbing people. I went and spoke to Kev. He was alone and still saying "No! It's cold out there, I'm not going to open the window!" When I asked who he was talking to he was dismissive, telling me that they kept trying to make him do stuff he didn't want to. I ask him who. "The prickly things!" he tells me. "What prickly things?" I ask. Kev looks around as though they've inexplicably disappeared. Then he flings open the wardrobe. "I see what they're trying to do!" he exclaims, staring into it. His pupils are dilated. He's clearly on something. I ask him if he's taken something. "No," he claims, "No, I haven't, I haven't taken drugs, not tonight."
Hmm. I ask him to keep the noise down, point out people are trying to sleep, say he should lie down and get some rest himself. The room is a complete tip, ankle deep in stuff. He seems to calm down briefly. I go to the toilet. As I come out, there are crashes and bangs coming from the room. When I question him, Kev tells me he is doing what he was told to do, he's getting his stuff out like the message on the mobile phone told him to. I try to get some sense out of him, explain nobody has told him to take his stuff. He's aggitated and insistant. I get concerned. I can now see a hole in the wall that never used to be there. I go downstairs to the other bathroom, lock myself in and try to call Sal. It's getting closer to 7am now. Sal's asleep, so no answer. As I emerge, Kev is unlocking the front doors and he tells me he's going to Runcorn, which is the area his mum lives in. I call Sal again, leaving a second message updating him. I go upstairs and look out of the window. Kev is standing very still on the roadside, peering at his phone. As a car goes past he starts to yell at it, shaking his fists and acting threatening. I go and talk to Greg about it. Greg points out that if I think he's a danger to himself or others I should be calling 999.
I call the police. By the time they get to me (having gone and knocked at 163 of some other street for a while) Kev is long gone, I don't even know in which direction. They advise me that it's a dispute between a landlady and tennant and they can't do anything unless he's threatening - unless I want to have him arrested for criminal damage in terms of the hole in my wall. They say that I can change the locks, call him and inform him that he's not to come back, and if he then attempts entry and becomes aggressive I can call them back. Although they give reasonably sound advice it's all a bit bad cop/good cop with one guy being quite aggressive towards me and pretty much challenging me with "what do you want us to do about it?". It emerges that he's misunderstood my explanation of why Kev is in my place, having misheard me say that his landlady did a bunk with his rent money and understood that Kev had run off with money somehow at a previous tenancy. Anyway, they suggest I stay home from work, get the locks changed and not let Kev back in. I put a note in the window: "Kev, do NOT try to enter the property. Call me. Max."
I try to get in touch with people who might be available to help with lock changes, being very keen to avoid the cost of a proper locksmith. Eventually we decide Greg will stay and look after the place if necessary while I go find the parts at B&Q. I'm unhappy at this, I'd rather be in to kind of defend my own property, but it does make sense. I plan to do this after eating and getting in touch with work.
Eventually, before I go anywhere, Kev reappears without the suitcase. He doesn't try to get in, but shouts upstairs. When I look out of the window he tells me he's turning himself in, putting his hands in a cuffed position and holding them up imploringly. "Call the police", he urges, "I'm turning myself in!" I call the police, worried that they'll say he's done nothing wrong and refuse to attend. Greg keeps him talking, trying to work out what he thinks he's turning himself in for - he doesn't seem to know. I come down to join him. We stay inside, with the window open to make sound more audible. I ask where Kev's stuff is. He says he had to dump the suitcase, he had to, it was covered in yellow paint. It hadn't been when we'd last seen him (it later emerges this was another hallucination). The case had his laptop in it among other things. The police come back. They're now good cop, good cop, oddly. I've started to remove stuff from Kev's room by this point, and among his possesions I have found various things of my own. Nothing big, but there are cables he has no use for (like my iPhone cable which I had been confused at losing), art materials such as modelling clay and fabric paint, a couple of USB devices, some computer games hidden under a pillow. I talk to the police. They say that I can have him arrested for criminal damage and/or theft but it's unlikely to help anything. They check that I am effectively evicting him, ask whether he has been told that directly.
I have left a message on his answerphone by this point saying so, and there was the note in the window warning him not to enter the house. I've also left a message for Sal telling him this. But I haven't told him directly. The police go and inform Kev that this is the case, that he no longer lives here, that his stuff will be taken to Sal's and that he must hand over the keys. Kev's still not sure what's what. He's reacted badly upon realising that something he'd thought was an hallucination was probably real - something about needing to be somewhere at 10am. He cries at this. He's chain smoking cigarettes and Greg's offered him a cup of tea which I made for him. He admits to the police that he has taken drugs, that it was hours ago and it doesn't seem to be stopping. They call an ambulance to get him checked out.
He has no idea where his suitcase is. He claims to have been sitting in a park thinking about things and says his mum always says he runs from stuff and he has come to face it this time. He thinks the suitcase may be on the footbridge that leads to the park. He doesn't have the phone any more, or my keys. Not knowing if they are with something giving the address in his suitcase, I want to change the locks. Kev goes to the ambulance, the police tell me he is refusing to go to hospital. They think he's been taking mephodrone, not methodone which it sounded like he admitted to. He has said that he also takes ketamine when he's bored.
I get in touch with work, tell them I won't be in, try to get cover for a meeting I was meant to attend. They're understanding and tell me to take my time getting things sorted out. Greg stays in while I go to B&Q. I get a message from Sal who has just woke up. He's not sure what's going on, but has Kev at his. His understanding is that Kev will be going up to his family which should help get him sorted out. I go to B&Q twice, accidentally getting a lock too short the first time around. Sal calls again, having organised getting Kev's stuff.
I start turfing more and more of it out of his room, which, by the way, smells very weird. Greg suspects he's been smoking something in there. I notice that the wardrobe is broken as well as the wall. The room is horrendous, mould in mugs, glitter spilt over everything, scissors, makeup clothes, electronics, all just strewn everywhere. He'd asked if it was okay to paint the room a less bright colour than the yellow it started out, and I'd said sure, go ahead as long as it was something neutral. He'd gotten as far as painting around the doorframe and skirting on one wall only.
Eventually Sal and Shaun turn up to pick stuff up. We realise that Kev's folks really aren't likely to be coming to get him. Shaun gets a bit concerned about having left Kev with his laptop back at Sal's after hearing about the random stuff of mine that got squirreled away in his room. Sal tells me that the suitcase was recovered having been taken to some depot after having been left at Abbey Wood station - someone was asked to look after it for a couple of hours, but then it got cleaned up by station staff. I don't think we'll ever know where Kev was for those couple of hours.
I don't seem to have much luck with lodgers...