Monday, August 31, 2009

Mystery on the Bayou

Don't mind me, but I'm reading Agatha Christie again, and I've got this habit of turning everything and everyone around me into a story. On another time, I'll tell you about how I turned a simple outing to a Vietnamese sandwich shop into an undercover sting operation for a mafioso. But this mystery is closer to home, or rather two doors down. My neighbor has been evicted. Or rather, eviction papers were served a few days ago -- posted on her door, and I'm nosy so I looked -- but she moved out a couple weeks ago.

Until recently my neighbor and I had a cordial relationship. She moved in a few months before I did, so we've lived -- separated by one apartment -- on this hall for the last six years. We weren't close, but we knew each other's names and we occasionally had conversations in the hall. This was all before she went really and totally crazy.

It started with the simple shredding of menus that are annoyingly left on our doors. Then one day when I drove up in my car and parked next to hers (leaving a wide gap), she flipped out on me, using some choice four letter words. Her issue with my parking? I usually park on the first floor of our parking garage and then climb up to our floor, but due to chronic foot problems, I started parking on the same level as the apartment to avoid the impact of the stairs on my feet. The point was -- she took offense at my parking on our floor instead of my usual first floor parking, even though we don't have assigned parking in our garage (she did pay a monthly fee for an assigned spot though). She came out and apologized a few minutes later but I was spooked enough that I moved my car several parking spots away from her. We never spoke again.

Her behavior slowly escalated from shredding menus in the hallway to leaving strange post-it notes on her door with messages like "DO NOT ENTER; MY APARTMENT IS ALARMED." She then started leaving notes in the garage, some of them pretty offensive. One day she was walking around the garage in what seemed to be her underwear, but was really just a tanktop over her bikini. I found this odd because the pool is over there and not over here and most women cover-up when not around the immediate pool area. About two weeks before she moved out, she left post-it notes and flowers on my Prius; all of the notes were essentially incoherent saying things like "I've given all my stuff to the Salvation Army." I wish I had kept them now because I don't really remember anymore than that one note out of the six posted on my car. In retrospect, I wonder if there was a message there for me, some sign I should have paid more attention too.

It was alarming and I was contemplating saying something to the apartment office. I spoke to Florida Girl, who is a mental health professional in the ER, and asked what was up. She said that my neighbor's behavior sounded suspiciously like someone who was off her meds -- i.e. going from normal to crazy in no time flat. She asked if my neighbor had lost her job recently and I said I didn't know; we hadn't spoken since her four-letter word barrage. Florida Girl said she was seeing a lot of cases in the ER that were similar to what I was describing -- people had lost their jobs, couldn't afford their medications and/or were spacing the dosage out to make the medication last longer, and the results could be dangerous.

Anyway, my neighbor is gone. She has moved out and I'm not going to know what happened here. I'm assuming that she lost her job, went off medication (if she had been on medication), and then fled when she could no longer pay rent. Clearly the apartment complex didn't know she was gone if they left eviction notes on her door. I'm definitely sad because I don't like how our acquaintance ended, but at the same time, her behavior was so odd and alarming that I couldn't help but keep my distance. While I knew something was wrong, I also didn't feel like we were close enough or that I knew her well enough to ask what was up or offer any assistance. Mea culpa.

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