I was starting to worry that I’d have to testify…

It’s no secret that I am all about the old-time gangster lifestyle – three of my favorite movies are The Godfather, The Departed and Goodfellas. I watch COPS whenever it’s on – it’s what I’m watching right now, in fact. One of the only things I don’t like about my apartment’s cable plan is that we don’t have MSNBC, because I am fascinated by Lockup.

In my first apartment by myself out of college in the itty bitty town where my first reporting job was, I came fairly close to a real life crime, or so I thought. I lived in a house that had been converted into four different apartments. Above me was a 60-year old former cocaine dealer – found this out when I did a ride-along with the local cops one night – and across from him was a little old lady that looked like the old woman from The Wedding Singer, only with a bit of a drinking problem. One night someone from her apartment was taken to the hospital and I listened from downstairs to the conversation. She needed a ride to the hospital but told the EMT she couldn’t drive because she’d had a “little bit to drink.” Little bit, though, meant a CASE of Natty Ice and half a bottle of wine. Did I mention she was the exact replica, looks-wise of the Wedding Singer lady?

Across the hall, the people – a middle-aged couple – seemed normal, just loud. They’d slam the door at all hours of the night and I swear that woman vacuumed all day every day. They also went back and forth to the storage closet a lot. The closet was in the laundry room, which was right outside my apartment door. So, basically, the way the apartment was set up, I could hear and sometimes see, pretty much anything my neighbors were up to. Ew.

One night, I heard some especially loud noises around 1 a.m. in the laundry room and figured it was the neighbor from across the hall getting yet another thing out of the storage closet. I went to the peephole to see what was going on. Gimme a break, kids. There wasn’t much else to do, Internet was almost as slow as dial-up and everything in town closed by 8 p.m. A few minutes after I got to the door I saw the woman from across the hall come out of the laundry room cleaning a baseball bat. First odd thing, it was 1 A.M. Secondly, a BASEBALL BAT? Being that I watch several of the aforementioned crime shows and movies, my first thought was “This is not good.” After she was finished cleaning the bat, she turned the laundry room light out. And slowly, quietly – I kid you not – opened the door to her DARK APARTMENT with the bat behind her. Tell me that doesn’t sound like she was about to go kill her husband.

Turns out, I didn’t almost witness a murder, thank God. And until the other day, I thought that was the closest I’d come to possible involvement in a court case because my neighbor had been killed.

In the three months the roommate and I have lived in the new place, we’ve seen ONE of our five neighbors – above us, below us and across the hall. The one above us saw me the day I moved in and introduced himself and also came down the night of our Christmas party to basically say “SHUT UP AND STOP HAVING DANCE PARTIES ALREADY, IT’S 4:30 A.M. ON A SATURDAY, WHAT ARE YOU, PEOPLE WHO HAVE A LIFE?” to which I replied, “Do you want a beer?”

There’s allegedly a couple with a child across the hall from us, as Anthony’s bedroom backs up to said child’s crib and has heard the kid crying on many an occasion. The lady of the house may or may not look like Lindsay Lohan circa 2007, that’s all I could gather from the 0.94 milliseconds I saw her one day. We have no idea if they have jobs or do drugs or fight crime like superheroes while we sleep or have a large inheritance that allows them to just stay inside and have their groceries and clothes delivered and they just watch QVC all day. WE NEVER SEE THEM.

Apparently, though, they celebrate Christmas, because last week a Christmas tree was placed outside their door, I’m assuming to be disposed of. I say assuming, because five days later, it was still there, BLOCKING THE DOOR. So, do they step over it every time they leave and are hoping a big gust of wind will just throw it into the courtyard and it’ll look like storm damage? Or…thinking like anyone would who owns all the seasons of Dexter and watches American Justice and Cold Case Files and Law and Order on a regular basis…are they dead?

Now, that wasn’t my first thought, when the tree was blocking their front door for two days, or three days. Six days later though, when the thing hadn’t moved, we started to get suspicious. All of the sudden Anthony couldn’t remember the last time he’d heard a peep from the kid and we couldn’t see any lights on or hear anything. I even called the office and told them to check it out because we were a little concerned.

Let me explain though. Not only were we concerned for their general well-being – and didn’t want to have to be questioned by the cops as far as the last time we’d seen them, etc. – but as part of our rental agreement, we sign something that says if you leave trash outside your front door for longer than 12 hours you get fined. I’d say a dying tree counts as trash. And if they weren’t getting in trouble for that, then I’m gonna start setting our trash out there when it’s full instead of letting it stink up our entryway the whole night before we can take it out.

As of tonight at 4:30 when I left for church, the tree was still there. When I got back at 7, it was gone, but not without leaving a trail of debris from their front door all the way downstairs. So. Either they got in trouble, they finally had time to make a trash run or crime scene clean-up has begun and there’s gonna be some yellow caution tape up by tomorrow morning.

If this makes it on Law and Order, Anthony and I would like a say in who they cast to play us.

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