Won’t you be my neighbor?

Anne Rice moved in next door. Like a young Anne Rice. The Anne Rice that staged her fake funeral in New Orleans. By no coincidence, my new neighbor has Louisiana plates and I heard Fleetwood Mac playing from her apartment.

Before her, a forty-something Russian Patton Oswalt let that apartment. He hardly spoke English and rarely wore a shirt, proudly exhibiting his roundness. He worked nights as a driver and he regularly scraped and bumped his black Escalade against the wall, the pole and other cars.

The summer I moved in, his alcoholic, chain-smoking cousin, who strangely resembled a homeless Adrien Brody, slept on his couch. I can’t be sure that it was in fact his cousin, but the loud cyrillic yelling made me think my neighbor was pleading for this deadbeat to get a job.

That fall, Cousin Balki-Brody eventually moved out and immediately plunged into a life of crime. I know this, not because I breezed through Conversational Russian at Valley College, but because I applied my Miami Meter for Shady Neighbor Behavior and deduced that our favorite cousin had pulled a Scarface.

A few weeks after his move, his alleged cousin rolled up to apartment 9 wearing a bedazzled button-down shirt and thick gold bracelets. A few weeks after that, Al Putino had newly acquired a petite girlfriend who, I assume to the disapproval of his mother, was not Russian. This girl, whose name was most likely not Andrusha, would chauffeur him for his visits in a late-model SUV. And a few weeks after that, packages of large appliances began arriving at Chubby Tchaikovsky’s place with the same regularity of the cousin’s visits.

Throughout the winter, a refrigerator, a stove, a washer and dryer, flooring, and ceiling tiles made their way to different corners of our complex. They were not for the property manager, for she only makes appearances when there is a vacancy, they were for my neighbor. He often hid these large items in our community laundry room, in our shared parking garage, in his apartment and even in my apartment (the UPS guy guilted me into accepting delivery of three wall air conditioners when he wasn’t home). Eventually the cousin stopped making appearances, and a new tribe of young KGB-rejects began taking delivery of the Home Depot loot. Muscles under deep v-neck shirts, hidden eyes behind dark sunglasses and sweaty testicles squished by very skinny jeans lifted boxes onto trucks and whisked it all away, week after week.

One Saturday morning, I got one hell of a 3 a.m. wake up call that consisted of two quick, shallow bangs and a crash of glass. I peered out the window, but couldn’t see a thing in the darkness. It wasn’t until my morning dog walk that I discovered it had come from Boris Yeltsin’s Escalade. The entire back window was busted and millions of tiny pieces of glass were splayed across the concrete like shiny confetti.

I struggled with whether or not to knock on his door. Our conversations were limited to hellos. In the five months of being neighbors, he had knocked on my door twice, once for salt (which is supposed to bring the recipient terrible luck) and another time for duct tape (which I told him to keep, in case he gave it back with a dead person’s DNA). Yet, I felt obliged to be a good human and deliver the bad news. After knocking several times, he emerged, shirtless and covering his telephone with his man-boob. I said loudly, “Just wanted to check. You know about your car, right?” He answered yes twice and shut the door. And with that I was convinced the shattered glass was a failed hit against Beer-belly Baryshnikov.

A month later, he knocked on my door again. It was late. Maybe around nine, which is the equivalent of midnight in California. He was sweating, red and agitated. He began by apologizing profusely and then asked me for $20. I sent him away empty handed. Mainly because I didn’t have cash on me, but even if I did, I don’t think I would’ve given it to him. I wanted him as far away from my front door as possible in case Valery the Russian from The Sopranos was creeping around the corner.

I went to sleep that night anticipating to be woken up by a muffled argument, then the loud sound from a television, followed by the blast of a gunshot, but quite the opposite happened. The next morning there was a moving truck and before my coffee was brewed, he was nothing more than a missing Romanov. His apartment empty and the property manager  on the premises.

“I am very sad to see Vlad go,” she said.

Of course his name was Vladimir. Of course those appliances were not a complicated scheme to bill Medicare or resell behind the Brandsmart in Carol City. No. Clearly those were for him and his new place (which may or may not be a grow house). And his window wasn’t smashed in as a warning, but most likely it was his own doing because he is a shitty driver. And he was probably short $20 to pay the mover and not the mobster. And his cousin is just a dick.

I realized I was wrong and that growing up in 1980’s Miami has clouded by objectivity.

However, I’m incredibly certain that the new lady next door has already begun assembling her coven, and quite possibly purchasing chickens for sacrifice.



Across from the guy downstairs: Scream 3

“(1)Do you know of any hospitals around here? In Doral? (2)I’ve called all the Hospitals in Hialeah and he’s not in any of them. (3)My son was hit by a car in Hialeah. You know my son? The one with all the tattoos? (4)He was walking home from his uncle’s house. Do you know where the KFC is? He was hit there. (5)His cousin called me to tell me. (6)You know I don’t drive. (7)I took his phone away because he was skipping school and now I can’t call him.”

I thought about many things while the tuba lady played her sad song to my partner, who was fittingly standing on a balcony during the loud serenade. I thought about yelling again. I thought about walking out there. I thought about how I would handle it if Iris would try to convince me to help this woman. But none of that would be necessary. Apparently, Iris couldn’t run back in the house fast enough. I believe her response was, “Oh. Wow. No, there are no hospitals here. Good luck with that.” And by the time she actually said, “Good luck with that,” she was already inside the apartment, locking the sliding glass door behind her.

I was really glad to see her give me the, what-the-hell-just-happened look.

What happened was, quite simply, that she was almost a victim of this woman’s bullshit. It was all a blatant lie. Probably in the hopes to get a ride somewhere. If you don’t want to believe that, well, then the son had his cousin lie to his mother so he could disappear for a few days and impregnate some more underage girls. But, someone was lying because the story was a complete fabrication and here’s why:

1. There are no hospitals in Doral. Baptist Hospital has an urgent care center and so does Miami Children’s. Urgent care centers do not accept ambulances, especially if they are transporting trauma patients. But why should she know where the local hospitals are? She’s just a mom and a caregiver for a special needs child.

2. There are two hospitals in Hialeah with somewhat decent emergency rooms. So, she called all two hospitals in Hialeah, but not the number one trauma hospital internationally known as Jackson Memorial Hospital. I mean, it’s just her son.

3. The next morning I checked the newspaper. I checked online. I checked everywhere. There was no such accident reported in Hialeah. And yes, we know your son. He’s the reason we don’t open our front door after 11:00 at night.

4. By car, it takes about 12 minutes, using the Palmetto Expressway, to get to that KFC. On foot it must take at least two hours.  Can’t his uncle drop him off? Can’t he take the bus?

5. If his cousin was bright enough to call about the catastrophic accident, couldn’t that same cousin find out what hospital he was going to? Also, wouldn’t the cousin also inform his own father, who happens to be the victim’s uncle and your brother of the occurence? Can’t you call your brother? Your son was just at his house.

6. Ding, ding, ding!

7. Well, if he’s unconscious, it doesn’t matter. I can only imagine that if he was conscious he would’ve asked to borrow someone’s phone to call you. If he wanted to. But, I’m thinking he doesn’t want to talk to you – just like we don’t.

The next morning I received a phone call from the neighbor across from me. You know the one that didn’t open the door. He, of course, heard everything and was calling to make sure we knew that the story she told was total crap. I told him not to worry. He told me that he’s had it with those people. That he can’t take the screaming  anymore. So, he’s decided to get out, even if it costs him to foreclose, but he has to move his family out of there.

Those poor people are right on top of the screaming. All day and all night. If I can hear it my apartment, they must hear it in high definition.

All this made me think that the guy downstairs must really regret having his “investment” property across from the Scream family. Ah, see, there is justice.

This concludes the three-part series on the neighbors that live across the guy downstairs. Now, don’t you wish you lived here?

Across from the guy downstairs: Scream

Remember the three-part series I did about the guy that lives downstairs? Well, this is the three-part series on the family that lives across from that guy.*

Across from the guy downstairs lives a single mother with a special needs toddler. To no fault of the child, the toddler screams all day. All day.Long sustained screams.

The single mother also screams. All day. She screams at her twin 17-year old boys for not going to school, for not having jobs, for getting a girl pregnant, for leaving the fence open, for coming home, for not coming home, for things that I can’t understand…you get the picture.

The two boys are biologically the same age, but physically look like one is older than the other. The older looking twin is as thin as a rail. He only wears wife-beater tank tops, I suppose to show off his arms. Not that they are muscular. I believe Michelle Obama has pythons compared to his itty bitty arms. He doesn’t wear a shirt to show off all his jail house tattoos**. This boy is already a father and regularly calls his Baby Momma. I know this because he only calls her when he’s standing outside in the middle of his backyard. I believe he does this so he could scream at her at the top of his lungs, without interrupting the screaming that is already happening inside.

The first time I came face to face with this twin, I was walking toward my car and he was just coming toward the building. I did a quick full body scan and looked him square in the eyes. He quickly turned his face to spit on the ground and kept walking past me.



But, hey, it’s buy one gross and scary and get the second gross and scary free. Luckily, his twin is gross and scary in the circus kind of way.

The other twin boy is smaller that his brother. He looks 14 in age. And although he is always fully dressed, his clothes are insanely big on him. I understand the fashion, but this is literally pants-on-the-ground. He actually cinches his pants under his butt, around his thighs. The seam that marks where t-shirts fall on a man’s shoulder really hang below his elbows. It’s as if he’s a regular sized man in Shaq’s clothes.

His voice is still changing. I know because he…no he doesn’t scream…he sings, well, no, he raps all day. He raps loudly. He likes to rap under the staircase that leads to my apartment. I imagine because of the echo. So, his middle-of-puberty voice that sounds like a loose snare drum is amplified throughout the hallway, throughout my home.

All this happens downstairs. All day, everyday.

Until last night. When downstairs came upstairs.

I’ll tell you all about it in my next entry, “Across from the guy downstairs: Scream 2”

*Note: Although it is not necessary to read “The guy downstairs” series from back in January to understand this new series, you may find the background information helpful.

**You know, jail house tattoos: a spiderweb, a skull and crossbones, a couple of names, all scattered throughout, where ever there is space.