The bicycle guy hated everyone. The custodian told us not to look at him or say good morning but he always stopped my husband to talk, listening for hours while the bicycle guy told him that the town was once a river and the buildings were fake and the Nor’easters, were a way of cleansing the buildings, and that cat! The cat in the basement is a spy with a chip in its head and our dog knows it.
The bicycle guy lived on the 3rd floor. He washed the stars with bleach everyday muttering about the dirt, he couldn’t get it out, like Lady Macbeth washing the invisible blood from her hands.
Charlotte was a make-up artist. She lived on the 4thfloor. She’d always forget her keys and we’d have to buzz her in. She’d often stop by to visit and sometimes bring her cat. She was passed out on the stairs one day in an oxy-stupor. She moved back in with her parents after that. When the custodian cleaned out her apartment, he broke a wall and thousands of flies clung to every wall in the building.
It was unclear why the bicycle guy didn’t drive a car. He rode his bike everywhere. We’d see him in far off towns.
On the 2nd floor was Rick. He rubbed the floors of his apartment bare just by walking on them. He painted his head brown with shoe polish and would buy one beer at a time from the corner store. I left him food one day. He brightened for a moment, died a few weeks later. No one knew his last name.
There was a therapist on the first floor. She loved to talk. I’d get caught in the lobby for hours listening to stories about her patients. And the contractor and his wife living beneath us divorced. I was relieved when she left because she’d take her broom and bang it on my ceiling if the dog was playing with water bottles, until the husband rented a room out to a man who beat his girlfriend and shoved her so hard against a window that it shattered and fell onto the people dining below.
But it wasn’t until the bicycle guy threw his refrigerator out of his window. His freezer listening to every word he said and didn’t say. He knew it all along. He told my husband that the landlord screamed; you can’t do that! “You see she had it all wrong. I can, because I did. Now if she had said, you may not…”