Across from the guy downstairs: Scream 2

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The four-hundred pound, single mother of twin 17-year old boys and caregiver of her drug addicted daughter’s special needs child made her way upstairs.

Thirteen steps.

Boom. She spends all day at home. Boom. Sometimes she walks out to her backyard. Boom. If the neighbors across from me happen to be out on their balcony, she tries to strike up a conversation. Boom. So, I know these facts about her life. Boom. Because, it’s not really a conversation. Boom. It’s a screaming recital of all her problems. Boom. Her voice sounds like the highest note on a tuba. Boom. Lots of air pushes through to make a short sound. Boom. She might as well have been a tuba player, she walks around like she has one strapped on to her body. Boom. Which is why, I believe, she can’t use the washing machine upstairs. Boom. Because she can’t make it up the stairs with a laundry basket. Boom. So, she washes everything by hand and hangs it, not on a clothesline, but on her fence. Boom.

It’s while she does this that she screams her life story to whoever is sitting in the balcony. I heard how all her family turned their back on her. How she’s all by herself with these children with no support system. That her daughter ran-off with some guy, instead of focusing on her recovery, and abandoned her child. I heard how she had to get rid of her car. I heard enough, frankly.

I heard enough to understand that this woman was a stage five moocher, first-class woe-is-me queen, a master manipulator, and a border-line crazy that can either snap or die at any moment.

I’m serious.

These are the types of people who you open your home and your heart to because you figure they’re having a rough time and discover that they are vampires – and not the sexy kind. These suck you dry of your compassion and empathy and money and patience – and time. By the time they are done with you, they’ve ransacked your house, raided your fridge, raped your dog and clogged the toilet.

It was 11:00 at night. I wasn’t about to let anyone in my house and certainly not her. But there she was, upstairs, in my territory. From my living I can feel her staring at my door. I wondered if she could feel me, staring right back.

She had already knocked on my neighbor’s door a couple of times, but they didn’t answer. I was committed to the same approach. She was going to have to beat down my door, because I was not getting up from my chair.

Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock

Excuse me, but who the hell knocks on a neighbor’s door five times at eleven o’clock at night – for the first time. This is the first official contact she’s ever made and it’s a crappy first impression, only excusable if it was truly an emergency. But, I can tell already, it’s not. If it was a real emergency, she would just call 911. In the time it took her to get upstairs, first responders would’ve been submitting their incident reports. And, if her phone was dead, she would’ve yelled for help from downstairs. We all would’ve heard her.

So, I was pretty comfortable to just ignore the knocking, just like my neighbor, and ignore the crazy. My partner, however, not so much.

“What are we going to do?” She whispered.

“Nothing.” I mouthed.

Until…

KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK.

And, I snapped. Like a crazy werewolf. How dare anyone knock on my door that way. As if the door represented my shoulder and I was being shoved into a fight. I sat up on the edge of my chair, enraged like a juice-head Guido defending my skanky girlfriend’s honor and I barked the most intimidating, foaming-at-the-mouth version of, “WHO IS IT?” that has ever been uttered by a woman.

And then, the tuba played.

“Uh. Hi. This. Is. Your. Neigh.bor.From.Down.Stairs.”

Silence.

As I was about to say, “It’s 11 o’clock at night, please come back tomorrow,” my partner covers my mouth and gives me the look. The look of the responsible adult. The there-could-be-something-really-wrong look. The don’t-be-an-asshole look. The if-you-would-get-a-real-job-maybe-we-could-move-from-this-dump look.

So, I blinked. Which translated into you can remove your hand over my mouth so you can handle this your way. And she did.

She went out to the corner of the balcony, where the front door to our apartment is visible and there we heard the most convoluted story about one of her sons getting hit by a car in Hialeah and wanted to know if we knew of any hospitals where he might be in Doral.

Did you say,” Huh?” So, did I.

Look out for her full story and a fact check/common sense check of it tomorrow.

If you haven’t noticed, you are in the middle of a three-part series. Don’t be scared. It’s like walking into a two-some and being invited.

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