Of Fires and Felonies: Adventures in Apartment Living

Monday, July 30, 2012

I have spent literally years speculating as to what kind of characters my neighbors might be, often to great paranoia. In D.C., I suspected I lived next door to a serial killer who turned out to be a cop, & I later thought I lived next door to mafiosos who turned out to be Russians working night shifts. In New Hampshire, I was confident that the dude down the hall was a drug dealer; he actually had multiple sclerosis (so he smoked a lot of pot) & was going through a bad divorce (so he yelled a lot). In other words, time has taught me that my imagination is often far more dramatic than my neighbors' lives.

Tonight, the fire alarm went off in my new apartment building. Nathan & I were just finishing up a game of Scrabble with my mom, who's visiting for the week, when it started blaring in the hallway. After a couple seconds of calm confusion, we swooped up some personal items, like cell phones & purses - & in my case, put on a shirt that was not a wifebeater - & headed outside with the rest of the residents. Someone commented, "Glad to see our floor represented out here!" & I thought to myself that even if my floor was represented, I'd have no idea, because I've not met or even heard a peep from any of my neighbors since moving in.

Except the dude down the hall. He was leaving his apartment yesterday as I was stepping into the elevator, so I asked if he wanted me to hold the door; he said no, & that was the extent of our interaction.

But. BUT!

Tonight, as the firefighters let us back into the building, explaining that the alarm stemmed from a broken sprinkler head & not from a fire, I noticed a policeman standing in our hallway. I figured he was there because of the alarm situation, but as we opened the door to our apartment, I heard him pound on the neighbor's door. "Are you Brandon?" he asked when the door opened. After some quiet murmurs, I heard him say, "You know why I'm here, right?" followed by Brandon's, "You got a warrant?" The policeman said he did, & Brandon asked if he could retrieve his cell phone before what I can only assume was his arrest. Unfortunately, all the eavesdropping in the world could not reveal Brandon's criminal missteps, but I do know that he left quietly with Red Bank's finest.

You guys. For five years, I've been conjuring up anxiety-fueled scenarios of my neighbors' criminal habits. And today? Vindication. "I am right / I swear I'm right / I swear I knew it all along." I can't say I'm super jazzed to have a criminal neighbor (OK, OK, his infraction could be anything, I know), but... I am kind of super jazzed to have a criminal neighbor after all. Touché, New Jersey.

P.S.: My lawyer (errr, my law student friend) wants me to point out that "arrested on a warrant ≠ are a criminal (!)," so this is me pointing that out. I know that, of course, but being arrested on a warrant is still quite a step up from me simply imagining that bumps in the night = Patrick Bateman next door.

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