Monday, November 28, 2016

Apartment 4C

Can you believe it?” Janice said as she let Amanda into the apartment. Amanda remembers hurrying over after she called.
So it’s really true?” Amanda asked, “You’re moving out, just like that?”
The job pays for the move,” Janice explained, as she struggled to get a partially full box onto a chair in a nearly empty kitchen. “The movers will be here in a half an hour. It’s happening so fast.” She grabs a few remaining items out of one of the cabinets. “Steve put in his resume just last week, and now we have to be there by tomorrow."
Steve and Janice Dowler were a friendly married couple and seemingly the only couple, in the apartment complex, who weren't at each other's throats.
He worked as a manager of a bank and she stayed home with their four kids. When the economy collapsed, the bank closed and he lost his job as well as his pension. They had their own savings, but some of it was used to pay off the rest of their house loan when they sold it at a loss.
Then they moved into 4C where they both found part time work to make ends meet. Amanda would babysit for them after school hours when neither of them could get home on time.
Now, the apartment was a madhouse, as the kids fed off the energy of the excitement. Two of them were running around the now emptied living room, dodging boxes and their parents, as they played a game of Aliens and astronauts. The youngest, not yet two was running excitedly back and forth with his blanket, squealing every time the two boys passed him. He seemed to think that he was in on the game. The oldest, the only girl, was yelling at the boys to quiet down, then yelling over them on her phone, pausing only occasionally to send a text.
Usually, the kids were admonished for such behavior, but it seemed that Janice and Steve were too caught up in the move to address the situation.
Did she always have that phone?” Amanda asked as she handed Janice another box to empty the drawers in.
Oh, no,” Janice said, “The company gave Steve an advance. We paid off our the rest of our debt and then got the kids a little something.” She motioned towards the boys. “I told Steve to wait until we had a yard again, but he didn't listen. Oh well, I guess if it weren't for the Nerf guns, they would be undoing all of our packing. They have so much energy."
Amanda turned and picked up a smaller box and handed it to Janice just as Steve walked in from the bedrooms, carrying what appeared to be a rather heavy box.
I just have to bring that last box to the living room,” he said and then saw Amanda. “Would you mind grabbing the vacuum and go over the bedroom floors?”
THUD! “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!” CRASH! Amanda snapped back to the present with the weekly brawl that went on next door.
Is it Saturday already?” Amanda wondered as she grabbed her laptop bag and slid her index cards into the front pocket. She packed her bag with her laptop, phone and wallet the night before.
The first Saturday she moved in, she heard the fight and thought that she would try to help. A rather large burly woman answered the door. She saw a red mark near her eye. Amanda was incensed at first, until she saw the large burly man show up behind her. He had a bloodied lip and a gash on his cheek. This fight wasn't one-sided. Amanda recalled how much they looked alike, except she had hair and he didn't.
The both seemed amused at this 5'3" woman making an attempt to stop a fight. They rebuffed her attempts to help, but it seemed to have worked. After they closed the door, it got quiet and the only sound you can hear was the toddler in 4C.
When the cops showed up, they seemed surprised that the fight was over already. After Amanda explained what happened, one of the cops told her that this was a weekly occurrence and it was better if she just stayed out of it. It would be safer if she would just call them.
"Just call directly to the station, rather than use 911," the officer said, "This is a common occurrence, and we can keep 911 dispatch free to handle real emergencies."
After seeing how burly the couple was and knowing how small she was in comparison, she figured the cop was right. If they decided to turn on her, it could cost her an arm or a leg, literately. Either one appears to be capable of ripping her limbs out.
So now, when the fight starts, she grabs her laptop and heads out to the local coffee shop, calling the police station on her way out. The other neighbors don't usually bother to call the police unless it ends up in the hall or it's too loud for too long.  Amanda is usually the first and only person to call and dispatch knows her by name. If it was slow in dispatch, they will sometimes get into a conversation on the local news and politics.

This time, Amanda didn't slow down and kept the conversation short. She had a better reason to be at the coffee shop then just to get away from the noise. Todd was meeting her there.
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