You don’t just knock. There should be rules when you live in an apartment building. Call first, or slip a note under the door to ask if you can swing by. You don’t just knock.
Obviously, there was a knock at his door; his skin crawled. He had the same reaction when the telephone rang. Who was bothering him now and why? With text messaging, people can ask their questions, giving him time to respond at his leisure—typically with a lie or an excuse as to why he cannot babysit last minute or come to a party.
This time, he could not ignore the knock at his door, because his television was on. Whoever was on the other fucking side knew he was inside. He stood up and prepared himself for a weird encounter. That’s all he ever had in his building these days. Weird encounters.
Like, for example, there was the doorman who could never remember that the man lived in the building. The “doorman” would stop him and say, “Excuse me. You live here?”
“Yes,” he’d snap back. “11A.”
Anyway, he opened the door and saw his scab-faced meth head neighbor standing outside, trembling and smiling.
“H-hey,” she said.
He tried to avoid her, although it was a tad difficult since she left her front door open almost all the time and came running whenever she heard a noise in the hallway. She constantly complained about other neighbors “breaking into” her apartment and “stealing” her shit.
Last week, he saw her cat roaming the hallway meowing at two in the morning. He knew it belonged to the meth head, and so he scooped up the cat and went to her apartment and (shudder) knocked on her door.
“Is this your cat?”
“It sure is,” she said, snatching the cat from him. “Don’t you steal my kitty!”
She slammed the door in his face.
And now, here she was, knocking on his door, friendly as ever.
“So. So. So, like. So like, yeah. Okay. so like, you know the cunt who lives in 8C?”
“The old lady?”
“Yeah. Well … well … she’s dead.”
“Oh,” he said.
“Anyway, they put a sign up in the elevator that she’s dead and her family is giving away her stuff and I need your help with a sofa.”
“Oh,” he said. “I’m sorry. I can’t. I’m just on my way out.”
“It’ll only take a minute. Please. I really want the sofa and if I don’t come back in ten minutes, they’re going to give it to someone else. Please?”
He sighed. He couldn’t say no.
“Thank you,” she said.
He grabbed his keys.
“I really need it. Right now, I don’t have anywhere for guests to stay. But this sofa is a sleep sofa! Have you ever heard of that? A sleep sofa! There’s a bed. Inside of it.”
“Yes,” he said. “I’ve heard of sleep sofas.”
“Oh,” she said, picking at a scab on her nose. “Cool. I … I can’t pay you, but maybe I can give you something to eat?”
“It’s okay,” he said as they got into the elevator and went down to the eighth floor.
In apartment 8C, they found a lovely apartment decorated as you might imagine an eighty year old woman to decorate. Vintage lamps, records, a stunning curio cabinet filled with hundreds of glass and china animals—mostly owls—shelves of books, and … a sleep sofa.
Think about the things we acquire over a lifetime. Things we don’t really need. Things we spend our hard earned money on. And for what? So we can die and burden our offspring with them? Essentially, you’re saying to your family, “Here. You throw this away for me.”
And that’s exactly what the dead woman’s relatives were doing.
“I’m back,” she announced. “And I’ve got a little helper to help me!”
“Okay,” the relatives said.
There sat a huge 1980s velvet green sofa, pressed up against the heater in front of a large living room window, facing a giant wood grain framed television. The fabric was bleached from years of sun exposure.
“Let’s do this,” she said with excitement as they grabbed hold and moved the sofa away from the window. As he picked it up, clumps of fabric came off in his hand.
“Jesus,” he said. “This thing is falling apart.”
He looked behind the sofa. Moisture from the radiator must have seeped into the fabric over the years—the entire back was covered in thick, green mold.
“Oh, fuck!” He shouted. “Look at this thing. You can’t take this.”
“Oh, please,” she giggled. “That’ll clean right up.”
“You’re kidding? This belongs in the trash!”
“But I need a sleep sofa. For my guests!”
“You can’t have guests sleep on this! It’s garbage.”
“It is not garbage. It’s my sofa!”
“It’s covered in mold,” he argued.
“It’ll clean right up,” she said with a shrug.
“It’s wet. Look. It’s literally wet.”
“I have a hairdryer. It’ll be okay. Now stop arguing and help me!”
He wasn’t sure why he was arguing with her. She was clearly insane. And maybe the mold would kill her and then he’d never have to see her again. As he thought about her death, he smirked and said, “Okay. Fine. Let’s do this.”
Huge chunks of mold covered fabric dropped onto the hallway floor. When they shoved this thing into the elevator, a neighbor gasped.
“Wow,” the neighbor said.
“I know,” she said. “And it was free!”
He tried to hide his face behind the sofa.
When the elevator doors opened, he moved as fast as he could. They carried the sofa to her front door, which was … obviously, open.
“Put it down,” she said.
“We’ll have to leave it here for the time being.”
“What? Why?” He asked.
“I’ve got no room for it.”
He’d never been inside of her apartment. She beckoned with her hand, inviting him in. He walked, cautiously, through her front door, peeking in. What he saw both horrified and amazed him.
The entire living room was stacked, almost to the ceiling, with sofas. One on top of the other in rows of three. His eyes grew wide in disbelief. So many sofas and nowhere to sit.
She emerged behind him, her hands full with cans of cat food.
“Your choice,” she said with a smile. “Salmon and shrimp pate or turkey in sauce.”