02 September 2008


At first it was just the one cop car. No one was in the back, and he didn't have any handcuffs, so I just watched from my open bedroom window. I tried to listen as he dispatched to the other cop that was on his way. Then, almost immediately, he was finished with his words and the other cop was in the drive.

Seeing the two cops in the drive caused my heart to palpitate just a bit. So, I closed the door to my apartment and made my way down the carpeted stairs to the first floor porch. Opening the old screen door, I was met with a familiar face. I could have been mistaken, but the blond haired, blue eyed officer looked remarkably similar to the officer that ticketed me the other week.

Any way, he looked at me with his spiked hair and starched shirt and asked me if I knew where apartment "hay" was. I answered, "A? As in number one?" "No," he said, "Number eight." "Oh...number eight," I said back. Because he had the gun, I complied with his request and told him just how to get to apartment number eight. "You see, you take this winding staircase, all the way to the top..."

And that was the last we spoke- the cop with the spiked hair and I.

I heard him and the other cop questioning the old lady up on the third floor. But it was rather unfortunate; the carpeted stairs proved to be excellent insulators and made eavesdropping nearly impossible. I could barely make out any details of the conversation. All I could hear was Mary, the old lady, defending herself.

I liked Mary. Her and I used to sit out on the porch- on hot summer nights, sipping cool tea, just waiting for the sun to drop. One night we watched a great storm come in from the east. The wind picked up and the rain soaked us to the bone. The popcorn we shared lost its flavor and soon we did too, and that was when we said good night. It was a night I'll never forget.

Once, I even gave Mary a ride to the library. "You going to Wayne?" she asked. I wasn't, but I wanted to give her a ride in my air conditioned car. It was the peak of summer and blazing hot and all I could think of was Mary and the heat- and just that the two didn't mix. She thanked me for the ride and I waved goodbye.

I've often thought about her story. I wonder about Harry and John too. John is the most frightening of the three on the third floor. He's got this laugh- this most godawful, creepy laugh. And, even though he's in his sixties, he asks me to do things with him- like almost dates. "Hey Laura, if you want to go to a movie later," or "Hey Laura, some time we should get coffee," or "Hey Laura, I'm walking to town later."


I could hear the voices from the third floor growing louder. There was shuffling directly above me and soon a quiet stampede flowed down the winding corridor. Near embracing the old wooden door, I pressed up against its peephole for a silent view. I watched the first cop pass, then the second.

Next thing I knew it was the afternoon, and Mary's metal bed frame was out on the porch. I locked the front door to my apartment and turned up the music. Pacing back and forth I turned the dial a few more notches. But, still, through the vent his laughter oozed- until the walls of my apartment had had its fill. And drunken with guilt she stepped outside and offered her hands up high.


Jessica said...

Oh my gosh! Laura! What happened???

Beccalynn said...

What happened to Mary??? Is she okay? Why was her metal bedframe on the front porch? I'm really worried! Very well written...so much so you got my heart palpitating with yours!

Laura said...

Okay, so to answer your questions...I really don't know what happened. I chatted with Mary the other night out on the porch and I didn't bring anything up from the day. I figured if she wanted to chat about specifics, she would. One thing I do know, she was supposed to move to FL in the fall, and she has changed plans, and decided to stay on the third floor. Hmm....