Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tony thinks I'm Fat

For the most part, I don’t think I care what my neighbor thinks of me.  With the exception of losing him as an odd sort of muse, I think I would get along fine if he never uttered another word to me.  There is always the peephole in my door which has brought great stories.  I think many of the stories that I currently have of him require several encounters in order to tell.  I get the exposition in the first encounter where the plot and characters are introduced.  The climax in the second encounter and I get the falling action in the third encounter.
Sometimes I have to write these blog entries like they are one long encounter in order for them to make sense.  My encounters create the data, I compile them and distill them into short bursts so that they have some coherence.  The time that takes place between these encounters can be days, weeks, even months.
One of these developing rolling encounters is the realization what Tony thinks of me.  A good portion of my encounters with Tony happen as a result of me having to walk Dante.  I have to walk him several times a day.  Tony has made it abundantly clear that he does not like to spend a whole lot of time with Bonnie/Bitch/Witch/Ugly/Numbnuts. So we run into each other outside. Often. Many of these run ins happen right on my porch because he is sitting on our “common” apartment stoop, drinking.
“Hey, Tom.  You going out?”  
“Just to walk Dante.”  Even if I were going out at this point and taking Dante with me I would have altered my plans right then and there.  I would do this to avoid him asking me to pick him up some beer or give him a ride somewhere.  
“You spoil that dog.”  He says with a smile.
“I haven’t asked him.  He might not think so.”  Dante pulled at the extendable leash.  Perhaps he knows how much I don’t like him and wanted to pull me away from him.
“I bet that dog eats better than I do.  Look at him.” He said looking longingly at Dante.  In his mind Dante must have a seat at our dinner table where he can eat gluttonously until he loses interest or gets sick, no sooner.
“He isn’t that bad. He's all muscle.” I said playfully defending the feelings and body image of my chunky peanut butter loving mutt.
“Heh.  You look like you have a lot of muscle on you then.”
I knew where he was taking aim.  I am not the thinnest of people.  I get it.  On at least two occasions mid-conversation he has thrown in a:
“Tom, are you putting on weight?”
This question immediately creates two self reflective questions in my mind.  Neither of which have anything to do with answering his question.
1) When did we become such confidants that you feel comfortable to tell me I am gaining weight?  
2) How the hell would you know? You have introduced me to our neighbors three times since I have moved into this apartment.  How would you know what I looked like from one encounter to another?  
I personally know I am overweight but its another thing to be told you are overweight by someone else.  It is also an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT thing to be told you are fat by some shithead alcoholic who has drank so much that his liver is scarred beyond normal function and has actually caused permanent brain damage.  
On another encounter, one late Sunday night Samlee and I got home from a road trip. We were unloading the car so that we would not have to do it in the morning.  As I unloaded the trunk, Tony appeared behind me, scaring the shit out of me.  He does not walk.  He does not shuffle.  He drifts.  He can approach so silently that he could easily have gotten the jump on me.  He has done it to me so many times I am sure he does it on purpose now.  
He asked if I needed help and of course I did not want him helping us.  I don’t like him.  I don’t like the idea of him touching my things.  Namely, one of the last few things left in my trunk was a shopping bag full of alcohol that we had taken with us that weekend.  I did not want him touching my booze.  The last thing I need is for him to develop an idea that Sam and I share a love of his greatest debilitating vice.  The only thing worse perhaps is he breaking the contents of the bag because he is a stumbling fool.
“Oh Tony, don’t worry about it I’ll get it in a minute.  How are you?”
“I’m good.  What did you do this weekend?”
“We had a nice time.  Did some sightseeing.  Relaxing. I had a nice time.”
“Well it looks like you did a lot of eating.”  He reached out an open hand and gave the side of my belly a pat.  I pulled away.  Luggage still in each arm.  I felt like I was standing on my front porch, naked.  But instead of telling him.  Get your fucking hands off me you fucking piece of shit. I said:
“Heh. I ate.”
“Yeah, I bet you did. Is there anything you DIDN’T eat?”  
“Heh. Funny.  Good night Tony.”
I live my life by a certain code.  I really do not like to rock the boat.  If I were to get in a fight with this man on my front porch I would have to live with the consequences for as long as I am living here.  I would have to deal with the thought this man who is home all day and as far as I can tell awake all night has proximity to our cars, our apartment, my dog, and of course my wife.  
-Could he scratch my or Sam’s car?  
-Could he break into my apartment while Sam and I are on one of our trips?
-Could he call the management company and complain anonymously about my dog?  
-Could he get in one of his screaming arguments he has with Bonnie, with my wife?

I don’t know. Wrong answer, Tom.  But he has told me “We don’t call the cops around here.  If you have a problem you talk to me about it.”  It’s not that I am not willing to ever “rock the boat.” It’s just that it is going to have to take a bit more than some asshole reminding me I am fat.  Which is good for the microcosm of the international state of affairs of my apartment complex, but not exactly healthy psychologically.
Finally, a few weeks ago I had an encounter with Tony.  But for the first time since I moved in here it happened in my subconscious sleep.  In my dream, Sam and I were going to go out.  But I had to take Dante out first.  So, I was walking Dante in my dream when Tony approached me.  He grabbed my belly and asked me if I was gaining weight.  Dream Thomas does not have the same regard for boat physics that Reality Thomas carries.  
Dream Thomas flew off the handle at him.  
Cursing incoherently at him telling him if he were to ever say another word to Dream Thomas he would put him in the ground.  Dream Tony was not expecting this and recoiled.  Dream Thomas continued his rant insulting Dream Tony’s failing mental health and that a soon to be babbling man child was in no position to point out the vices of other people.  Dream Tony, you are a piece of shit.
Dream Thomas felt vindicated.  Dream Thomas had a moment.  Dream Tony did not say a word (finally!) and walked away.  Dream Thomas went back inside with Dream Dante and told the story to Dream Samlee.  In my dream, we were getting ready to go out, so I started changing to leave.  Sadly, this is when my Freudian superego had to start over-thinking things, it could not let my id think that what happened was acceptable.  
So logically, Dream Tony swung my front door open and proceeds to get into a fight with me in my own house.  Dream Thomas standing there at the end of the hallway while Dream Tony is standing in the doorway.  Of course, Dream Thomas is standing there exposed, in his underwear cursing at him at the top of his dream lungs.  
Both of them swearing to hurt one another.  Dream Tony telling Dream Thomas he better watch his back.  Dream Thomas daring Dream Tony to enter the house.  Dream Thomas despite being more furious than a hornets nest wanted Dream Tony to be given a legal reason to be attacked.  Breaking and entering.  Even in a state of raving lunacy I still had the foresight to keep Dream Thomas out of prison.  Dream Thomas crossed the hallway at Dream Tony and suddenly I woke up.  
When I awoke I pushed my face off the pillows and I was stunned that I was still angry. It was amazing.  It was as if my ego wasn’t able to close the door fast enough and repress my emotions and thoughts.  The feeling of anger from yelling at Dream Tony.  The intense feeling of humility at being seen in my underwear in front of this person who obviously thinks less of me.   
The memory was so fresh it took me a few moments to realize it was a dream.  Asking myself where I was, when the event could have happened if it did.  Slowly the reality of it being a dream set in and I was a little melancholic about it.  Glad that I would not have to worry about getting into an open conflict with him but still wishing he could push me to the point where my superego would tell my id and my ego:
“Go ahead, this guy has it coming.”

Saturday, September 15, 2012

For Sale



My neighbor at one time sold used cars.  For obvious, organic brain disease-y reasons, he is no longer working.  When he is not waiting for disability or social security checks I believe he still sells the occasional car.  This is in addition to whatever illegal things he is doing by selling gold or trying to sell the worthless bedbug ridden discards he finds in the dumpster next to our apartment.  
    A few months ago, my neighbor excitedly pointed out his latest purchase.  For $800 he bought a blue heavily used Astrovan which he claimed had only 120k miles on it.  He said he was going to clean it up, detail it, and sell it for $1,600.  But left it open to the possibility he might give the car to his neighbor upstairs to get "fringe benefits". I shudder to think what that would entail.  He reminded me he sold this guy the car he currently drives, a white police interceptor complete with a polished chrome searchlight on the drivers side door.  
I am NOT a stalker.
At the car wash...
He kept to his word.  Over the course of two or three months, he would wash this car religiously every other day regardless if the car was driven anywhere and regardless of any drought precautions that were in place at the time.  Through his hardwork and dedication he was able to obtain a wonderfully dull, faded, evenly scratched surface you can only get through diligent repeated soapless, polishless carwashes with old t-shirts and dishrags.
This van and his rusted trash-heap are taking up the best parking spaces for our building.  Neither car moves from these spot.  He is convinced that if he were to move the cars to another spot they would be ripe for the taking by thieves.
I think its obnoxious that someone:
1) WHO ISN’T SUPPOSED TO BE LIVING HERE,
2) Does not have a license due to his ALCOHOL INDUCED DEMENTIA and his repeated DUI’s,
3) DOESN’T DRIVE,
4) DOESN’T WORK,
...now has two cars, in the best spots, and one of them is up on jacks and bricks.  It is as though he wanted to make sure when I invited friends or family over they would know before they even got out of their cars that I was renting in a real grade A joint.  
One night while Sam and I were having dinner we heard a fight upstairs.  Their fights are aggravating not because they are having them but because it's incredibly hard to discern what they are saying. It's as if the teacher from the old peanuts cartoon was getting into an argument with her male counterpart. Later that night I saw him washing the cars again but this time he moved the van to the other side of the parking lot  To showcase the car better he parked the car at an angle so that it took up two spots.  Spots in the area I typically park my car so that I don’t have to worry about him getting the itch to clean my car with his dirty dishrags.
Operators are standing by...
The very next morning, it had a for sale sign on it. $1,600 OR BO.  Yes.  That is his number if any of you are interested.  But I suggest you keep reading before you call.  
On Labor Day, I labored an evening shift at the hospital.  I got home at nearly 11 at night.  When I pulled up I saw Tony, he looked panicked he was pacing back and forth on the sidewalk in front of our apartment.  
“Tony? Is everything okay?”
“No.  They are coming for me, man.  I gotta go.” This would not be the first time the cops have come to the house, so him getting picked up is not something outside the realm of the possible.  He was drunk.  I didn’t have current evidence to back that up, only probability.  It was late.  He was outside.  He wasn’t making a lot of sense.  Plus, he is always drunk.  It would be pretty fantastic if he is this freaked out during one of the few times in his life that he is sober.  
“Where are you going to go?”
“I don’t know.  I just gotta...”  He trailed off for a second as he watched a car drive up towards us and then pass. “...go. They are coming for me.”
“Won’t they find you? Don’t you still have that ankle bracelet on?”
“No, man.  I cut that off days ago.”  He smiled and suddenly he did not seem so panicked.  He pulled up his pants leg to reveal his bare ankle.  
“Who is coming for you then?”  I said moving towards my front door.
“Eh.  The assisted living people.  You know?  Bonnie has had it.”  He is walking a few steps behind me.  When I stop at my door, he walks ahead to the stairs leading to his apartment, each action he makes is methodically taken.  The simple act of moving his hand to put it on the banister appears to channel as much focus as someone trying to levitate or bend a spoon with their mind.
“Bonnie is going to stick me in assisted living.”
“Why?” As in why hasn’t that been done ages ago?
“We had a fight. A bad one.  She is kicking me out and sending me to assisted living.”
I gave the necessary moment of pause to reflect on the tragedy of it all.

One and a Two and a Three...

“Alright man.  Goodnight.”  I cracked the door open and he started to climb the stairs.
“Yeah.  Goodnight.”
Once inside I told Sam about my recent Tony encounter and Sam told me of some epic fight they had earlier while I was at work.  It consisted of a lot of screaming, storming around the apartment, and things hitting the floor.
The next morning when I went outside to head to work I saw this:
The Van.  Now back in one of the better parking places.
    A scene played out in my head.  Tony after speaking with me went inside realizing the error of his ways.  He sat down on his couch, turned on the TV, told his girlfriend to shut up and get him a miller light.  Everything was fine, until he looked outside.  He peeked through the parted space in the venetian blinds created by his index and middle finger.  
    A black van with tinted windows was stopped in the parking lot.  Figures dressed in black lept into the night from a sleek Shady Acres Nursing Home activity van.  They were here.  He quickly scrambled to the front door and swung it open.  They were standing there, holding up giant 100 ml syringes of Haldol.  They reached out to grab him and he quickly slammed the door back catching a hand holding a syringe in the door. He pushed against the weight of 3 nurses aides as the hand dropped the syringe and retracted back outside.  He locked and chained the door as the men on the other side of the door knocked and pleaded for him to open it.  
    He moved away from the door.  He was trapped.  Bonnie came out of the bedroom to see the commotion.  
    “They are here!”
    “Who?”
    “THEM.”  He said still backing away as Bonnie passed him to look out the peephole.  
    “Come on Tony. Calm down. I am sure its nothing. They...oh my God.” They were trying to break the door in. “Quick get the phone!  Call the cops!”  
    “Who did you call?  What am I going to do?”  He went to the kitchen and grabbed the phone.  He noticed the kicking had stopped.  When he came out of the kitchen, Bonnie was standing there the door was wide open.  
    “I am sorry!  It’s for the best!  Honey!”
    “My god Bonnie, what did you do?!”
    “Mr. Tony.  Calm down.  We are here to help.  We are here to take you to a nice place...” He crept up to Tony with his hands up unthreateningly holding a straight jacket its unlocked buckles jingling with each step.
    Tony hit him with the portable phone with such force that the phone burst against his face.
    “You’ll never take me alive!”  He turned and ran across the living room and lept through the glass window out of his second story apartment.  He deftly tumbled in the grass and lept to his feet already moving towards the blue van.  He threw the car into drive screeching the tires as the van lurched forward.  The nurses in black drew pistols and fired.  They blew out two of his tires with sedative laced darts, but Tony swerved keeping control of the car.  A crack driver, a skill he forged through years of boosting and selling cars.   The van exploded through a gate where a security guard had to jump out of the way to avoid the blue Astrovan trailing sparks from its rims.

Tony escaped.

But, there was no broken glass in the yard and if he escaped, why did he drive the car back?  I conceded.  After he spoke to me, he went back inside had another fight with Bonnie and wasn’t going to get picked up and taken away by cops or assisted living personnel.  
He left in the van.  
Drunk.  
Hit a curb.  
Hard.  
With both tires.  
The end.

    Sam, a day later told me that on that night he nearly hit her with his van.  She was walking Dante and he threw the van into reverse and drove the van up onto the sidewalk before throwing the car into drive and driving away.  Nonetheless, I did not see Tony for days.  
Then one day I was sitting in my car in the parking lot organizing my errands on a pad of paper when he appeared.  
    “Hey Tom.”
    “Oh.  Tony.  Hey.”
    “I just wanted to tell you.  Eh.  Did you see my car?”
    “Yeah.  What happened? Are you okay?” I asked, feigning concern.
    “Can you believe it?”
    TOM DO NOT ANSWER THAT QUESTION.
    “Believe what?” I stalled.
    “Labor day night?  Some kids stole my car! You saw what they did to it?” he said amazed at his own lies.
    “The tires?”
"The bushes."
    “Yeah!  They hit a curb.  Damaged the rims.  There was a regulator in the car...they had no idea what it was for so they just threw it in those bushes over there. They didn’t care.”  He pointed at this large seemingly impenetrable mass of vegetation across from our apartment.  
    “But you found it? In the bushes.  Where they threw it?” I asked hoping he would stop and realize just how stupid this story sounded.
    “Yes.  Thank God there is no body damage.  The frame is good.  It’s just the tires and the rims.  But I wanted to tell you to be careful.  Lock your doors.  Keep your car parked here where you can see it.”
The irony of this advice is on the night he said it was stolen by the roving band of hoodlums was where it was parked.  He was parked right next to my car.  Just goes to show you never know when and where paranoid alcohol induced delusions will strike.  
           The for sale sign is still on it.  The price has not budged.  You might want to wait a few days I am sure with a few more car washes those tires will fix themselves.