Remember how my neighbor did the whole thing with the bread? And then there have been a bunch of weirdo little things (staring us down, giving weird responses when we pass him and do the usual polite greeting, beginning to undress in our parking lot then hiding behind a tree in the dark and the rain, etc), and then he flicked a cigarette at me as I passed him on my way to the train.
We know he is actually crazy. Not just a dick, but a someone who is struggling mentally. We see his odd behavior, we see him talking to himself, not having any understanding of how his actions impact other people around him, we see that he is incapable of just being a normal dude. Because we live above him and are part of his daily life we see when things are going ok for him and when they aren’t. This is all speculation but we call it when he’s “on his meds” and when “he’s off his meds”. This is not a huge leap to make.
On his meds = quiet, normal, apartment living neighbor.
Off his meds = all of the blinds suddenly shut tight, loud loud loud music playing at weird times (like Monday night at 12:30 am, keeping us all awake too long and making us very tired on tuesday), walking around outside with a constrained look on his face, focusing on getting to his destination so hard that it’s obvious there are unseen things around him he is trying to avoid.
When I got home from work yesterday all of his blinds were shut tight and the late night music marathon that vibrated through our floor the night before all meant he was building up to something. Then I woke up at 2:00 am with a jolt.
A strong smell of electrical fire had filled our bedroom. I woke Kamel up. He walked through the apartment checking our bundles of wires, nothing. No sign of any issue. The smell continued and I continued to say, “No, something’s not right. This isn’t a normal fire, this is like burning plastic. No, something’s not right.” I was not going to go back to sleep until that smell was figured out. Finally I went to check if they smell was coming directly from our window or from somewhere else and then I saw it – a pile of burning stuff right under our bedroom window in the parking lot, smoking up a storm, most of the remains already charred through.
I didn’t see him do it, but I don’t have to. We’re calling the landlords this morning to tell them what we saw. I realize I can’t anticipate or totally understand mental illness, but I just wish he could be a gentle crazy person, someone who is a little off and that’s it instead of constantly being a drain on our life. I couldn’t sleep until maybe 3:00 and now I’m ridiculously tired yet again today. And I feel guilty for tattling on him. But I also want to have our normal little quiet life back. The kind where I’m not woken up in the middle of the night by terrible smoke either from chain smoking cigarettes or a pile of burning debris. Or slamming doors or blasting music or rummaging to peel off his screens, or angry neighbors leaning on his buzzer. That’s all.