By Judy Berman
My first apartment. I now understand why parents have sleepless nights.
It seems like an excellent choice, even though the home, which is converted into apartments, reminds me of the house on the hill behind the Bates Motel in “Psycho.” Rent is affordable. I can walk to work and save bus fare.
My third-floor walk-up, one-room apartment is quiet. That changes when a tenant moves in across the hall.
Roger is almost a myth. Let’s just say that Dracula makes more daytime appearances than he does. I rarely see Roger, and when I do, it is usually just his back as he is about to enter his apartment.
One incredibly hot June night, my apartment is like a sauna. So I leave my door open to let in what little breeze lingers in the hallway.
I am reading when I hear someone coming up the stairs. It’s Roger and a woman is with him. Roger is a quiet man who has never spoken a word to me. He’d brought a woman home with him once before. Nothing unusual, I think. Still, I close my door for privacy.
Within 15 minutes, I hear the muffled sounds of an argument across the hall. Then, there is a knock on my door.
From the window in my door, I see the woman who Roger brought home. She looks upset.
She asks if she can use my phone to call the cops because Roger kicked her out and won’t let her get all her belongings.
Her cool demeanor changes after she makes the call. The woman races across the landing and kicks a crack in Roger’s door.
I just stand there in shock, clutching my poodle. Paris is no guard dog. He’s quaking almost as much as I am.
While I’m still trying to regain my composure, my downstairs neighbor steps out into the hallway. Eva heard the commotion, and wondered what’s going on.
“You’re puffing up my ulcer, Roger,” the officer bellows.
That’s all the convincing Roger needs. As he cautiously opens his door, I join Eva downstairs in her apartment. A grandmotherly type, in her late-50s or early-60s, she makes tea to calm our nerves.
“I swear I’ve never seen anything like that,” Eva says, “and I’ve lived here for five years.”
As we try to draw comfort from one another, we see someone climbing the fire escape next to Eva’s window. This is particularly unsettling because the fire escape ends outside my apartment.
Short hair. Masculine jowl.
“Hey, fella,” I yell. “Where do you think you’re going?”
The intruder ignores me and continues to climb the fire escape. The second time I yell, the “fella” turns, snarls and informs me in extremely profane language that she is a lady and not a fella.
I’d disagree on the “lady” part, but I’m not about to argue.
When I look closer, I realize it was the woman who’d been in Roger’s apartment. Apparently. when the cop took her away to end the squabble, he just dropped her off at the corner. She returns. looking to get a piece of Roger, but thinks better of it when she realizes she’s been spotted. The woman scurries back down the fire escape and runs off.
I’m hot. I race downstairs. I’m not even sure why. If I ran into the “fella,” well, I’m not sure I would be here to tell this story.
Roger is outside. sitting on the bottom step. He sits there, dejectedly, holding his head in his hands.
“You ought to be more selective about the type of person you bring home,” I say indignantly.
Poor, bleary-eyed Roger looks at me, as if through a haze, and watches as I storm off.
That’s all the wake-up call I need to find somewhere else to live. The rent may be affordable, but my peace of mind is worth a lot more.
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Photo: Queen Anne-style home seen in the movie “Psycho” and the video clip “Thriller” – author: Laëtitia Zysberg. Date April 22, 2012 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/87/Sanders_House%2C_1345_Carroll_Avenue_%28_1887_%29.JPG/450px-Sanders_House%2C_1345_Carroll_Avenue_%28_1887_%29.JPG
Photo: This is a photo of Ray Simpson of the Village People (not of the officer who responded to the incident at my first apartment). Taken at Asbury Park, N.J., on June 3, 2006, by Jackie of Monmouth County ,N.J. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4e/Village_People-Cop.jpg/289px-Village_People-Cop.jpg
Photo: This photo, taken January 2008, is of a Delran, N.J., police car – not the one that responded to the incident at my first apartment. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/13/Delran%2C_New_Jersey_police_car.jpg/320px-Delran%2C_New_Jersey_police_car.jpg