we had returned from dinner at mango's with darren to the sound of muffled male voices through the walls.
i glanced through the sliding glass door to gaze upon my lovely sprouting babies on the balcony, as i am wont to do, and i noticed a half-smoked cigarette butt strewn about the virginal bed of soil caressing my black-eyed susan vine seeds of the sunrise surprise variety. well!
naturally, i called brian into LR2 to see what he was going to do about it. he stepped out onto the kelly green astro turf and plucked the offending carcinogen from my once pristine pot and held it up so i could see the cancer stick was still glowing in its ember regions. well!
brian puckered up his lips like so many cervices laden with child and marched past helen's door, down the stairs, and to the sidewalk where he snuffed the cigarette to smoky-the-bear safety before marching back up and peeking through helen's blinds as he passed.
he confirmed there were two males of middle aged status... likely of the red-necked variety, we nodded in agreement.
after exasperating my vociferications of rage and exhausting my feelings of violation, i went to bed. brian later informed me that when he strolled back out towards LR2 in order to go to his bathroom, he saw the two alleged hooligans back outside smoking AND looking in our door. when brian exited his bathroom 10 minutes later, he found yet ANOTHER cigarette butt in my black-eyed susan vines-to-be. the bastards!
brian plucked once again and this time set the evidence in front of helen's door on that blustery night.
i continued to voice my belief that the offenders had entered our apartment as the lock on the sliding glass door was only halfway lowered for some mysterious reason and the lock unengaged. the felonious thugs!
the following day, we departed early for tyler and shower #2 of 2. more to come later...
we returned sunday night and darren came over to fill out invitations for E's shower which we're co-hosting during my last days as a single person and we scoured two targets for party supplies, coffee, and one large chocolate chunk cookie. two hours later, we returned with exactly one packet of napkins. i left darren in the parking lot upon our return and began my lonely ascent up the staircase to our balcony. the closer i got, the more alarmed i became when i realized that beeping sound was a smoke alarm and that smell was smoke. i banged on our sliding glass door until brian deigned to let me in and i waited to see what he was going to do about it.
he marched over to LR1 and exited the other entrance and knocked on helen's door. by the time i had arrived, he was signaling the universal sign to stay hushed and listen. helen had already mentioned something along the lines of "it's alllll right. i just left the broiler on. it's allll right." i wasn't convinced she was talking to us as the door was still shut and i thought i could hear her hobbling about in there as if coming to the door and because she was talking about her broiler in much the same tone she reserves for her detailed and anthropomorphic conversations with wishbone. she sing-songed a few more times and we finally stopped doing our let's-stay-no-let's-go dance in the hallway and fully engaged reversal with a backward tiptoe into our abode. i wasn't certain i felt much better knowing helen had left her broiler on.
yesterday, as i was rolling toward the gate to exit our parking lot for the lovers lane usps, i did my best to avoid running over helen and wishbone as they slowly and painfully ambled back toward the building. she signaled at me and mouthed "stop", so i did. she had had difficulty opening the gate for their afternoon walk. she asked me what the code was. i broke it down for her loudly and clearly and in two groups of two numbers. she repeated them and then said she had added in an extra number. never mind that she successfully uses that same code on multiple occasions each day for who knows how many years. she asked me to try using the code instead of my remote to make sure. i watched her face in my rearview mirror as the gate slid obediently open. she looked perturbed.
perhaps she was perturbed because she knew a loud and angry-sounding woman was to arrive at her condo soon and stay the night shouting loud and angry-sounding words at her about electric bills and who knows what all else. perhaps she was perturbed because the gate was not effectively broken and able to cradle her safely inside its metal arms... alone.