I think my next-door neighbor died.
Now before you get all, “aww that’s so sad,” on me, I should warn you, he was basically Mr. Heckles from Friends.
But meaner. He was mean and cranky and used to slip anonymous and insulting notes under my door saying that my tv was too loud and he was going to report me. Of course, I got one of those notes when I hadn’t even been home for several days one time, so I so don’t think that my tv was actually that loud.
He’s also the reason why my dog, Rosie, had to wear a bark-control collar that shocked her when she barked. He’d left a note under my door saying that he was tired of listening to her crying in the morning after I left for work and if I didn’t do something about it, he was going to report me.
I went out that day and spent $100 on a shock collar, then left him a note saying that I’d taken care of it. The next day I got a letter from the condo association saying that I needed to get Rosie’s barking under control.
Because he told on me the same day he issued the warning.
Clearly, he was not my favorite person in the world.
In fact, whenever I talked about him, I usually would conclude with something along the lines of “God, he’s so awful, why doesn’t he just go die already?”
Which is why I felt pretty bad when I came home from school three weeks ago and saw ten paramedics who weren’t in a hurry and who all took the time to talk to me and pet Rosie before going into his apartment. They didn’t tell me what happened, and I didn’t want to be creepy and stand out in the hall, but logically, if the paramedics were going to someone who was alive, they A) wouldn’t need that many of them, B) would be hurrying instead of flirting with me, and C) wouldn’t want dog on their hands.
Ergo, he is dead.
And the worst part is that my first reaction wasn’t to feel bad. It was to assume that Rosie had tunneled through the wall Shawshank Redemption style and killed him to retaliate for the bark collar situation.
My second thought was that now I can watch tv as loud as I want. Which was pretty fantastic. Because it was a Tuesday. Glee was on.
THEN I felt bad.
And I realized that I’m pretty much going to hell.
I’m also not looking behind any of the pictures in my apartment in case Rosie DID dig a tunnel through the wall. If she’s guilty, I’d rather not know.
But I started thinking about it. I’d spent a lot of time and energy wishing him dead. So if Rosie DIDN’T kill him, it means I did. With my mind. Which, if I can channel that power, would be awesome. I decided to test this theory out and spent a few minutes concentrating on the thought, “I REALLY wish Bruce Springsteen would show up at my door.”
Unfortunately, that didn’t work. I think I need to practice with this power if I want to use it for good (or for evil—muahahahaha).
But until then, I'm never saying that I hope anyone dies ever again, even when I'm kidding.
A lot of people have been asking me why I don’t just go knock on his door and see if he’s alive. Which I would probably do if he wasn’t such a crotchety old codger.
But right now, my desire to not have any interaction with him is slightly greater than my desire to know if he died or not. So I’ve been trying to come up with passive aggressive strategies to see if he’s alive or dead.
Strategy 1: Look for an obituary. Negative. But in the five-and-a-half years that I’ve lived in my current house, I’ve never seen anyone other than him go into or out of his apartment. So who would have put an obituary in if he DID die? That was therefore inconclusive.
Strategy 2: Run to the door and look through the peephole anytime anyone walks by. The laundry room is right across from my door, so if he’s alive and wants clean clothes, he’s got to pass by there sometime. But no luck… which points toward him being dead because not only do dead men tell no tales, they also don’t need clean underwear or socks.
Strategy 3: Find a phone number and call him with my number blocked. No luck. If he has a phone, he’s not listed. Which makes sense, because why would a mean old man want people to be able to find him? Again, inconclusive.
Strategy 4: Stick a camera on a pole and hold it out over my balcony to take some pictures into his house and see if anyone was moving. One of my students came up with this plan, and I liked it, but it has two MASSIVE flaws: 1) if he IS alive and caught me doing that, I’m pretty sure he’d press charges (and an arrest record is frowned upon when you’re a teacher… even if it’s NOT for doing something super shady), and 2) what if he IS alive and is one of those sick, twisted individuals who walks around his apartment naked? I’d have to gouge my eyes out, Oedipus-style and then kill myself. I mean, it’s fine if I walk around MY apartment naked, but I’m not an old man. And my desire to not even take ANY chances that could result in me having to gouge my own eyes out is FAR stronger than my desire to see if he’s still alive or my desire to not talk to him. So that plan was out.
Strategy 5: Engage in all the activities he usually complains about. I’ve been cranking the volume on my tv every night, fully aware that if he IS alive, he would DEFINITELY complain about the noise, but I haven’t heard from him. Which, other than the paramedics and the fact that I haven’t seen him since before Christmas is my strongest evidence that he’s dead. Because threatening me seemed to be his sole source of entertainment in life.
I thought I lucked out on Wednesday night, because the condo association put notes on everyone’s door about some construction that’s going on. I figured that would be useful, because dead men can’t take flyers off their doors. And when I came home from school today, his flyer was gone. But so was the flyer on the door of the empty apartment down the hall. So again, inconclusive.
Of course, as several people pointed out (because I’ve been live tweeting my attempts to find out if he’s alive or dead), if he IS alive and reading this blog/my Twitter updates, I might wind up being the dead neighbor. But I’m not scared of him. Unless he IS dead AND is reading this, in which case, I’m very, VERY frightened.
But the moral of this story is simple: don’t piss me or Rosie off. Because one of us might have the ability to kill you. I just don’t know which one yet.