Life on the third floor with a ghost is unsettling.
Sightings of my neighbor, Roger, become even more scarce after the incident of the angry woman who attempts to confront him by using the fire escape that ends at my window. (read: Part 1 – A Rude Awakening. Link below story)
But trouble seems to find a way to ensnare him – and me – again.
One Saturday evening in late summer, a stranger knocks on my door. I pull back the curtain on my door’s window, and eye him warily.
No one, not even salesmen, will venture up the winding staircases, especially at night, unless they are visiting one of the tenants. The man, I’ll call him Caruso, wants to get hold of Roger. Roger’s not home, so Caruso asks to use my phone.
I grudgingly agree.
I must be certifiable.
Now, this guy is inside my tiny apartment. He tries to engage me in small talk. No dice. He tries to play with my dog, Paris. Paris, a small, gray French poodle, looks to me for guidance and then, intuitively, backs away from the man.
I tell Caruso it’s time to go, and he does without comment.
Whew! That’s the end of that, I think. But I am wrong. Caruso is back again 30 minutes later. This time I ignore his persistent rapping. Caruso begins to sing “O Sole Mio” – in the original Neapolitan language. I pull the curtain aside and tell him, again, to leave.
Calling the cops didn’t seem to be an option, given what happened with fire-escape woman who had kicked in Roger’s door just about two months ago. After all that, she is just escorted to the nearest corner and released. Besides, what am I going to tell them? Some guy is singing outside my door? Nah!
After Caruso leaves, I call another tenant, Tommy, and tell him about the nuisance visitor. Tommy says he hasn’t seen the guy in the building and invites me to join him and his friends at the Poorhouse, a bar and hangout.
I seize the opportunity to avoid Caruso and his serenades. We walk to the bar. Another snag. You have to be 21 to even enter. At the time, I am 22, but I have no I.D. Sorry.
So Tommy, ever the protective big brother, walks me back home. Then, he returns to the Poorhouse. I decide to call it a night.
About 1 a.m., another knock on the door.
“Not again,” I mutter groggily as I get up from my sofa bed.
“It’s the police,” a deep-voiced man announces. “Please open the door.”
I look out the window and, bless him; it is the police – more than one. He asks me if I’d been bothered by a man earlier that evening. I say “yes,” and the officer wants me to go downstairs with him to identify a suspect who broke into a first-floor apartment.
It turns out Caruso was going between our apartments by using a back hallway. It’s the first time I realize there is a back hallway between the second and third floors. This explains why Tommy never saw Caruso walk past his apartment that’s in the front half of the run-down house our apartments are in.
Caruso is caught after he creeps into the girls’ apartment. When one of them awakes and sees him, she screams. Her roomies tackle Caruso and hold him down until the police arrive.
We all go to the police station to file a complaint. The cops and girls laugh as I describe the “O Sole Mio” serenade – complete with the singing. But my smile quickly fades when I see Caruso leave the building with his attorney. Great! Caruso’s out on bail, and I’m still stuck at the police station filing reports.
When I return home, who’s outside our apartment building? Caruso, of course. Don’t they always return to the scene of the crime? This time, Roger’s with him.
The girls don’t want to stick around, and invite me to join them at the beach. Sure. Glad to escape this madness.
At the beach, a good 30 miles from our apartment, we see Caruso’s attorney. I’d recognize that slicked-back hair a block away. He doesn’t approach us, but his presence certainly puts a damper on our outing.
I hear later that the charges against Caruso were dropped. The girls downstairs moved away. But Caruso still has another visit on his agenda – and, perhaps, a score to settle.
Maybe Caruso didn’t know a new set of tenants moved into that first-floor apartment. It’s late at night when he forces open the door to their apartment, pushing a bed and the girl in it across the room.
I’m told her screams could be heard in the next county. I was out of town and learn about the break-in when I return. I shudder. All I have for protection between me and any intruder is a flimsy door with a window in it and my faint-hearted French poodle.
Finally, I find a new place to live. But it has problems of its own.
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* man singing opera
* police – arrest – 1973 (photo not connected to arrest at my apartment)
* clock in the departure board in the main station in Hannover,Germany
* link to: A Rude Awakening (Part 1)