May 19, 2006

I have no neighbors

Four of the six units in my building are apparently empty, which is nice as I'm able to do things like run the washer and dryer at 6 am. At one time I suffered from rather a surfeit of neighbors--at least neighbors of the wrong sort.

There was the constantly warring couple. I met her one afternoon shortly after they moved in; she was on her way out as I was coming in with a trunk full of groceries, which she insisted on helping me carry up the three flights of stairs to my apartment. That weekend, as I was sitting at my desk blogging, I heard shouts and banging on the door of their apartment, some smashing noises and the slamming of the apartment door followed. Then, after a moment or so of silence, I heard her sobbing and calling for help. I went out to see what I could do.

Big mistake.

The boyfriend had locked her out of the apartment and took off to places unknown after smashing her stereo. She was barefoot and without a coat so I invited her in and was treated to her tale of woe. She was one of those people whose lives are a messy combination of bad luck and bad judgment. She was divorced and had lost custody of her 11-year-old daughter. She had been in a car accident that totalled her car and while she was in the hospital her then-roommate stole all of her possessions. She was trying to restart her business--she cleaned houses--and regain custody of her daughter. Then she met the current bozo. Now she didn't know what to do: The apartment was in his name, not hers. She wanted to get him kicked out. I may have offered suggestions. We kicked that around for a while, then the maintenance guy finally came and let her back in her apartment.

She invited me downstairs for a drink. I suggested that she come to my place instead as I had plenty to drink. She said she wanted to take a shower and stop at the store first. An hour later, she knocked on the door. Bozo had called. He was sorry. They had a lot to talk about and he was on his way back.

End of story. Except that it wasn't. A few weeks later, I was awakened at 3 am to the now-familiar sounds of smashing furniture and door banging. She screamed out: "Someone call the police." I obliged. Things had quieted down by the time the cops came and I drifted back to sleep. At 5 am, it started again. This time, someone else called the cops.

About a month later, I saw her on the grounds riding bicycles with a little girl whom I took to be her daughter. She kind of looked at me sheepishly. The little girl was there a lot in the following weeks. The door banging and slamming had stopped, but the yelling and screaming continued sporadically. I saw him from time to time; he always had a couple sixpacks with him.

As the weather got warmer, the happy couple took to grilling on their balcony. When we were sitting outside we caught such conversational gems as him telling her that he didn't want to spend his hard earned money on her daughter as he already had to pay child support for his own kid. I began to notice that she loved to have an audience to their contretemps. One minute you'd hear screaming inside, then she'd open the door and run out and start yelling. Sometimes she'd run out and down to her car and continue the argument from her car. Other times she'd stand outside the entryway to their apartment and yell her head off.

One day I noticed that they were packing up their stuff. Much yelling and door slamming ensued. One time she ran out after him as he was getting into his car. He said something about someone screwing his ex-wife. She said, "Face it, everyone was screwing your ex-wife."

And that was the last I saw of them.

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