The thumping overhead is keeping me awake. Well, the thumping is preventing me from finding sleep, is more accurate. The thumping is footsteps, most of what I heard as I was reading in bed and now as I am typing at 126 am are footsteps. Now that my wife and son are asleep I heard a few muffled voices, something rolling around on the floor. I am not a detective. I cannot decipher the actions taking place upstairs. And that has left me awake, in a protective, aware state of mind. Which is probably silly. My wet-brain co-landlord is drying out in a facility until the 20th of January, some 18 days from now. This according to said landlord’s former roommate, who I heard talking as he climbed the stairs to the second floor apartment. Each time there was mayhem, his voice was the sober one. When I went upstairs to hand over a check to the co-landlord to repair the two ceiling leaks (one is each bedroom) it was this roommate, wearing nothing but a bath towel around his waist, who let me in on the score about the guy who I was supposed to be handing over $1400 of our hard earned cash to.
“He went away.”
“Away…like, to jail, away?”
“Nah. Like he’ll be back in 11 days.”
Oh. Like my landlord is in detox, away. Then, the bottom line.
“He’s a good kid, but he’s trying to get someone to put him out of his misery, and I told him it ain’t gonna be me…I’m getting out of here. I’m not trying to tell you what to do, bud, but I suggest you do the same.”
In the middle of all that he mentioned that the leaks had been there three years ago when he lived in the apartment we now occupy.
Great. Appreciate the honesty. Really. The roommate was gone when all hell broke loose a couple weeks ago and water was pouring in through the ceiling in the laundry room on a clear-skied day, when I was forced to call the cops and fire department who found the co-landlord and some junkie cohort on the tail end of a bender, living with shit, actual human fecal matter, on their beds and the floor of the bathroom where the source of the deluge into my apartment was discovered, the toilet.
So why is he back? Who is with him upstairs? I have no reason to suspect the loud footfalls moving back and forth across my ceiling are anything but innocent. But I’m not comfortable losing consciousness until the noise quits.
It’s disturbing how not disturbed I am by the thoughts a night such as this inspire. If plans of malicious intent are being hatched, and if parties were to act on them and tried to gain entry into the dwelling I share with my wife and son, what then? The dog will let me know if someone tries to get in, right? Why isn’t there a gun in the house? (to answer the question of using the theoretical gun if that’s what the situation called for: technical knowhow aside, yes, I could aim the barrel and squeeze the trigger and feel little to no remorse. That is as honest a statement as I can make, not some masculine chest beating. I would be sacrificing the life of someone else in preservation of my own as much as I would be fulfilling some sort of protector role.) But since I don’t have a gun, what I am I actually capable of? Are my bare hands enough to stop, one, two grown men? Is escape the better option?
Why am I even entertaining these possibilities outside the abstract in the first place?
The change in temperament and security from our last apartment to the present one features a gap wider than the talent level on display at the local CYO basketball game and a contest at the Garden between the Celtics and the Bulls. Monumental, in case basketball isn’t your thing. Too expansive a chasm to be believed, yet it exists, and all that negative space and the degree of uncertainty it brings is wearing on the two adult members of our little trio. The youngest affiliate, he who is most vulnerable, remains unaware.
The co-landlord that lives in the tony Floridian zip code, brother to he who was upstairs, the one who receives the rent check, last week opened the letter from the department of health worker who inspected the place after the Great Flood and deemed our lease fit to break. He asked what was going on. After detailing the multiple visits by the police, fire and emergency medical officials, the unfixed leaks, the torrent from above and subsequent impressment and confinement, I had to break it to this guy that his brother was huffing paint in the basement. That was news I was made to run.
Besides bodily harm, the worst crime anyone can commit is including you in their familial conflicts.
It is now 207 am. The creatures on the upper level have ceased their stirrings. Is it safe to go back to bed?
Hello, 2012. Nice to meet you.