I walk out my apartment and am greeted by a rail thin woman with fried burgundy hair, tight black jeans and a fall-inspired wool striped wool sweater. She smiles warmly at me as though she knows me.
I have never seen this woman before in my life.
She heads downstairs and out the front door. I see her sitting on the marble steps in a patch of sunshine a few minutes later as I am wiping down the smeared glass of the main entrance. I head downstairs to clean the laundry room, then to the maintenance room to grab the ladder and the for rent signs. As I approach the front of the building I hear voices. The mystery woman is talking to two girls, all of whom are sitting on the front steps. I wave to the two new girls who are waiting for me to show them the available apartment and introduce myself, apologizing for not being in my apartment when they buzzed me. Meanwhile mystery lady is there, having yammered on and on about tattoos to them while they waited patiently.
After putting away the ladder, I make my way to the front entrance and let the two girls in. The mystery lady says to them, “There she is! Oh you’ll just love her! She’s great!” She’s talking about me. I say to her a bit baffled and incredulous, “I’m sorry. Do I know you?” She smiles and says, “YEAH! I’m Heidi. From upstairs.” She points with a bony finger to the top of the building.
I have never rented a unit to this woman.
I only saw this woman minutes before as she came down from the top floor. That is it. I’m very good with faces and names. I would remember.
The girls and I head inside and they breathe an audible sigh of relief saying that she was WEIRD and was talking their ears off about a bunch of nonsense. She apparently was trying but failing to remember my name. (How does she know my name!?) I apologize and tell them that she does not live in the building. We all kind of look at each other quizzically, confused as to why she’s acting like she lives here. I show them the available unit, we chat and they go. That’s when I run into the Music Man who has appointed himself Building Guard & Gossip (a side service). He bursts out with,
“Did you hear what happened this morning?”
He sits down on the top step leading into the maintenance room and dives right in, “I was heading out of the building when I encountered a woman sobbing hysterically on the second floor landing steps. She was bleeding from the hands and was acting as though she’d just been choked. She couldn’t catch her breath. She reeked of alcohol! I asked her if she needed help but she couldn’t seem to speak. I guided her outside and then called the cops. They arrived- two cars!- but she had headed towards the main street by then. That other girl that lives next to the fighting lesbians saw her too. She’s been in this building before and the cops came then too.”
“What?! When!? ” Wondering internally how do I not hear these things from my apartment. Good Lord.
“A few months back.”
“Well I saw a woman coming from the top floor that I did not recognize. Was she slender with black jeans, a sweater and blunt bangs and fried burgundy hair?”
“Hmmm, she must know someone in the building then because she doesn’t live here. I’ll go ask around on the top floor and see if anyone knows anything. I’m going to CSI this mystery just you watch.”
“Oh thank you sweetie. You’re such a doll. And so good at your job. And you just look so PRETTY.” He does this. Over-compliments in times of well, always. He always does this.
I head upstairs and start knocking on doors. The first door no one is home. The second door a female tenant in a robe with serious bed head answers and has no idea what I am talking about. The third door gets no response. The fourth door opens and V says that YES he did see that woman earlier when his wife left. He said, “This is going to seem strange but I have to demonstrate how she looked.” He got down on his knees in front of me facing the apartment door, pretending to clutch a cell phone in his hands like he was praying to the Verizon gods. We laughed uneasily at the visual. Mystery Lady AKA Heidi apparently said to his wife as she left, “It isn’t as bad as it looks.” He also said that she had been there before and the cops came then too. And BINGO both times she has been seen with his next door neighbor, whom I will refer to as Twitch.
A Ha! I am totally a detective.
Armed with this new information, I march to Twitch’s door only to discover he is not home (or inside passed out). I call his cell and leave a message. A day goes by with no response. I call again and leave another message. If this nutjob has a key to the building, I need to nip that in the bud pronto. We end up running into each other Monday morning as he is coming in and I am heading out to work. This is how different our lifestyles are.
“I wanted to ask you about someone named Heidi. Do you know her?”
“Yes, she’s a friend of mine. Why what happened?”
I give him the condensed version. “Well apparently she was seen kneeling in front of your apartment door at one point then later choking and sobbing and bleeding from her hands on the second floor landing. A concerned tenant called the cops to get her help. She smelled strongly of vodka.”
Sheepishly he says, “Oh geez. She’s a really sweet lady and she is my friend. She’s been having a rough time of it and didn’t take her medication and instead drank. I’m sorry. She doesn’t have a key to the building. We’d had a fight but it wasn’t a big deal. I went fell asleep and when I woke up she wasn’t there so I got up and locked my door. She must have got locked out and I didn’t hear her knocking because I went back to bed. I’m really embarrassed this happened.”
This is not the first time he has brought someone questionable into the building and it has been brought to my attention. The last guy, high on something, threatened another tenant in the hallway. He’s already been warned.
Putting on my stern but understanding manager voice, “I get that she’s harmless but it does make your neighbors uneasy. I wanted you to know what had happened. I’m trusting you will make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Clearly uncomfortable, he starts up the stairs backwards saying, “Yes, yes, totally. Sorry again.”