A couple days ago, I had just finished watching The View and having my usual lunchtime smoothie and toast. I was in the kitchen washing the blender when my buzzer rang. I answered it, hoping that perhaps it was a package from UPS I had forgotten would be coming…. or Regis Philbin coming over to play Monopoly Is it Sunday already, I asked myself?!
The voice on the buzzer said:
“Hi. I’m with the NYPD investigating illegal construction in the building”
It didn’t really register what he said. So I said.
“Can I come up?” he said.
Still confused I said.
He then stated my apartment number and the apartment above me.
I said okay but as I walked away from the buzzer, I was struck with how strange it was that someone would want to see the construction in my apartment; the last renovation done on my apartment was long before color TV and possibly before talking motion pictures. The walls crumble at the touch, my door recently rotted off it’s hinge, and there is a spot on my floor that is literally caving in. It looks like a spooky haunted house and a lovely one at that but…. someone wanting to investigate it’s construction is a different matter entirely.
So, obviously, I panicked. This isn’t the NYPD. This isn’t an investigation. This is a flat out, full on serial killer. I am gonna let him into my apartment where I’ll be here all helpless and by myself like the shy, demure housewife that I am and…. I could see it all: His coming in. Closing the door. Circling the hall way and then turning on me. Maybe he’ll pull out a gun, or a even worse a knife. I think I’d rather the gun because at the least that will be less pain. Or will it? No! A knife I don’t think I could handle. I think I’d pass out immediately if he produced the knife but the gun…. take a deep breath…. lets hope he uses a gun.
He’ll demand all the money I’ve got and I’ll sheepishly hand over my wallet. He’ll look inside at the ten dollar bill and maxed out credit cards I’ve carried around for the past four years as a display of my hope that one day I’ll be able to call the 1-800 number on the back and say: ‘Hey. I think I am ready to pay these off now.’ He’ll demand more but I’ll tell him…. I’m sorry, sir….. I don’t have anymore….. he’ll tell me his name is Paul and I’ll be struck with how common and normal a name like Paul sounds… shouldn’t he be called Spike or Stingray? Something violent and scary. Paul seems less like a serial killer/thief and more like a sale clerk in a low rent shoe story talking about how excited he is for the weekend: ‘TGIF, I always say’ he howls to his coworkers in the breakroom as if he, just now, in Harry’s Shoes, he came up with that phrase himself. His coworkers will frown- Paul has a sad life-they’ll think to themselves.
Yea. Paul is a weird name of this killer/thief but that doesn’t stop him.
He’ll take my computer but I’ll beg him, plead him, to let me email myself all my writing documents first. You should have backed up, he’ll tell me. I know I know…. I always meant to I just….. ran out of time…. Ran out of time? He’ll ask…. how many hours did you spend watching TV yesterday?…. That’s beside the point, I’ll scream and then regret it…. I shouldn’t have agitated this man. Eventually, yes…. he will kill me and take my computer….. and my Dad’s cowboy boots….. just to like…. rub it in.
So. I’m standing there in my hallway waiting to let in this allegedly NYPD person and the paranoia got too much to handle. I realized I hadn’t buzzed the man up so I threw on my jacket, thinking: I’ve got to get out of here!!!!!
I ran out the door, down the stairs, but when I got to the front door…. the man was, of course, still there….. waiting to be let in….. he looked at me and I gave him my best ‘I’m not the person you just talked to on the buzzer’ expression.
‘Have you noticed any illegal construction in the building?’
I quickly realized he’ll remember my voice from the buzzer earlier so…. my first impulse was to do a British accent and answer his question.
Then I remembered I suck at British accents so…..
I pretended to be mute.
He asked his question again and I weirdly and awkwardly shrugged.
He said ‘Do you live in the building?’
And again, I shrugged, this time adding a weird mute person noise…. a sorta…. arrghh.
He gave me an agitated look.
‘I fucking hate New York City’ his face seemed to say.
And then I ran. Out the door. Down the sidewalk. Trembling, shaking with fear. I continued walking for a good thirty or forty minutes…. I didn’t know where to go…. I didn’t want to go back there because I as sure he’d wait on me…. eventually I returned to the building (across the street just in case, of course) and he was still standing outside the building, waiting, annoyed, smoking a cigarette. This time however, I noticed…. which I hadn’t before…. the large police car with flashing red lights outside. It was suddenly very real.
A million thoughts ran through my head as I paced around my neighborhood for another fifteen minutes. I wondered if I could get arrested for lying to the cop, for pretending to be a mute when I could so clearly talk, I wondered if he would stay there all day, I wondered where the nearest private bathroom was because I really needed to go, I wondered if he’d bust our front door down and be there waiting when I returned, I wondered…. could I ever return? Would I be a fugitive forever? Is this it? A life on the open road? Standing on the corner of 57th street with the wind on my face and in my hair I felt rather free for a moment, untied down…. unstoppable…. it was the first time I’d been out of the house all day…. the sun felt so nice on my skin.
When I got back home both he and his intimidating car were gone. Our front door was in tact (though the door in my apartment is still rotted off its hinge) and I felt a little silly. A large part of me wishes I had just answered the door like a normal person, and a large part of me is proud that my smart upbringing and frequent viewings of horror movies have taught me not to let just anybody into the house unannounced….. and part of me sorta liked being a fugitive, being on the run, without anywhere holding me down… at least it got me out of the house. Sometimes, I guess thats just the push we need…. even just for an hour…. adventure.