Monday afternoon, when I had returned from work, I laid down for moment or two and nearly fell asleep. Not wanting to nod off for hours, I forced myself up and began tidying up a bit from a full weekend of activities. Among the whatnot that needed to be cleaned up were the exuberant amount of cat litter scattered around my hardwood floor. Apparently, Whiskey and Jameson enjoy grabbing 'paw'-fuls of kitty litter and launching the poop sand as far away from the cat box as they can. So I spend the next 15 to 20 minutes vacuuming up their mess.
It happens again, then I unlock the door and slowly open it. There I find my upstairs neighbor (the one directly above me), Rick, fumbling with his keys. He is an older gentlemen (late 50s, early 60s) who, if you look at him the right way, could be mistaken for your hard livin' department store Santa. He's short, long gray hair mixed with the black strands of what it looked like when he wore a younger man's clothes, as well as a full raggedy beard of the same make up.
Kind of wobbling in his wife beater shirt and baggy denim jeans, he looks up at me through his wire rimmed glasses while leaning to the left on the support of his cane, "Hey... Craig," in a surprised sounding tone, "you think I could borrow that vacuum?" Having asked me about it before, I didn't mind. "Sure, you can use it when ever you need It," as he then casually hobbles his way past me and into my apartment. Looking around with lazy, but curious eyes, "Niiiccee! Lookin' pretty good Craig." I'm then reminded of how his slow, deliberate delivery of speech tends to come off as creepy to me.
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"Um...thanks", as I then watch him crutch through my front room into my dining area and begin flipping though the pile of junk mail on my table. "What's your girlfriend's name?", he questions.
Girlfriend? You mean the one who moved out suddenly five months ago and hasn't been seen or heard from since - is what I think to myself. Since he simply doesn't know any better and I just don't want to explain, I entertain his inquiry, "It's Elizabeth."
"How much do you want for that fishing pole?," he asks out of nowhere without looking up, as if my various credit card offers and Morehead State Alumni mailers have somehow sparked his memory of what I had in my failed attempt at a yard sale the week before. Completely weirded out by his boldness and lack of respect for anything, I search for some words to respond. "Well, I haven't used it in probably five years. How much do you have?", I say jokingly as I attempt to make myself feel less invaded.
"I have... about... $35."
"That's okay, I was just kidding. You can have it if you like?," as I turn towards my closet to retrieve it. While digging through boxes, I hear him move the stools next to my high top kitchen table across the floor. Peaking around the corner, I see him inspecting the seats. He then smirks and shakes his head in an approving manner.
Returning with the fishing pole, along with a small tackle box and trying to ignore what I just witnessed, "You can have this, too, if you like. There isn't much there, but I will probably never use it again either."
"Cool, thanks Craig," as he examines the pole and tackle box in a similar manner as my kitchen furniture. He follows that with, "Can I have your cell phone?", and sets the fishing pole and tackle box aside.
"... you mean ... my phone number...?"
"Sure, I can write it down for you." I grab the pen and notepad that was also in the pile of junk mail he rifled through, jot it down and hand it to him.
"Do you want mine?"
Wary and ready to defend myself in case even more weirdness evolves, I force a friendly voice, "Why not." I'm standing ready with the pen in hand and hear him slur, "four...ten.."
To make sure I'm comprehending I repeat back to him, "four, one, zero..."
"One, zero six..."
"One, six, six, five."
Before I know it he wobbles over to a shelf of displayed items and starts playing around with them, "So... does your apartment look like mine?"
|Funny, yes, but you don't know|
how much this looks like Rick
He had been browsing, moving things around and rifling through stuff because he couldn't figure out what they were or where they had come from. Unknowingly, he missed his actual apartment by one floor and a thousand brain cells. Who knew I could be the pied piper of pot heads with cat litter and a vacuum.
Thoroughly annoyed, I force a chuckle, "Well, this is... MY... apartment and yes, they are set up the same way."
"Ohhh yeeaah," as he laughs to himself.
I watch him grab an old broken pocket watch off of my shelf and study it, "Do you think she (our building manager) will be by to get the rent today?"
"That's what she indicated when she was here on Saturday fixing the washer downstairs," as I observe him walk into my kitchen and attach the watch to a belt loop and slide it into his pocket without the slightest attempt to hide it. He turns around, gawking at his new found piece of jewelry, and proudly walks past me and back into my front room. He starts flipping through some magazines and a notepad I have on an end table.
"Yeah, I had to go down to Rite Aid and get a money order for that this afternoon."
"Oh, really?", feigning any sort of interest.
"Yeah....hey, do you have any wrenches?"
His randomness is killing me, "I have plenty of screwdrivers and such, but I'm not sure I have any wrenches." I head over to a bookshelf with a set of drawers and dig through what has become my junk stash. Moments later, pulling out a multi-tool which has a wrench attachment - and holding it up so he can see it - and closing the drawer, "I think this is about all I have."
"I might be able to use that," as he moves over to me and nonchalantly opens the drawer I had just closed and starts searching for what I assume to be buried treasure. I watch in complete disbelief and amazement. He pulls out several things and lays them on the shelf above, then spots a pair of sunglasses.
"Where did you get these?"
"I bought those a few years ago"
"...How much? I don't know $10, $15 dollars," as he puts his glasses in his pocket and puts on the sunglasses. Glancing around for a moment or two, he spots a pile of change. Like a kid in a candy store he sets aside all the pennies while slowly picking up the few silver coins, placing them in his pocket.
You have got to be kidding me...this is really happening
He picks up my keys and focus' on the one to my car, which is the kind that flips out with the push of a button, like a switchblade and seems confused. "Huh, I'm not sure what I would do with this thing?," all the while pushing every button.
Staring in frustration, I try to help him out, "It starts my car, it's a car key." I reach and take the keys from him (having to shake them a bit to loosen his grip) to make sure they, too, aren't hijacked by Mr. Klepto and hoping he doesn't trigger the panic/alarm button. He slowly walks back over to my kitchen table, sits down and looks out the window like he's waiting for dinner.
"Do you fertilize?
"Your plants, do you fertilize?"
"Oh, every now and then. I typically just water them once or twice a week."
Diligently trying to get everything back into my junk drawer, he sees me and quips, "Hey, feel free to take anything you want there." WHAT?! Of course I will, it's mine you trippin' numbskull - I LIVE HERE! I'm not taking anything, I'm putting it back!
Reminding myself I have to see him everyday, I try not to be a complete ass. "Rick, buddy, I have some errands and stuff I have to get out of the way. So...."
"Well, you gotta do what you gotta do," and he stays put, continuing to gawk out my kitchen window. Hello, Rick? Are you still in there? YOU DON'T LIVE HERE! I walk over to him and move the fishing pole and tackle box to his side.
"Hey, do you got any chili?", while still staring blankly out the window with my sunglasses on.
Chili..? CHILI....?? WHAT?! Where the hell am I!?
"No, Rick, sorry. I'm not sure what I'll be having for dinner, I haven't decided. Speaking of, I have to get some things out of the way, including dinner...so...I'm going to have to see you out brother." Again, he doesn't move, only shifts in his (MY) seat.
The catatonic state continues for a moment or two as he remains seated and I'm standing five feet away - wide-eyed and astonished - with only the sound of my ceiling fan clicking above. One last time, I grab the fishing pole and tackle box and push it toward him. I'm now physically poking him with the fishing pole like I'm testing to see if some fresh roadkill is actually dead.
Suddenly he turns his head toward me, holy crap - I must have hit the power button. I gather myself, "Rick, I have to see you out man. I have some things to do."
"Okayyy man," his body moves in slow motion up off of my kitchen stool, "I plan to go catfishin' a few times this week." He stands, grabs his cane, new fishing pole and tackle box - along with my sunglasses still on his head, my broken watch hanging off of his belt loop and my spare change in his pocket - and shuffles toward my door.
"See you around Craig, thanks for the fishin' pole." What?! No "Thank You" for everything else you've taken...my stuff...my time...my faith in humanity.
|The Someplace Else Bar.|
Looks better with the Hooters bus out front, doesn't it?
Still reeling from the trip to bizzaro world, I find the piece of paper with his phone number on it as well as the one with my phone number. I threw both of them in the trash, and some relief comes over me. I then spot his half utilized "cigarette" next to my kitchen sink. That, too, found the trash - though I took some solace in the fact I did at least get something of his.
This, I imagine, would be how one would beckon St. Rick...similar to The Bat-Signal....
'Twas the eve of summer and not a creature was stirring, except creepy, high as a kite St. Rick wandering Marion in his wife beater and sunglasses - with his fishing pole, tackle box, pocket watch and loose change - on the never ending quest to satisfy his need for a tasty bowl of chili.