Friday, August 10, 2012

Watcher

Studynook a la Thomas
I have been studying for my RNFA course.  I have noticed that if I am inside the apartment, I will undoubtedly distract myself.  I will need to beat one level in a video game, I will need to fix myself a snack, I will negotiate one more episode of Law and Order; there will always be something.  So I study on the porch or at the library.  The library is great.  It's quiet.  It forces you to focus on the topic and the only distractions you have are the ones you bring in with you.  But the internet there is terrible and when all your exams are online and you are constantly losing the progress on the exams because the router keeps resetting itself one can get frustrated.  
    So, the porch is my study.  It’s amazing what ten feet can accomplish.  Ten feet makes my PC or the Wii too far away to play.  Ten feet means changing the channel to see what else is on such a hassle.  Plus the internet is stable and I can answer the phone if I must.  
I had been studying for a good part of the day.  When walking up the road I can see Tony with a plastic bag in his hand. He walks up to his car and opens the drivers door to place bag on the car seat.   I use the term car loosely.  It bears the shape of a car but I certainly could not call it an automobile.  Because I only see it pushed around manually in the lot so there is nothing auto or mobile about it.  It is a rust heap.  He has told me numerous times he plans to fix it.  So far the only change that I see is that the trunk now requires a rubber bungee cord to stay closed.  
I deftly avoided eye contact but it does not matter.  He is like a disinterest carrying passenger liner coasting into the harbor of my mind.  He is oblivious to any desire I have to be left alone.  It is a honed art.  He slowly drifts up to my porch, his movements remind me of a nursing home resident thorazine shuffle.
    “Hey Tom.”  He holds a hand over the porch banister for a handshake.  
    “Hi.”  I reluctantly take his hand a give him a firm grip.
    “What are you doing?”
    “Studying. For a class.”
    “You’re the nurse.  But Sam is the teacher.”  I am convinced this has now gone into his repertoire of things he forces his rattled brain to remember.  He is not saying this as a conversation piece but to remind himself.  It makes me curious what other relatively recent data he force feeds into his brain.
    “So this is a nurse class? Are you going to be a doctor now?”
    “Yup.”  I have probably only looked up from my books once or twice during all of this.
“Maybe you could be my doctor.”  He said with a smile.
“Maybe.”     
“Did you see they took my hose away?”  It’s like a wrestling match.  He wants to pin my attention into submission.  Meanwhile I am trying to exude a lack of attention which is slipping out between him and the mat.  I know ultimately, unless I go inside, he will win.  If I go inside, I won’t be able to study.  
“Who took the hose?”  I force my nose back into the vascular portion of my anatomy and physiology book.  
“They did. The office did.”
“They have a hose.  Why would they want your hose?” I ask.
“That's what I said.  But she wanted to borrow it.  She gave it to her brother in law.  And now I am not getting it back.  He keeps sayin’ he is gonna bring it back.  But...”
“He isn’t?” I asked incredulously.
“Nope.  So I bought a new one.  On sale.  Normally this hose with the ahh...with the umm...” I look up from the book, which is more like a prop now; the prop of the would be student.  He is making a squeezing gesture.  We are playing charades.  
Okay.  One word.  Undisclosed syllables.  Attached to a hose and is pumped repeatedly like an cow’s udder.  I bet I could make up a word right now and argue with him that it is the correct word for it.  Blastunger.  You could argue that it’s a German word.  That the Germans invented the hose.  Prior to Germanic Wars.  In Germany.  Where they speak German.  Blastunger.  Say blastunger, Tom.
“Sprayer?  Nozzle?”  Pussy.  
“Yeah.  A nozzle.  A hose with a sprayer nozzle.  And a nice one, not one of those cheap-made in-China ones that break if you drop it the wrong way. Guess how much I paid for it?”
With no effort on my part, a number jumped into my head.  Thirty Five.  Bob Barker was standing there with his funny looking pencil thin microphone.  I am jumping up and down gushing incoherently next to him wondering what game I will play next after ‘Charades’ and ‘Guess the Number.’
I look down at my book which has now made my fingertips numb.  I can not remember anything.  I’ve been reading right iliac artery repeatedly since he came over.  Nothing is sticking.  It’s like someone is giving me turn by turn directions in Manhattan but the directions are moments past the point I needed them so everything sounds familiar but I can not do anything about it.  
I realize only then, my attention span was pinned before he even approached me.  It’s just he knocked it down with such force that my brain still thought it was fighting him off.  
    I relent, “Thirty five?”
    “Hah!  Eight Bucks! You want to know how much it is worth?”
    “Eh.” I shrug.
    “At least Forty five!  At LEAST.”  This conversation sucks. This is a conversation that fat polyester blend wearing suburban home owning neighbors have while standing over John Deere lawn mowers.
    “I know it doesn’t have that spool that rolls the hose up like the other one but I promise I will keep it neat.  But like what I said before don’t tell anyone.  We don’t do that around here.”  He is holding up one finger as though he was going to put it up to his lips but I think his hand lost its way to his mouth.  
(Addendum:  A few weeks prior to this Sam was away in Florida.  I was sitting at home watching tv on the couch.  Yes.  It was after midnight and yes, I was sitting there in my underwear.  There is a knock at my door and Dante, of course, goes ape shit.  A KNOCK? AFTER MIDNIGHT!? He barked as I struggled to get my pants on. If I am going to get murdered I am at least not going to look like some bum.  When I looked out my peephole, I don’t see anything.  Another knock.  Dante repeats his concern for my safety.  It turned out it was Tony.  In the bushes, attaching a hose to the spigot outside my front door.  This would be the hose that believed gets stolen by the office. He wanted to tell me he was outside, so that I don't call the cops on him for fixing his hose outside my apartment.  Bear in mind had he just done his business I would have had no idea he was even there.  He also told me I could just the hose for all my apartment needs when ever I wanted I did not have to ask.  The only rule is, we can’t tell anyone.  His hose was to be OUR secret.)
He points at the dying flowers hanging from planters on the porch.  "You can use the hose to water your plants if you want. I am going to power wash all these windows. you know the management really should be doing all this."
"Maybe that's why they needed the hose." I said.  His mouth opened and closed somewhere a synapse fired and then forgot why.
"Maybe."
Dante stirred from inside the apartment and walked outside. He looked up at the man who can never get his name right. He is wearing a white warm up jumper with an irish flag embroidered his left breast. He looks like an irish soccer hooligan.
"Heeeeeeyyy. Diego."
Nope."
“Dago. Right?”
"Nope."
I have my theories as to why he thinks my dog is a racial slur.  My best one is when I first introduced him to Dante.  He repeated it to himself and asked me if the name was Spanish or Italian.  Dante is named after Dante Alighieri.  So I answered Italian.  Since then, he calls out a random Italian sounding name usually starting with the letter D.  So, he sees my dog and thinks: Diego first, because who names their dog a slur for an Italian person?  Apparently me because Dago, is the next word he pitches when Diego gets shot down.   Danny, Doggie, Rex (the neighbor’s Pitbull), and my personal favorite “Kitty Kat.”
“Dante..” I was not going to have him walk through all the D words his brain damage can recall like he was taking some neurologic exam.
“Dante! Dante, Dante, Dante.”  He said pretending like he was going to finally commit it to memory.  He calls Dante to him making a noise I am familiar with calling for a cat while snapping his fingers.  Dante sniffs his hand, to which at the time I thought it was because he wanted food.  He reaches down over the banister and steadies himself on my dying lilies.  He is petting Dante he is moving further away from his hand making him stretch his arm further.  The banister creaks under his weight. Dante lays down flat right in front of him and it takes real effort on Tony’s part to pet him.  
“This dog is so nice.  He wouldn’t harm a flea.”
“He might.” I say looking down at Dante.   
“Check out the ass on that.”  I look up at him. He is staring at something behind me.  Which is good that he was not checking out my dogs ass.  
    I have seen his girlfriend Bonnie.  So I wondered what he qualified as a something with nice ass would land on my threshold.  The problem is my back is turned to whatever he sees.  I would have to back up my chair and turn around in order to see.  He is still staring.  He looks captivated.
    It’s killing me.  I place my book on the table, scoot my chair backwards and look over my left shoulder.  There are several people outside on the lawn right now.  All of whom belong to this Indian family that lives in the building next to ours.  There is a young teenage boy chasing what I presumed to be his little brother.  On the lawn, standing there was a young 12 year old girl who was waving to her father as he pulling out backwards in his minivan.  I thought for a moment the mom was walking away from the community mailbox but they were out of my view.
“I don’t know who you are talking about.”  Maybe it was the mom.  I thought.  I hoped.  
“What do you mean? You did not see her?”  A few moments went by and he leaned over to pet Dante again.  In this time I pondered what I thought the mother looked like last time I saw her.  The more I thought the more I worried it was not the mom he was talking about.  Suddenly he stiffened up and stared off back across the lawn.  
“Quick.  There she is again. Man, check out that hot piece of ass.”
    I sat there a moment.  Begging God, Heaven, the cosmos for anyone.  
A tall voluptuous OF AGE 18 year old Indian bombshell.  
An awake, alert, oriented ninety six year old woman with a recent hip replacement and a walker.  
Shit, at this point I would take a stark naked full consenting 21 year old male Adonis with body of flesh colored marble and a three foot penis.
Anything but a petite innocent 12 year old Indian girl in pink pajamas.  
    I slowly turned around around grasping for anything.  It was like I was in some perverse evil morality play using the framework of a “Where’s Waldo?” book.  FIND THE LEAST MORALLY REPUGNANT SEX OBJECT AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.
    It was only the girl.  I quickly turned back around.  I felt disgusting.  I felt like I was some dirty shit head in some pervert chatroom ribbing one another while cat calling on an elementary school playground.  Any moment, Chris Hansen was going walk up to me.  
    “Dude.  I don’t know who you are talking about.  All I see is the little girl not a piece of ass.”
    “I guess you missed her.” He leaned back over the banister to pet my dog, but Dante was coming over to me now.  Maybe he could sense how uncomfortable I was.  I looked down at him and he looked up at me and I pet his head.  Across his brown fur I could see a red streak.  At first I thought it was paint or something.  But I’ve seen this at work before.  It was blood.  I looked at him closely the red clashed starkly with his white fur.  I looked at my hands and on my right hand in my palm there was half dollar sized mark of dry blood.  
I wasn’t bleeding.  “Tony I have blood all over my fucking hands Dante has blood all over him. Are you cut?”
“No.  Why would I be cut?”
I breathed a sigh of relief.  Thank god.  Maybe it was Dante or I scratched a scab on my leg or something.   
    “Oh wait.  Yeah.  I guess I am bleeding.  I fell before. Yeah here.  Look.”  I looked up at him and he was pulling back a flap of skin between the webbing of his right thumb and index finger.  He had blood all over his left sleeve  that I could not see until I stood up.
    “I was wondering where that was coming from.” He said looking down at his sleeve.  “Its okay.  It will heal.”
    I was stunned.  As though concern for him had even a whisper of possibility in the realm of reality right now   I had no sympathy for him.  This man I barely know bled all over me and my dog.  This possibly evil man who with my luck has AIDS, with a side of Hep alphabet. and a sprinkling of blood borne antibiotic resistant pathogens.  Its pointless to stay here.  This is the best worst reason to bring this conversation to a close.  
    “I have to go Tony.  I need to wash my hands.  And my dog.  You should fix your hand.”  
    “Yeah. Oh okay.  Sorry about that, Tom.  I’ll talk to you later.”
    Dear God, I wish that wasn't the truth.
   

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Apt 146

The perfect supplement to any welcome mat.
The indispensable panty liner.
I still don't know my next door neighbors name.  It’s something foreign sounding and any effort I might make to figure it by cycling through random names would only make me look like a racist.  So, I just call him Shane.  Only recently was I finally able to commit the name of his girlfriend to mind, Agatha (not her real name). The only reason I am probably going to remember that is because Sam told me and the only reason I am probably not going to remember it is because I feel this compulsion to give her a fake name on this blog.  
Agatha suns herself on a beach chair that Tony found.  I have the feeling it is because Tony once saw her sunning herself on a towel and being a creepy demented rapist sortof guy encouraged them to take it so she would sun herself more.  This beach chair was one of a pair that was thrown in the dumpster.  Tony reclaimed one of them, cleaned it off, and gave it to them.    
I was once speaking with one of the property managers and she let it slip that Agatha is actually the lease signer.  She also let it slip that as far as she knew Shane is not Agatha’s husband and gave me this vibe that she did not think he was the father of their baby either.  Shane and Agatha both own gold/tan colored cars.  One is a Nissan while the other car is a Lexus.  Shane and Agatha have got to be pretty popular too.  Day and night they get quick five minute visits from different people.  Sometimes visits so fast they do not even bother turning off their car.  
Yes Agatha, you too can park your car like a selfish asshole.
One day coming home from work from the Surgicenter I saw Shane and his Lexus pulled over with two police cars.  He was sitting on the curb.  One of the cop cars was a K9 unit.  Shortly after that he vanished for about 2-3 months.  Only the Nissan occupied a space in front of the apartment.  Agatha still entertained guests.  Including one gentleman who helped her change her locks and door frame one day.  


So...OBSERVATIONS ASSEMBLE!
1) Whitewood Gardens is an affordable place which Agatha had to sign the lease while telling the rental office she was a single mother.
2) Shane and Agatha own a pitbull who flips a shit if I walk near their apartment.  
3) Lots of visitors.  Day or night.  Quick visits.
4) These visits stop if Shane is not around.  
5) Not only did they change the locks on their door they also replaced the door frame.  All of this was done without the knowledge or approval of the property manager.  
6) Shane attracts the attention of police officers.  
No, It's never too late at night to fortify
your drug den.
    It’s obvious.  Shane is a doctor and these people are dropping by for wellness visits.  Agatha is a nurse and without the capable Dr. Shane Ghetto Physician she can not take care of the surrounding populace.  His services are so desired that they had to increase security to protect their new born child.  
    No.  The truth is, Shane is probably a drug dealer.  Can I say that with definitive certainty?  No, not at all.  I know what you are thinking, “Tom!? How can you tolerate living next to a possible drug dealer?”  To which I have forced myself to accept that there HAS to be some benefit.  The biggest is they tend to keep to themselves. They leave me and my wife alone which is more than I can say for Tony and Bonnie.  There is a reduced chance that someone will do something stupid because I am sure Shane does not want to attract the attention his uniformed friends of Eatontown.  They are quiet neighbors and only once in my 8 months living here have I seen them throw a party and even that was only about 10 people.  
    With that comes an assortment of problems and headaches.  For one, I AM LIVING NEXT DOOR TO A FUCKING DRUG DEALER.  These shifty people are always sitting out there with their headlights on.  Sitting in their cars for extended periods of time before leaving.  Who knows if one of these shifty people get the wrong door one day or get really frustrated with their dealer one night and shoot up the apartment.  Or one night will I have to deal with being questioned by police officers, who might think my lack of knowing anything be interpreted as me being a patron of his pharmaceutical services.
But, the greatest issue I have comes mostly from their 70 lb pit bull, Max.  I am sure with in the Agatha/Shane household Max must be like one of the family.  This is evidenced by the the fact Max is not kept on a leash anymore.  Shane will sit on his porch or leaned into the open windows of his visitors cars with Max sniffing around yards away from him.  Sometimes Sam and I will pull up in our car and Shane will see us and tell Max to go inside and he obeys.  Which is good because once I was getting something out of my trunk and when I turned around Max was there. Effectively cornering me arms full between my car and the my side opening RAV 4 trunk hatch.  
One night a few months ago Sam went to walk Dante after getting in rather late.  She was walking Dante near the dumpster when as  Sam describes, “Max just appeared.”  It caught Dante off guard because he only saw Max when Sam gasped.  Dante immediately started snarling and lunging at him Sam scooped him up and ran inside.  It became apparent that Max was such a good dog that if it was late enough he could just be let out without supervision to roam the campus of Whitewood Gardens as he saw fit.  
There have been times and I want to emphasize the pluralization of the word TIMES that I have gone to walk Dante and the moment I open my door Max has tried to make his way into my apartment.  I have to quickly yank Dante back to prevent him from protecting his home and quickly close the door so that Max backs up OUT OF MY FUCKING APARTMENT.  This has happened so often that I now look out the peephole all the time and especially before I leave the apartment.  
I was never a peephole user but I am the consummate peephole enthusiast.  I have even browsed the peephole section at Lowe’s to see how much a fully armed and operational peephole upgrade might cost me.
I have more interaction with their dog then the human counterparts.  I don’t care for their proxy too much so in turn I do not care for them.  The property manager asked me one day if I had any problems with their dog.  I did mention that I noticed they sometimes don’t use a leash.  She said she had complaints from other people in the complex about the dog roaming free.  Agatha told her that she was in the process of getting rid of the dog.  That was two months ago.  The dog tried to get in my apartment again last weekend. If I complain too much, everyone might have to get rid of their dogs.  Which would consequently leave Sam, Dante, and I homeless because I am not going to get rid of my dog over some lousy rule.  
Are these neighbors terrible people?  I don’t want to think they are.  
Have I heard their baby crying inside the apartment and did they turn the TV louder?  Yes. But who know maybe the baby prefers dubstep to the booty dropping bass they were playing.
Do I feel awkward when I see Agatha tanning herself and I ask myself what Shane finds attractive?  Yes.  Because I certainly don’t see it.  
Do I wonder what Shane sells and how much it might cost me?  OF COURSE NOT. THAT’S ILLEGAL AND WRONG!  
Am I a little jealous how well behaved their possibly murderous pitbull is?  Don’t tell Dante, but, yes.