A Rude Awakening (Part 1)

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.

Minutes later, a heavy-set cop comes up our stairwell two steps at a time. After talking to the woman, he gives me a fleeting, reassuring smile. Then, he strolls over and pounds on Roger’s door.

“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.

Two months later, Roger is linked to still another police visit. But. this time, Roger might be forgiven. He isn’t even home when it begins.

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.


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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

  1. Loved this story, Judy. That first apartment was always sketchy back then.

    I may have to do a post on this, but my first place we had a next door neighbor have a dude “try” to sexually assault her. It didn’t happen thankfully.

    1. Michael, I’m sure that was scary.
      There’s more to follow on what happened after I moved away from home. Going from living in the country to a big city – Wow! At times, a real eye-opener.

    1. I’d have written sooner, but my hubby had to peel me off the ceiling after reading your comments. Thank you, Lisa. I really love your stories, so your compliment and encouragement are greatly appreciated. Please write me via e-mail about any recommendations you might have on where to proceed.

  2. Aargh, what a story. Was this in my current neighborhood, Judy? I seem to recall that at one time you lived on or near Schuler Street.

  3. Wow, crazy! I love the way you write. Oh, the stories I could tell about the apartments I’ve lived in over the years. This is a great idea for a future post, thank you!

    1. Thank you for the compliment, Darla. I love your stories as well.
      I’d love to hear about some of your apartment experiences. What I can say is I’ve had one or more incredible stories from every place I’ve lived in. Some of them, however, are better left unsaid. Lawyers might be waiting in the wings. 🙂

  4. You almost convinced me that I was reading a piece of fiction…not your personal experience. I would’ve said great thriller…until I remembered this was…your life.

    1. At the time, hugmamma, it was nerve-rattling and scary. Before that apartment, I’d lived a very sheltered life in the country. Still, there were times – even then – when I could laugh despite what was going on. You might agree when you read Part 2 coming up this weekend.

      1. …I’m shakin’ in my boots…with anticipation… 😉

        note from earthrider: Hang in there, hugmamma. Hate to leave you with a cliffhanger, but I suspect you’ll like it. 🙂

  5. Mom, well that is a freaky story and you really make people rethink the idea of living away from home..I think the moral of this story should be-all kids should move back in with their parents where they will be safe! Vern, Kitty and I will be over soon-we are packing our stuff as we speak.

      1. I’m having my birth certificate re-written, just to be on the safe side

        note from earthrider to my brother, Hank:
        Too late. Your niece knows where you live – and, I’ve given them airfare.

  6. * SHUTTER * I’m calling my son in a sec to make sure he’s okay in his apartment! 😉 This reminded me of one of my first apartments in Brooklyn, where a young kid pretended to hold me up with a gun in his jacket pocket as I was letting myself in I don’t think I told my mom about that one. Glad you were okay, Judy!!!

    1. I hope your son is doing OK, AA. That gun experience you had sure would have rattled me.
      When my girls left home, I cringed thinking about my own experiences. While I didn’t want them to go thru what I did, I knew I couldn’t shelter them forever.
      For my oldest, she initially worried every time she heard a noise at night in or just outside her apartment. My youngest had the worst experience when an F5 hit Moore (?), Oklahoma in 1999 when she was going to college near there. Very scary.

      1. An F5! We never know what we’ll have to worry about next as parents, but we know the worrying never ends! I hope she was okay!

        note from earthrider to Amiable Amiable: She cowered in her closet with her pet hamster until the F5 passed over. It was scary, but she was OK. Our problem was the lines were down for several days and we didn’t hear from her right away as a result. Thankfully, that’s over. Whoops – wait a minute – we all moved to Florida where there’s numerous hurricanes. 🙂

    1. AA, “shutter” may have been a Freudian slip. If used as something to shut out a bad experience, then it’s really the correct choice.
      Thanks for the giggle and for writing.

  7. I had to reread this to confirm it wasn’t fiction! Amazing story and beautifully narrated. Can see why it scared the kids 🙂

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