They’re In This Thing Together

October 2, 2010

I’d been living in the apartment building for about six months when a guy named Craig moved in next door.  It’s a small building, eight single rooms total, but the residents are mostly rejects, freaks, and everyone keeps to themselves.  I passed Craig in the hall a few times, and we exchanged nods but that was it.  He seemed like an odd duck but generally harmless.  We left each other alone.

One night I woke up at two in the morning to the sound of Craig screaming.  He was really going at it.  “All homosexuals are retards!” he yelled.  “Never trust a homosexual!  Never trust a retard!  They’re in this thing together!”  After that he began yelling about niggers.  Apparently there was a government plot that involved homosexuals, retards, and niggers.  Something to do with Hollywood movies and chemicals in the tap water.  To be honest it didn’t make much sense.

After about twenty minutes Craig calmed down and I went to sleep.  The next day I saw him in the hall and I said hello for the first time.  He mumbled something back but didn’t make eye contact with me.  He seemed embarrassed about his outburst and I felt sort of sympathetic toward the guy.  It was obvious he had some form of Tourette’s and couldn’t help himself.  I don’t have an official disorder but I constantly feel compelled to say and do inappropriate things in public.  I identify with weirdos.

Craig didn’t have a job but he had a hobby.  Every day he would stand in front of a sandwich shop about two blocks from our apartment building and dance to techno music.  He didn’t have a Walkman or an iPod, so the music must have been playing in his head.  He stood out there for hours, writhing around like a hypnotized snake, his eyes closed, a serene smile on his lips.  It was the only time he seemed happy.  He always wore a hooded parka, sunglasses, long pants, and gloves.  He duct taped the gloves to the sleeves of his parka.  He also taped his pant legs to his shoes.  He was afraid of touching things, or of things touching him.  I didn’t know which.

As the weeks passed Craig’s outbursts became more frequent.  There’s a community bathroom on our floor, and he started sneaking in there late at night to scream and slam the toilet lids.  SLAM!  “Faggots are retards!”  SLAM!  “The pigs are after me!”  SLAM!

It was the blond hippie girl in apartment nine who finally complained about him.  I heard her telling the landlord that she was concerned about her safety.  I didn’t blame her for that.  The guy was weird and some of the stuff he yelled was really offensive.  I suppose I could have defended him to the landlord but I didn’t.  I let him get kicked out.

Craig didn’t sound surprised when the landlord told him to leave.  I heard that conversation too.  Instead of giving him the real reason, the landlord said he needed to “repaint the apartment.”  There were no other rooms available, so Craig would have to move out of the building.  The landlord apologized but he didn’t sound sorry.  I thought this would be a prime opportunity for Craig to fly off the handle, but he didn’t.  He just said, “I’ll be gone by the end of the week.”  This had obviously happened to him before.

The apartment building is located on University Hill, and most of the people who live around here are college students.  There are five frat houses and three sorority houses on our block.  At night they throw parties.  They get drunk and vomit on the lawn and yell offensive things at each other.  “Stop being such a faggot!”  I hear that at least once a week.  “You’re a cunt!”  “Eat my dick!”  “Fuck you, you cocksucking homo!”  As far as I know, no one has asked them to leave.  They’re just kids having fun.

Craig still dances in front of the sandwich shop, but not every day.  I don’t know where he’s living now.  Sometimes people walking by will point at him and laugh.  I’ve seen a few take pictures of him with their cellphones.  Craig barely seems to notice.  He closes his eyes and sways to the music in his head, untouched by the world around him.

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