For Whom the Bell Tolls

   Right after graduating from college, I was living in this crappy apartment in the Village.  It had high ceilings, it was drafty, it was cold in the winter and hot in the summer, the hot water was M.I.A., and the street traffic was noisy as hell.  It was tough to get much sleep around there until after 3:00 AM.  That's when all the nuts took their meds and went sleepy.  I had been living in there for about three months.  One day I come home and notice someone moving in down the hall.  As I pass by, he is coming out of his door.  I said, "Hi. My name is Roman welcome to the building."  He replied, "Hi there.  I'm Charlie."  We shook hands and moved along.  I didn't want to get roped into helping him lug boxes into the building. 

   So a few days passed and I saw Charlie a few times.  We nodded in silent recognition of each other as we passed.  On one particular encounter he informed me he would be starting a late shift at work and he would be gone most of the night.  He said he probably wouldn't be getting home until 4:00 AM or so.  And if I didn't mind, to watch out for any packages that might be delivered by the mail box.  I said sure and moved on with my day.

  So that night I had finally fallen asleep around 3:00 AM.  The next thing I know my intercom buzzer is going off.  I get up, walk over to the door in the dark, stub my toe, and feel around for the button.  I say, "Yeah, what is it?"  The voice comes back, "Yeah Roman it's me, Charlie.  Did I get any packages?"  I hang my head in disgust.  I say, "No Charlie!  This could have waited until morning."  He said, "Oh sorry.  I would probably be asleep when you left, so I didn't want to miss you."  I hesitantly replied, "It's OK Charlie...just don't wake me up again."  It took me over an hour to get back to sleep.  My toe was throbbing.

   The next night I get to sleep around 3:00 AM again.  Next thing I know, the intercom buzzer rings.  I look at the clock 3:58 AM.  I think to myself, "NO WAY!"  I get to the button, "What?"  The voice slowly comes back, "Ummm...oh...hey Roman...ummm did I get a package today?"  Angrily I retort, "Charlie you douche bag I told you not to wake me up again!"  He said, "Oh, I thought you were talking about last night."  I was spitting venom now, "Goddamn you!  Don't wake me EVER AGAIN!"

   The next night I get to sleep around 3:00 AM again.  Next thing I know, the intercom buzzer rings.  I look at the clock 4:01 AM.  I am actually a bit amused.  I chuckle manically.  I don't get up.  It rings again.  I can't take it.  I answer it and say, "Charlie if this is you so help me Jesus I will gut you like a trout."  There is silence.  Then I hear a voice, "Ummm dis no Cha-lie.  Eets ummm...eets..."  I interrupt, "Goddamn it Charlie I know it's you.  Are you a fucking moron or something?"  Charlie says, "OK, it's me.  I just really have to make sure that package isn't here."  I reply, "What is so fucking important about this package?"  Charlie says, "You see my dad passed away last week and he was cremated.  There is no other family, so the funeral home is Fed-Ex-ing the ashes to me."  I hang my head and swallow hard, "Oh...Hey, I'm sorry man.  Why didn't you just tell me that?  It didn't come today.  I promise I'll leave you a note when it does.  OK Charlie?!"  He said, "OK thanks Roman...sorry to wake you."

   The next evening, I am still feeling bad for snapping at Charlie.  I had made some spaghetti for dinner and had lots leftover.  I put a bunch in some Tupperware and placed it outside Charlie's door.  Then, before going to sleep, I put a note outside on the intercom and it read:"Charlie, Still no package today.  I will keep my eyes peeled.  I had some leftover dinner and put it by your apartment door.  Talk to you tomorrow.  Roman"

   The next morning I get up and get ready for work.  As I am leaving, I stop at the front door and buzz Charlie's intercom.  He answers with a groggy, "Yeah?"  I say, "Hey Charlie, it's Roman.  I just wanted to say sorry for the other night."  Charlie said, "It's OK.  I was being a pest."  I said, "Did you like the spaghetti?"  He said, "Yeah.  Thanks.  That hit the spot last night."  I cheerfully replied, "Good! I'm glad you did.  I'm sure that's the way your dad would have wanted it."  There was a pause.  Then Charlie said, "What is that supposed to mean?"  I laughed and said, "I had to thicken up the spaghetti sauce with something Charlie...your dad's ashes worked quite well.  See around dick."  I whistled nearly all the way to work.




Uploaded 12/05/2009
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