The Bard and Jester

Welcome Readers! Here you will find some real life experiences and musings that I'd like to share with you. So, come on in, if you have the time and I'll do my best to be entertaining... Please click on my sponsors' links!!! Established March 12, 2005.

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Location: New York, United States

I can be a clown, a poet, a fool, a romantic, a diplomat, a all depends upon the timing and circumstance.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Strange Neighbors & Events Of Our First Apartment PART 3: The New Neighbors

For Rent
Originally uploaded by vraven.
(continued from Part 2)

For a short time afterwards, my wife and I had some peace. And the complex was such a tranquil place without the Crachits.

Sometimes, as I passed beneath Lillian's 2nd floor window on my way to the parking lot, she'd call down to me, sometimes just to say hello, sometimes to ask for a favor.

One time in particular, she leaned out her window and said, "Peter! You have some packages on top of the mailboxes. They've been there for days, Love."

I had eventually given up trying to convince her that my name wasn't Peter. So, to Lillian, I would always be Peter.

Anyway, I frowned as I looked up at her. Packages? For days? But I checked the mail every day.

"Uh, okay," I said, "I'll go get 'em."

"Yeah. They've been there for days."


But there were no packages waiting for me...but then I remembered: about a few days ago, I did receive some packages, but I had picked them up right away.

Ah, well, there was a reason Lillian always wore a lunatic's grin.

My wife and I came back from a weekend trip to find that someone finally moved into the one bedroom apartment beneath us: a Muslim family, a husband and wife and their teenage daughter. We mostly saw the husband and we nicknamed him "Dad". On winter mornings, Dad would have his wife go out and warm up his car. And on snowy days, his wife and daughter would clean the accumulation off his car. They were the nicest and quietest of our neighbors.

Sadly, right after Septemember 11th, they moved out because Dad's wife claimed that their neighbors hated and harrassed them because they were Muslims. Which was nonsense as we were the only neighbors close by at the time and I had made sure to be extra nice to Dad whenever I saw him. They had probably used that as an excuse to break the lease without consequence. Either that or other people in the complex, beyond our immediate area, had given them the evil eye. God knows, there was a lot of xenophobic violence happening across the island during that terrible time.

Then came the day the Putana moved into the apartment vacated by the Crachits. Putana is an Italian word for whore/prostitute and the nickname my wife and I gave the young woman who was our newest neighbor.

She had inspired that name one afternoon when I was home and my wife was out and about. The Putana was outside, walking around in the shortest leather mini-skirt and patent leather thigh-high boots that glistened in the sunlight. Her tight shirt hugged the sleek contours of her body and was low cut, offering a view of cleavage that was difficult to miss.

Every so often this guy in a huge white pickup would visit the Putana and stay over for a few days. He had very short salt and peppered hair and one of those tiny, thin ponytails that went out of style back in the 80's. My impression was that he was a wannabe wiseguy, because he would always talk loudly on his cell phone as he paced back and forth outside the Putana's apartment, speaking like a caricature of a movie gangster. He had this odd way of walking, too, quick steps with his toes pointing out to the left and right, respectively, arms swinging widly...all with an attitude that said, "Hey, look! I'm a big shot. Can't you see what a big shot I am?"

One day, as I left work early and arrived at our apartment’s private entrance, a man called out to me. He was a big fellow, at least 6’5, with a crew cut and built like a linebacker.

"Excuse me," he said, as he came toward me. "I’d like to speak with you."

I shifted into a subtle defensive stance, one that, while looked casual, would put me in a better position to meet an attack…a habit learned from many years of martial arts training and Dad’s (my father, not the Muslim neighbor downstairs) lessons.

The big guy saw this and said, "Relax...I’m a police officer." He gestured to the shield clipped to his belt.

I relaxed.

The officer was looking for information about the Putana and any visitors. I told him that I really didn’t know her and then described the wannabe wiseguy with the white pickup truck. The police officer thanked me and left.

One night, a drunken older woman knocked on our door. She was looking for "John".

I frowned. "John? You've got the wrong apartment."

"Well, I'm his mother," the drunken woman said. "He stays with that girl, sometimes. I know he does. Is she up there?" The woman pointed past me, to the stairs leading up to my apartment.

"No, I'm sorry you've got the wrong apartment. My wife and I live here."

"Let me see your wife."

"Look, you've got the wrong apartment. Try over there." I pointed to the Putana's apartment and, thankfully, the drunken woman stumbled off and passed out of this tale.

Sometime after that, on a Saturday, as we waited for my sister and brother-in-law to arrive for a visit, I went to the parking lot to run an errand. The wannabe wiseguy was outside with a woman and child I had not seen before. As I passed them by, I heard him say, "Yo!"

Though I knew he was calling me, I ignored him and kept walking; I had no interest in speaking with him.

But the wannabe wiseguy came running after me, saying, "Yo! Yo!"

So, I stopped and put on a most unfriendly face. I shifted into that sublte defensive stance. "What?"

"Yo," he said again, "You know my old lady…Brooke?" He pointed to the Putana's apartment.

"No," I said.

"Yeah, well, the reason I asked was because I noticed that you look in our windows a lot."

This stunned me. What the heck was this about? I was no Peeping Tom.

I put on my meanest war face--my
"Eye of the Tiger" as my mom used to call it--and glared at the wannabe wiseguy.

Then I leaned a little toward him and asked, in a rough voice, "Why would I want to look in your windows?"

A sudden placating smile broke upon his face and he said, "Just thought I’d ask."

And then he actually turned and ran away, back toward the woman and child.

I breathed easy, relieved that there was to be no fight--I hate fights. So, I ran my errand and returned. I told my wife about the odd encounter with the wannabe wiseguy. My sister and her husband soon arrived and I told them about it as well. We all gave puzzled smiles and shook our heads, then forgot about it and commenced having our fun.

At about midnight, as my sister and brother-in-law headed out to their car, I went with them. I saw the wannabe wiseguy hurriedly moving stuff out of the Putana’s apartment.

A couple of days later, the Putana moved out.

We never saw her again, but we saw the wannabe wiseguy--her pimp, I now suspect--once more.

A day after the Putana vacated the apartment (we still thought of it as the Crachits’ place), my wife and I were watching TV when we heard the rumble of a suped-up engine slowly pass by. Then a moment later, we heard it again. The next time we heard the engine, we went to look out the window--being the nosey folks that we are. We saw the wannabe wiseguy roll slowly by in a shiny, restored 50’s Cadillac. He drove by one more time and then past out of our lives forever.

We would have two new neighbors, one of which would prove to be the final straw for us...and also, there was the Halloween night of broken glass.

(continued in Part 4 to come)