The Neighbor

Nothing builds street cred like old ladies.

img-thingIt was just after midnight. I was having the last cigarette of the night before bed. This entailed sticking my head out of the window. The window of the room I was renting from my aunt and uncle in the west village, New York City. They knew that I did this and were remarkably relaxed about it.

A warm September night, I looked out at the building across the street that I had stared at every few hours for the past year. As I contemplated waking up for a job I couldn’t stand in only six hours, I heard a window slide open. Suddenly and completely without warning, my midnight reprieve was broken, drenched in a wave of ice cold water. It rolled down my head and back leaving me utterly soaked.
“What the fuck?!” I yelled out into the air.

After throwing the soaking wet cigarette out into the night, I slammed the window shut. I grabbed a towel and walked into the living room while toweling off. My aunt was watching TV.
“Whoever lives upstairs just poured a bucket of water on my head.” I stood there waiting for an appropriate response from my aunt.
“Well, go talk to her. Also, she’s a little bit crazy.”
“Ok, I’ll be back.”

I stomped up the stairs in a rage, imagining a middle aged frigid bitch opening the door. She was the type of woman who would pour a bucket of water on someone’s head without ever asking them to stop smoking out their window. I entered the shared breezeway between her apartment and the other on the floor, my adrenaline pumping. In hindsight I should have probably knocked like a normal person, but I slammed on the door for all I was worth.

After less than ten seconds the door swung open. In the doorway stood a waifish elderly woman. She was not short but frail looking, thin and skeletal. A black satin nightgown hung limply from her shoulders. As I looked down I noticed that it was not nearly as long as I would have hoped. My next thought was, ‘why is a senior citizen wearing a black thong?’ Then I realized I was just happy that she at least had the thong on. Before I could speak, she did.
“How dare you barge into my home!” She yelled as she stepped towards me into the entranceway that was clearly not her home. Her gnarled hand went for my throat. She caught my neck and held on.‘What the fuck is going on?’ I thought to myself. I pulled her hand free as her nails drew blood. Then I spoke, or yelled really.
“Bitch, what the fuck are you doing? Why did you pour water on my head?” I struggled to hold the raging woman back.
“You come into my apartment and attack me?”
“What the hell are you talking about? I’m not in your apartment!”

She clawed at my arm, more blood. I pushed her against the wall with one hand as I pulled out my phone.
“Ok listen, if you don’t stop I’m calling the fucking cops.”
“No. Who do you live with?” She didn’t stop.
“You know where I live, you poured water on my head! I live with my aunt.”
“I’m going to go talk to your aunt.” She had stopped fighting but was still in my face. I let her go. I smiled now for the first time since my head had been drenched. My aunt was a barely five foot ball of Irish fury, this was going to be fun.
“Sure, be my fucking guest.” I followed her down to my apartment. She knocked on the door as forcefully as her old limbs would allow. My aunt opened the door almost immediately.
“Does he live with you?”
“Yes. What’s the problem?”
“He came into my apartment and attacked me.”I chimed in.
“What are you fucking talking about? You came into the hallway and grabbed me by the throat!” I held up my hand with some blood on it to show my aunt.
“What happened?”
“She scratched me up a little bit.” My aunt’s polite smile disappeared. She looked like she was on the brink of murder.

“Go inside.” I walked past the two women and watched from behind the doorway. “What did you do?” My aunt was not taking this lying down.
“He attacked me. Maybe you should choose your tenants more carefully.”
“My tenant? That’s my fucking nephew. And you threw water on his head. Who raised you?” The neighbor stepped back, looking much less sure of her position. She tugged her satin nightgown down a bit to cover her wrinkly rear end.
“I put up with all your kids smoking for years like that and never said anything.” The argument did nothing to calm my raging aunt.
“If you. Ever. Touch. My. Family. Again. You will be very fucking sorry.” She stepped forward with every word, as the neighbor backed up further and further out of the hallway. The neighbor opened her mouth to respond as my aunt finished. Before she could get a word out my aunt slammed the door shut in her face. In fact, I’m surprised it didn’t hit her on the nose.

My aunt walked into the kitchen and poured herself a small glass of wine. She placed it on the dining room table and sat down, still gritting her teeth.
“The nerve of that fucking woman!” She pounded down the glass of wine as punctuation. I sat down across from her.
“So I probably shouldn’t smoke out that window anymore huh?”
“That might be smart.”
“Well thank you. And sorry for that shit.”
“Is it your fault that she’s a crazy bitch?”
“Well I guess not.” I laughed. “Alright, I’m going to bed.” I walked down the hallway and back into my room. I took off my shirt, opened the window and pulled out a cigarette. And you better believe I blew that smoke up towards her window as much as I could.

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