Friday, February 17, 2012

Neighbors I

Sam thinks I should write down these stories. Personally, I have my doubts.  I am not sure anyone will find them amusing and I am quite sure at least one of our neighbors is spying on us.
We moved into Whitewood Apartments in Long Branch. A ground floor one bedroom apartment which shares a building with three other apartments, two upstairs, two downstairs. Rent is considerably cheaper than apartments nearby.  But the best selling point was their pet policy - was they did not charge us to have a pet.  No non-refundable pet deposits.  No “pet rent”.  That’s because on the lease we signed it says, absolutely no pets allowed.  While the paper reads that, the person handing over the lease is giving us a wink and a nod.

It is not the complex owners we were concerned with it was the neighbors and other people.  Because people for the most part find the pull of being incredibly stupid-incredibly irresistible.  All it would take is one person, with nothing better to do, to make it their life’s mission to screw over someone because they are fractured broken suburban New Jerseyites.  

Because of this we opted for a six month lease.  

Living next door is a young couple Shane and Agatha who recently moved in with their newborn boy and pitbull. Above them, Bob, a man I have only come in contact with once. He is a former police officer who drives a unmarked white Ford police interceptor.  Living above Sam and I are Tony and Bonnie. A middle aged couple who I am quite sure are paid a stipend dependent on how many times they can walk from either end of their apartment each hour.  

I'd like to say I changed their names to protect their identities but they all have different names because despite meeting them several times, I simply cannot remember their names. I'd like to think this is a defense mechanism I picked up as a nurse.


My first and only contact with Bob, was when we first were moving in.  Sam and I were unloading a moving van into the apartment. Bob said hello to Sam and got as far as the stairs before he realized the polite thing to do was ask us if we needed help. I thanked him but then refused his help. It took only one refusal to get him to put his gloves back on and go upstairs. I know how unfortunate it is to feel compelled or obligated to help some when don't feel like helping at all.


One night walking Dante with Sam, I saw a woman in black pants with a black jacket going to throw garbage out in the dumpster at the end of our street.  She made a beeline back to her apartment above ours..
"Hello!" I said pleasantly interrupting her as she fumbled for her keys.
"What?" She said sheepishly, she had large glasses on with seemingly opaque lenses with plastic rims. The sort of glasses you put on and off quickly at a Lenscrafters just long enough to peek at a mirror to see how incredibly odd you might look to others.  
"Hello, my name is Tom and this is Sam. We're your downstairs neighbors."
"You're what?" She asked looking down at us over the balcony in front of her door. At this point Samlee has stopped Dante and started to walk over to me. I spoke even slower and pointed to all the nouns in my statement.
"I'm Tom. This is Sam. We live downstairs. I just want to say hi."
"Oh. Hi. Bonnie."
"Hi Bonnie. Nice to meet you." I lied.
"Yeah. You too."  
There was a long pause as we both waited to see if the other was going to say something.  I refused to flinch and walked away after giving her a friendly nod which I hoped demonstrated to her that this was indeed an awkward moment she helped cultivate.  I joined Dante who pulled Samlee over to the bushes which run along the side of the apartment building.
Over my shoulder, I did not hear any keys jingling. I did not hear a door open and close.
I whispered to Sam, "She is still there isn't she?"
Sam glanced over my shoulder.
"She is looking at us isn't she?"
"Oh yeah. Staring."
"Of course."

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