An Upstairs Curse

Maybe curse is a little harsh. Let’s call it bad luck, on and off for the past two years, with our upstairs neighbors. First was a little meatball of a Latino man in his mid 20s, with a primer’d Mitsubishi that had a racing fin on the back of it twice the size of the actual car, and wavy hair that was shaved around the back and sides and poofy on top, like a mushroom. In hindsight, he wasn’t totally terrible or evil. He was just the one guy, out of all of his friends, who seemed to be doing well enough to actually be able to spend $800 a month on his own apartment. And for that reason, his apartment became party central for him and his circle of friends. He worked during the week, so the parties were relegated to the weekends. But man, once the weekend came, they raged from Friday night to Sunday night, without going to sleep at all. Music, dancing, wrestling and more dancing, for 48 hours straight. We called the cops once, probably around 5 in the morning. They came, it quieted down for about 20 minutes, and then the party picked up again. Luckily, he left about six months into our one-year lease. And it was quiet from then on out.

Then we moved. And things were quiet. The man above us lived alone and drew freehand sketches of people and places around New York City. He was creepy, but quiet. Once, we found out that he asked a friend of ours if he could draw her naked. But then he left, telling us he was moving into a homeless shelter because he couldn’t afford rent. And we haven’t seen him since.

But then the current upstairs neighbor arrived. She offers up the usual aggravations, like not separating recyclables and never taking out the trash. But then she and her boyfriend got weird in a weird, weird way. One night, I was looking out the window watching the neighborhood cats squabble when I heard them descending the stairs around 11:30 PM. They walked onto the sidewalk in front of the house, he motioned liked he was vomiting, and then they hugged. On the sidewalk, for about two to three minutes in 40 degree weather. They do weird shit like that almost every night, usually after 11 PM.

From what we can gather, they’re students. The space they live in can’t be bigger than 200 to 300 square feet. The other day, three guests arrived to stay with them. Five people in a very small space, possibly talking about how the boyfriend is so funny because he can fake vomit better than almost anyone. Then it got weirder. The other day, the girl and her family were getting off the PATH train just when I was, around 6:40 PM. I noticed them exiting the train, mainly because it was hard not to notice them. They were the only three people on the train wearing swine flu masks.

And then last night happened.

Our house has an additional dead bolt on the front door that no one has a key to. Not us, not the downstairs neighbors and not the upstairs neighbors. We were all told by the landlord, “Don’t lock this. We don’t have the key.” The upstairs neighbor, a few times now, has locked it, while we’re out of the house, locking us out of the house. They do things like this all the time, completely oblivious to everything around them.

So I’m out late last night and arrive home around 2:30 in the morning. The door is dead bolted shut. I am locked out of my own house. I call the police, explain the situation, and am told that they can’t legally do anything. Their advice is to try to wake up whomever might be in the house. So I start scrambling for rocks to throw at the upstairs neighbor window.

Eventually, she wakes, opens the window, and threatens to call the police. I tell her that I already have, explain that she dead bolted the door and that she needs to open it up. She tells me to ask the downstairs neighbors to open it, and how dare I wake her and her family. She asks my name, says she’s never seen me here and to go away. I say, “Look, there are a lot nicer places to break into around here than your 200-square foot apartment. I unfortunately fucking live here.”

At this point, I get mad. And curse. And tell her to come downstairs and open the fucking door. And eventually, she concedes. She tells me that I’m rude for waking them, I tell her to eat shit and stop playing God with the door. Then I grab a Phillips head screwdriver, walk back downstairs and take the dead bolt in question out of the door.

I’ve never really understood the expression ‘The Straw That Broke The Camel’s Back.’ Mainly because I haven’t really spent any time around camels. So instead, I’ll apply the Arab concept to beer and say that last night was the drop of beer that made the pint glass overflow. And because of that, we’ve decided to move yet again. Hopefully into a top floor apartment. Hopefully away from any taboo dead bolts. Now that I think about it, I should really offer this apartment to our former upstairs neighbor with the mushroom haircut and the Mitsubishi.

But now, without further adieu, comes the hallway awkwardness.

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