By: J.J. Cheesman
Recently I had to move from my home. The new job I’d landed was about an hour away from where I worked, so changing location was only natural. I found an affordable one bedroom apartment that was perfect for me, and I rushed in as quickly as possible. My first night there though, I ran into a small issue.
I lay in bed, ready to get some shut-eye before my first day at work, when I heard squeaking from the other side of the room. Sitting up in bed, I peered through the dark. The slow-metallic squeak crept ever closer along the far wall, and ended near my closet. Then there was a sound like air escaping a pipe, then came a sharp *thud*.
I sat in quiet for a few moments, not daring to move and slightly freaked out. The hot water heater was on the other side of my closet, and I’d taken a shower before bed, so I decided that was what was making the racket and laid back in bed. There were no more disturbances that night, and I slept soundly.
In the morning, I got dressed and filled a thermos full of coffee before heading out the door. I made a mental note to talk with the landlord later about the funny sound the pipes were making. As I locked the door to the apartment, the neighbor across the hall popped his head out. She was a small mousey woman, and her voice cracked slightly as she spoke.
“How did you sleep on your first night?” She asked.
“Oh, good I guess, thank you for asking.” I told her, a little startled.
“I hear it from your apartment when I’m coming home from work late at night, you know.”
“What do you mean?”
She sighed, and shook her head.
“Listen, that crooked landlord of ours probably didn’t say a thing, but the guy who lived in there before you had it bad. He was a handicapped fellow, in a wheelchair ya know? I guess it made him real down. He had depression and a couple other mental issues as well.”
I nodded, and she continued.
“Anyway, one night he came home and got pretty hammered. After that, he wheeled right into his bedroom closet, and threw a plastic bag over his head. He suffocated to death.”
He suffocated, I thought, and it probably sounded like air escaping a pipe
“They didn’t find him until his rent was way past due and the landlord came looking. They found him face down on the ground.”
She didn’t have to speak any further, I knew what she was going to say.
“Thing is, I thought it was a joke at first. His wheelchair was old, real squeaky, ya know? So loud that I could hear it from my apartment, and I hear it every night still.”