Someone’s moved into #4
I watched from my window. It was snowing that day. Not heavy, just light. A rough looking white cube van pulled up. The swishing sound of tires on wet pavement got my attention. The brakes squeaked when it came to a stop out front. I was in my kitchen digging burnt rye toast out of the toaster with a butter knife when the van pulled up. I set the knife down, pulled my housecoat tight, walked to the front window and pulled back the drapes.
A beautiful woman with long curly dark hair and glasses got out of the van. Two men followed. She pointed to the second floor window that belongs to #4. I’m in #2 on the main floor. She didn’t notice me watching.
Soon furniture of all shapes and sizes, along with boxes big and small, flowed out of the back of the cube van. The two men did most of the heavy lifting. The woman carried a large framed photograph up the front steps and disappeared from view. The dull sound of footsteps on the stairs pushed against my apartment door. It was a Tuesday morning.
From a small transistor radio on my fridge, the Beetles asked, “All the lonely people, where do they all come from?” At the time I thought that that was ironic but “coincidental” probably describes it best.
I stopped watching after about five minutes or so and went back to what was now cold, burnt toast trapped in my toaster. I freed it and tossed it in the garbage, then set the kettle to make a cup of instant coffee. Outside my door heavy boots thumped the stairs for another 45 minutes. When it finally stopped I went to the front window again and watched the truck drive off with the two men. The sounds of things being moved about upstairs reverberated through my ceiling as the woman in #4 unpacked and settled in.
Let me offer a small admission. That night when I sat at my kitchen table over a bowl of microwaved clam chowder with crackers I imagined what it might be like to have dinner with #4. Not here. Not in my apartment. At a proper restaurant. I pictured the sort of sparkling dialogue you see in movies, where the leading man sweeps the woman off her feet with his charm. That’s not going to happen but it was fun imagining it.
It’s been a week now. I have not met #4 yet. I don’t get out much and I wouldn’t know what to say if I did meet her. I’m not good in social situations.
I’ve seen her twice from my window. Once alone carrying a basket of laundry from the laundromat and another time with a man. It seemed to me that he was walking her home from something – perhaps a movie. It was after 9:30 on a Saturday night. They stood out front chatting for a while. The streetlamp illuminated a wide circle around them, as if they were on stage. The odd car passed by, kicking up slush as it did. He never took his eyes off her. I couldn’t see her eyes. Finally he pulled up his collar to the cold and left. She turned and headed inside. He looked back once.
They didn’t kiss but my guess is that he wanted to. I know that look. There’s nothing like the lead up to a first kiss, is there.
Afterwards, I sat down on my couch and flipped through the channels in my darkened living room and thought about the woman in #4, decided right there and then to put her out of my mind.
The Lazy Photographer - Book 1, now available: