Saturday, December 29, 2007

excercising caution

for the past four years i've been living in atlanta i have spent enormous amounts of money. at the time, it made sense; i needed a new pair of pointe shoes or that one MAC eyeshadow that i rarely ever wear. maybe if i would have taken the time to think about what i was getting myself into, ahem, debt.... i probably wouldn't have bought that trivial shit.

but this is my life. take the time to think about something before you do it and the repercussions aren't that bad. no, no. i still have not yet learned this concept, instead indulging my desires at the time they strike. but what's the line of being thoughtful to becoming overly-cautious? my free spirit cancels all that out. i can't seem to get to the medium.

my old apartment was located in Inman Park, a quaint and quiet neighborhood right outside the city. it's probably one of my favorite places in all of georgia, with it's gnarly oak-lined streets and huge carosel houses with pillars and hand carved crown moldings that line all the porches. i could walk to a number of small boutique restaurants with great wine lists and gourmet menus, and it holds my favorite coffee shop where i am currently writing this post. they have an annual festival every spring in which local artists display their work inside little collapsible kiosks, and the open container law becomes null and void, as people get drunk listening to the live musicians and buy antiques that have been painted in electric colors for their kitchen. i have never met someone in inman park that was not incredibly nice and helpful. it seems that everyone here has a little bit of a pleasantville syndrome, but i don't mind cause everyone else in atlanta has a little bit of a fuck you i'm a dick syndrome. i prefer the former over the latter.

my apartment complex was one of the oldest in atlanta. inman park itself is ancient, so i guess that makes sense. but the difference is monumental... all of the gigatoid houses in the neighborhood have been gutted and restored, even though most retain the same frame that was built hundreds of years before. they look like the pictures of themselves from the first famiies that moved into them in the early 1900s, but at closer inspection have been outfitted in stainless steel convection ovens and hidden track lighting with dimmer dials. elizabeth terrace looks as if it hasn't been touched since the civil war, with it's musty smell, ivy covered walls, and rusted metal fire escapes on either side. i could put a golf ball at my front door and watch as it rolled into the living room. the floors were the original wood, a beautiful strong mohagany that would attack your foot with splinters if you opted out on shoes. there wasn't central heat and air, but two dilapidated wall units in every apartment, one in the bedroom and one in the living room. mine leaked so bad that if i wanted a nice breeze all the shit i had around it would be sopping wet by the time i woke up. there were spiders that lived in holes in the window frames and my fire alarm would go off everytime i cooked, wether it was tea or a casserole and it stood right next to the train tracks so every morning at five am when the trains switched cars it woke you with a sound equivalent to that of a small atom bomb... it was a piece of shit with lots of character, and it was the best apartment i have ever lived in. i was sad when i had to move out, and let that period of my life go.

everyone in the apartment complex was screened by the manager, bruce. bruce was a small man in his early sixties who drove an old two door beige mercedes and talked in a heavy southern drawl. at first glance he seemed to be somewhat of a square, with his brown horn rimmed glasses and responsible slacks, but when you visited his office you were greeted with warrants for arrest and mug shots of a younger bruce with more hair. i guess he was a bit of an activist in the sixties and was notorious around atlanta police stations for being a threat to the hierarchy. bruce loved me, though, as i soon found out his duaghter was a ballet dancer for much of her life and he has an affinity for anyone who reminds him of her, as he wasn't able to see her that much because she had long since moved to hawaii. so i was in like flynn, and because i paid my rent on time every month and was considered to be a quiet tenant, he cut me some slack on my rent expenses.

everyone in the building was alot like me. there were only twelve apartments, so i assumed that i would eventually get to know everyone who lived there, but we all kept to ourselves so much that i ended up not really knowing anyone at all. there were a few faces i reconized passing at the front door, or that i said hi to when i got my mail, but for the most part even though they were nice they weren't sociable. that was fine with me, as i like my home life to be kept to myself and out of harms way. i lived on the third floor too, and beyond the occasional package i didn't get much traffic on a daily basis.

one weekend i was packing up to go home to orlando, and i was checking my list to make sure i didn't forget anything when i heard a knock at my front door. this was exciting for me, because of the rarity of visitors, and i bounced over and greeted my subject with a smile. it was a rather large and burly man who introduced himself as chelsea, and when i shook his hand i noticed he had some shitty tattoos on his forearm that made him like like a sailor from the forties. he told me he had just moved back to atlanta and was trying to get settled again, and that he lived in apartment 2 on the first floor. he looked as if he could bench press a tractor trailer but spoke with a small and indistinguishable voice.

"do you happen to have any change for the washer? i only have ones and i didn't want to go all the way to the bank just to change them out..."

did i ever - i have a serious ocd habit of collecting change. i will pick it up off the floor no matter if it's mine or the parking lot of a groacery store and save it in a small ming vase that rests on my bedstand. when i fill up the vase all the way i go to a coinstar and get it changed out to bills and treat myself to something special, like a tank of gas or some oreos. it's like a bingo jackpot, and i win every time.

"well, it's your lucky day, man, cause i got change for hours. come on in, let me get it for you." i let him inside and closed the door behind me, not thinking that it wasn't perfectly fine to allow a strange man into your apartment when no one can hear you scream. i got the vase and changed out his cash.

noticing a package of rolling papers on my kitchen table he said, "oh, you smoke? cool, i haven't really met anyone yet here and i'm always down to have a smoking buddy. hey, maybe did you want to come down and smoke? i'm just doing laundry and i'm bored, so..."

i was hesitant to agree but i did because i was being nice, but when he left and i got to thinking while i was packing up my car that maybe it wasn't such a great idea. i didn't know him and there was something unusal about him; he had a vacant look in his eyes the more i talked to him, like there was a void where his brain should have been. and why did he come all the way up to the third floor, and happened to pick my apartment out of the three other men that lived up there too? was that a happy coincidence that he knew i was the only single girl who lived in the apartment complex? no, something reeked about the situation, and i went to knock on his door and tell him thanks, but no thanks.

first mistake. i should have just left. but no, i am exponentially nice and do no have the ability to just leave someone hanging without an explanation. i walked up to the door, but it was already cracked, and he looked as if he was waiting close to the door so he could open it quickly, which he did. ushering me in, he said "come in, come in... sorry it's a little messy..."

messy? i could do a fucking white glove test on his shit and it would come up clean... the apartment was laid out alot like mine, but was painted a deep red and had art up all over the walls. "have a seat, i just need to let the dog out." he explained it was his girlfriend's dog, which made me feel better, like nothing was going to happen to me because he already had a woman in his life. but that didn't last for long.

i sat on the loveseat next to the couch, making sure that i was in a position that i could see where chelsea's hands were at all times. he sat on the couch and looked at me while i pretended to be really interested in the art on the walls, though i was silently trying to plan my escape. he said something about writing, and i told him that i was a writer and that's what i graduated with from FSU.

"oh, yeah, i have about 1500 pages of manuscript. i think i'm going to try and be published soon too."

one thousand, five hundred pages of writing? i write five pages and i'm done. that's why my novels have stalled fifty pages in. i just can't seem to find the time to do that. i remarked that the number was quite high, and that he must have been writing for years to be able to accumulate that much. and it was after his reply to this that chelsea and my meeting was met with flashing red lights and sirens in my head.

"well. i did some time, and i had alot of downtime, i guess you could say."

right. did some time? how do you just slip that in a normal conversation and expect to be met with anything but nervousness? i guess i didn't hide my reaction very well, even though i thought i did a pretty good job of keeping my poker face, and retraced his steps in a mildly frantic state.

"oh, i just freaked you out. it was a non-violent offense, you're freaked out, aren't you. are you freaked out? really, it wasn't anything..."

doing time that enabled him to write fifteen hundred pages of script told me that he didn't just go in for mortgage fraud. no, chelsea was someone that could do damage to people's faces or domesticated animals, and i was not about to stick around to find out. thanks, i'm all set on death.

"no, nah, i mean, shit happens you know? everyone has bad days, i guess..." i was trying to conceal the fact that i was in a threatending situation by keeping a straight face and even tone. but my bad days do not consist of going to jail for a long period of time. i nervously picked up the camera that was on his coffee table and wound the hand tie around my fingers a couple times. i have a tendency to look at anything but the subject when i get nervous. that's what makes me a better writer than a talker, and it's much less awkward.

"no, i freaked you out. i can tell...." he just looked at me and i opened my mouth to say that i was going to pass on smoking with him and that i was already late on leaving, but he beat me to it. "i don't really have any pot..."

now, after hearing this i was ready to get the fuck out. that's what he invited me down to do. "but i have some cocaine, do you want some of that?" no. no, i did not want some of his cocaine. first of all, it was around eleven in the morning, but second, really? really. i calmly thanks-but no thanksed it and my gaze was becoming erratic and frantic, looking for an exit. at this point the only thing i could see in my mind was his eerie vacant gaze from across the couch and watch in fear as his hand stealthily moved behind the arm of the coach and grab a sharp metal object like a fire poker stick or crowbar and swing it, smashing against my temple and dragging my body into the bedroom to skin me and make a people suit. i could hear my skull tinkling off my face like ice in a cocktail glass and feel the blood pouring from my lifeless eyes. this was on repeat over and over and over... i just wanted to get out.

he pointed to his camera and asked of he could do some and if he could take pictures of me afterwards. i jumped up from the loveseat and backed up towards the door, facing him and mumbled something like, "well, i think that i am pretty much set and i'm late for orlando, no one likes being late you know maybe i think i'll take a raincheck and we'll see when..." i opened the door (thank god he didn't fucking lock it, that would have been a different ending than what i'm about to tell you) and literally ran down the hall to my car. i didn't stop, i didn't look back, and i was almost out of the line of fire when i heard him calling my name, chasing my car down, dog on leash. as i slowed down he leaned into the passenger seat window and said, "i don't think we should talk about this again, okay?" his voice was small, but he growled this and his eyes had gone from vacant to fixed. i said "sure!" and got the fuck away from him.

leaving the parking lot was one of those surreal situations, and i ended up talking to myself for a couple minutes, making sure that what had just happened indeed just happened. i was pretty sure it did, but the more i thought about it the wierder it became. not talk about it. right. i couldn't have written that shit; it's too golden to be true. plus, i was alive and not a skin blazer, that's something to boast about.

about a month after that situation happened, we got a letter from bruce. he usually gave us heads up when maintenance was scheduled on the building but this letter was longer and had a big red WARNING label at the top. i read in horror about how a female tenant was accosted by chealsea but was eventually able to get away after calling the police on her cell phone. it said that chelsea had an a warrant out for his arrest and if he was seen that we should call the police immediately.

i was so lucky. i was so lucky that my naivety didn't land me in the hospital, or worse yet, the grave. i'm lucky to have had the mild experience. in bruce's letter it mentioned something about his arrest for domestic violence and rape, which easily could be very true, given his demeanor and height to weight ratio. i never saw him again, but i also never looked for him again, either. hopefully he was arrested and not able to get to me. who knows? maybe if he reads this post he'll get really angry at me and try to hit me over the head with a crowbar again.

but until that happens, i'll be fine over here in my apartment, alone, with all the doors lockes, excercising my caution. i like to stay in shape that way now.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.