The text I never thought I’d get:
I’ve had false hope with my unwell neighbor before. His family threatened him with eviction. His family evicted him. But he always made it back.
Under threat of eviction, he did just enough and knew who in the family to appeal to in order to avoid it. Once evicted, he caught a night patrol that the HOA hired and convinced him he was locked out. Checking the homeowner roster against his ID, the guy let him into the building, where CrazyTown broke into his own unit and stayed for a few days before getting hauled away again.
It was this skill that scared me. His breaking and entering skills. I’d had poor nights of sleep several times during his residency. The kind where you wake up and there’s an immediate sense of disease. Then you chalk it up to the preternatural quiet “waking you up” and try to calm yourself back to sleep, ignoring the fact that the silence feels like a living presence in your room.
The day he was finally evicted, my downstairs neighbor locked himself out of his unit. Being a renter, his landlord has a realtor lockbox in one of our fire exits. Only he’d forgotten the code, so he came up to ask my neighbor – the HOA President – if he knew it. Code secured, he was off to get his spare key and get into his unit before the food on his stove burned the place down.
He returned a few minutes later after the empty lockbox reminded him he’d failed to return the spare last time he locked himself out. They were discussing the urgency of the situation when CrazyTown emerged from his unit, insisting he could help.
Armed only with his Oregon Trail card – our version of Food Stamps, and remember this guy has a Trust Fund – he was off to save the day…despite the objections that I could hear in my unit. By the time the resident and the Board President caught up with him, he was moments away from having the door open. The more they insisted he stop, the more urgently he worked.
Seconds later, the door was open. Sure, the frame was cracked halfway up the side, but nothing was on fire.
In his haste to stop the burgling savior, my neighbor had locked his own self out of his unit. Irony! He was in in a jiffy, this time with no damage, too. Apparently, an audience of one is all CrazyTown’s fragile nerves can take before his helpfulness manifests as a destructive force.
That night, the day he was evicted, I dreamt I came home and found Myrtle’s litter box filled into a mound. I would never do that because she prefers a firm foundation for her business doings…otherwise it goes on the floor. Not thinking about how or why, I turn to the utility room to get the bag and return the excess litter to it. The empty bag was right by the utility room door. Of course, I had just walked by this door after I entered, but you know how your mind haphazardly throws these details out in your dreams. I scoop the excess litter back into the bag and return it to the utility room.
There’s a candle lit on the dryer. I blow out the fire hazard I am sure I didn’t light and close the laundry room up again. There’s a decorative ladder bookcase leaning against the wall between the utility room door and my front entry. Like the cat litter bag, it hadn’t been there before.
Turning away from it, I see a bunch of dark shadows lying on the floor of my bedroom and cross my dark living room to investigate. My darkened room is lined all around the bed with suitcases, including a ski utility bag. Then I notice the linens have been changed from my earth tone linens to a grey color scheme. I turn on the light and CrazyTown sits up in my bed.
I wake myself up. No more sleep for old Xtopher that night.
A few weeks pass with random stories around the neighborhood of sightings or updates from his siblings. One night, I’m walking to the bar around the corner in the hotel on my block. There’s a smashed but not broken out window on the vacant business on my side of the hotel. Instinctively, I know it’s CrazyTown.
During my second beer, while I’m chatting with the owner, CrazyTown walks into the bar with an open container and a mania you can feel. He takes the order to leave as an invitation to approach the bar and spew yeah-buts at the bartender until every eye in the place is on him. He’s standing between me and the owner and hasn’t seemed to notice me. I’m looking down and away, mentally offering up something approaching prayer.
Giving up, CrazyTown turns away from me to leave. By the time he’s halfway to the door, he’s come fully around and declares, “This guy here, though. He’s the best roommate I ever had!”, coming at me with his fist out for a broment I reject as every eye swivels to me.
Joisus feckin’ Chroist.
I order another drink and spend it explaining I never shared a home with CrazyTown – not that one, anyway – and telling the owner and bartender that was the crazy neighbor I’ve been
drinking talking about for the last couple years.
When I get off the elevator later that night, I see our common area has been redecorated.
This leaves little doubt he’s back in the building.
A few days later he’s out and my neighbor has hired the locksmith that rekeyed both the building’s exterior locks and CrazyTown’s unit a few weeks earlier to come back and put a deadbolt on the once again empty unit.
The next day, I notice what I assume is one of Myrtle’s toys in the corner between my desk and hall closet. Do not judge the cleanliness of this space in the photo below!
I wonder how long it’s been there and hope it’s not new. I’m fooling myself into vaguely remembering it being there for a long while, but I know that’s just to distract me from the bowl of dum-dums CrazyTown kept on his kitchen counter.
I was never more sure that I needed to move than in that moment. I’m also not sure what’s worse, the sucker being a new arrival or one I’ve actively overlooked for months.
Sometime in all this my wallet also went missing. Luckily I had my “earthquake money” – a hundred bucks cash and a credit card – to get me by. I tore my place apart looking for it, more than once under the couch cushions, in the laundry room, bathroom, closet, dresser drawers…everywhere.
It finally turned up a few days later while I was cooking. I opened my knife drawer and there it was. I put it there when I entertain people I don’t know well enough to trust, if you get my drift. It’s a grim reminder that if shit goes south, I won’t be easily rolled and if shit only goes sideways, I have knives.
I counted the knives several times to ensure none were missing. Also wondering if my wallet being there indicated I’d had a specifically unmemorable fuck the night before I realized my wallet was missing or if someone was fucking with me.
Pretty sure I know which scenario was the reality. And. I. Don’t. Like. It.
So, color me optimistically relieved that this chapter is finally closed. 🙏🏽