The Neighbor Who Wouldn’t Die by Alan Catlin
“Whoever it was said: ‘You can’t chose your neighbors’, must have known the guy who was living next door to us. Most nights, we were entertained by music cum noise that sounded roughly like squealing pigs at castration time, interspersed with a ritual sharpening of the instruments of torture.
I guess you could learn to live with that, I mean that’s what earphones and ear plugs are for. Some nights, we even got to looking forward to a respite, when he plugged in, Screaming and The Banshees, an all female group from the pits of the Sadomasochist strips in Amsterdam, performing their latest Live album.
What really put things over the edge, was when he started in rhythmically chanting CALL THE COPS. I’M OVER THE EDGE. CALL THE COPS, LIKE NOW! It would be awhile, before we figured out what the percussive instrument was he was using to emphasize his antiGregorian chant. I sort of had to know, just to satisfy my last latent, musician’s curiosity. It turned out to be a grand piano leg, a wise choice for the kind of attention he needed to attract.
Finally, someone obliged. It wasn’t us, mainly because we were mired in some kind of ennui, inertia thing that comes with constant lack of sleep and palliatives, like drugs and booze, that slow you down, but don’t always put you over the edge into a comatose state.
We could hear them knocking next door.
OPEN UP WE’RE THE POLICE. OH, THANK GOD, YOU’RE HERE, I THOUGHT YOU’D NEVER COME.OH, MY, GOD, YOU’RE NOT THE POLICE, YOU’RE JUST LIKE THE OTHERS, IMPOSTORS GET OUT GET OUTLISTEN HERE, PAL, WHAT’S IT TAKE TO CONVINCE YOU WE’RE THE COPS. I’LL TELL YOU WHAT WILL CONVINCE HIM, A COUPLE OF HOW DO YOU DO’S WITH MR. BILLY CLUB. LISTEN, PAL, SHUT THE HELL UP, YOU’RE BOTHERING PEOPLE, WE DON’T WANT TO BE HASSLED AGAIN
In some cities the cops would just have busted him around the head a few times, claimed he fell resisting arrest, have him shot up with enough tranquilizing darts to slow a rogue elephant and that would be end of it. But not in New York.
No sir, that would be too easy.
Way, too easy.
Pretty soon he starts in again: IF YOU DON’T CALL THE REAL COPS I’M GOING TO START FIRES AND KILL MYSELF.
By this time, I’m ready to yell: If you need matches, fire starter, kerosene, kindling, anything just let me know, three raps on the heating pipe with a piano leg would be all it takes.
To make a long story short, he must have had his own fire starting kit. By the next time, the boys in blue showed, he had two fully involved piles of broke furniture on opposite ends of the room and another pile fired and ready to go, in the middle.
There’s a lot to be said for secure firewalls, that’s for sure. Sound filtration might not have been one of their qualities, but, hey this was a fire and they worked just fine.
Meanwhile, he’s up to his old tricks getting naked next door screaming:
“I TOLD YOU NOT TO CALL THE IMPOSTOR COPS. IF SOMEONE DOESN’T CALL THE REAL COPS I’LL JUMP!”
BY now, there’s at least, four floors of people ready to push him, if he doesn’t go over on his own. Still, no one was really taking him all that seriously, as it’s fifteen stories up, which is still kind of high, even for a naked wacko, to practice swan diving from.
But, this guy was different. Way different. He took the dive, all fifteen stories of it and somehow he manages not to die. On top of that, he impales himself on the wrought iron fence downstairs and they have to cut the damned thing off him and he still isn’t dead.
You know, you or I, fall out of a window half that high and it’s Humpty Dumpty Time all the way. Rumor has it, the clown is recovering nicely in City Hospital and making inquiries about a newly refurbished vacant apartment on our fifteenth floor. I’m not taking any bets he doesn’t get it, either.