In Part I, I described the myriad charms of my colorful neighborhood. Today, in honor of Halloween, I will relay the chilling tale of my haunted apartment.

Late last year, my roommate Erika and I found an affordable two-bedroom on Craigslist.  We were enchanted by the large living room, hardwood floors and renovated kitchen, and agreed to move in right away.  As we blithely unpacked our belongings, we were completely unaware that a dark, slumbering creature stirred beneath us, disrupted by the sounds of clinking silverware and raucous laughter.  Intruders, the creature thought, his glassy red eyes narrowing into resentful slits.  They shall pay for their insouciance.

It was only a few moments later when we heard the pounding on the door.  I swung it open to find a large, fuming man standing in our hallway.  The flush of our toilet had somehow flooded the kitchen of our downstairs neighbors.  We stammered apologies, called the landlord, and enlisted the help of a plumber posthaste.  It seemed that it was only an isolated incident, and we chalked it up to a moving day hiccup.

We were wrong. Dead wrong.

At first the incidents were small.  A leaky radiator.  A faulty doorbell.  Soon we discovered that there were holes in the sides of our walls, holes so large you could waggle your fingers through them.  One day I opened my apartment door to find a fireman with an axe standing in the hallway, a flood of water pouring down the stairs and over his boots.  I stared for a moment, and then wordlessly shut the door.

The downstairs neighbors' apartment continued to flood, and they pounded on our door with increasing frequency. They accused us of unconscionable acts like taking showers and washing dishes. They surmised that we were in cahoots with the landlord.  At one point they shut off water for the entire building, forcing us to take baby wipe showers and brush our teeth with Diet Coke.

In a dark rage about the lack of water, I went downstairs to confront the neighbor.  I found him dejectedly slapping his soaked kitchen floor with an old tattered broom. Something about this forlorn sight softened me.  "What the hell is wrong with this building?" I asked him, hoping to set in motion the easy camaraderie of sharing an enemy.

He gazed at me for the moment, and then lifted his broom up to touch the tip against the ceiling. The entire ceiling moved up and down easily, as if it was merely a slab of tin.

"We haven't had a real ceiling for as long as I can remember.  Years ago a cat came in through a hole in the wall and somehow got stuck between the tin and your floor.  For days we could hear him yowling up there, and we couldn't get him out.  We told the landlord to come get him out, and he told us it would be easier if we just let it die."

"So what did you do?"

"Well we couldn't just let it die!  Imagine the smell. We had no choice but to do what we did."

He didn't even need to tell me the rest.  It was painfully obvious what had happened: he and his wife had performed a satanic incantation in order to send the cat, body-and-soul, into another dimension.  But their spell went awry, and instead of slinking off into some netherworld as expected, Ghost Cat remained trapped under our floorboards, vengefully plotting against the humans who had ruined him.  Thanks guys!

As the weeks went by, Ghost Cat acted out with increasing furor.   He sparked an electrical fire in the apartment above us, resulting in an electrical outage for the whole building.  Ghost Cat kicked the ladder out from under the girl above us, who had to be carried out of the apartment on a stretcher.  He unleashed a plague of brash, tiny mice upon our apartment, who followed us into our rooms and regarded us blandly as we tried to shoo them away.  It was a nightmare.

Through all of this, our intercom system remained broken.  For several weekends in a row, a nice Thai couple came by to try to fix it, but they were no match for supernatural forces.  Then, late one Tuesday night, I heard an urgent knock on my apartment door.  I opened it to find my landlord, Mr. Soloman, in my hallway. (He insists that we call him Mr. Soloman despite the fact that a) Soloman is his first name and b) he's at most 24 years old.)

"Dude, it's almost midnight. What's going on?"

"We need to come in and fix your doorbell."

Without further preamble, a tiny Orthodox Jewish man dressed in green coveralls slipped into our apartment and started banging on our intercom with a hammer.  Erika stumbled out of her bedroom, rubbing sleep from her eyes.

"What's going on?"

"They're fixing our doorbell that's been broken since we moved in."


The man kept hitting his hammer against the intercom, mumbling to himself all the while.  Mr Soloman stood nervously in the doorway and watched.

Suddenly, at the stroke of midnight, the intercom emitted a long, plaintive, otherworldly cry.  A gust of wind picked up outside, knocking branches against our kitchen window. The howl reached a crescendo, and then there was only silence.

The man in the coveralls gave us a grave nod, put down his hammer, and exited the apartment without another word.   Mr. Soloman smiled wanly, and then vanished also.

I turned to Erika, enveloped by giddy relief.

"I think we're ok now. I think its all going to be ok!"

"Is the doorbell fixed?"

I tried it.  "No."


Erika turned and walked back into her bedroom.

 As I stood there I felt like I was being watched.  I looked over  to see a cat standing on the fire escape, staring at me with wide, angry eyes.  There was another gust of wind, and he was gone forever.

...Or was he?

Happy Halloween my dears!


Hannah said...

Those guys were just trying to get a look at you in your sexy, non-orthodox Jewish nighty. The very next time they try to come in the middle of the night, you say, "I hope you're shomer negia, because when I punch you in the face for waking me up, I want it to hurt, AND be a sin!!!" Balls-up, kiddo!!

Maroid Rage said...

Thanks for the tip! Yeah my alternate theory was that they're pervs and they installed a tiny camera in the intercom that broadcasts our apartment 24/7 in like, a synagogue basement in Williamsburg. But I'd rather our apartment be haunted.

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