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Vice Blog


A few years ago, after ending a really shitty relationship, I moved into a dank little studio apartment above a candy shop in an unknown suburb of Illinois. The landlord was a short Italian man who was about 1,000 years old. He ran an antique store, and the night I met with him there to sign the lease on my apartment, he told me that my only neighbor, a middle aged guy named Bill, was a big drunk. I asked if he was an angry drunk, and the landlord said no, so I didn't think any more of it.


After living there for a few months with no problems, the dead of winter rolled around and I began hearing very strange noises coming from next door. It sounded as if my neighbor was basically having a fit and losing his mind on the other side of my bathroom wall. A variety of mental images came to me upon hearing these noises, and they mostly involved what I just knew had to be a naked man, crying, pouring hard liquor on his head while rubbing his monthlong beard growth on the other side of my vanity mirror.

The first night this all went down, I moved a bunch of shit in front of my door, certain that I would be raped in my sleep if left unprotected. Or even worse, I would pass Bill in the hallway and have to exchange chitter-chat with him, after hearing his juicy beer farts and mental crying the whole previous evening. A few times, while frequenting the candy shop beneath me, I would exchange gossip with the shop owners and learn about how Bill had flooded his toilet and bathtub into their shop at least a dozen times, and how they had to have a talk with him over him insisting on having his anti-drinking meds shipped via UPS to their store.

I began to hate Bill. His drinking fits would happen in spurts, and I learned to ride them out as if they were happening to me personally. I also grew annoyed with his attempts at white-washing his craziness by slipping notes under my door from time to time, saying things like, "I have leftover steak from last night, if you'd like some," or "Sorry if you think your neighbor is Hannibal Lecter."


One night I had a few visitors over, and while enjoying a plate of pot brownies, I became stricken with paranoia that Bill was on the other side of the door. I could hear him breathing, and the whole apartment seemed to suck in and bloat out with the rhythm of his pickled breath. In between spurts of hysterical laughter with my friends over God knows what, I would open the door to my home and throw things from the kitchen down the stairs, hoping to scare him away. Each time I opened the door I was sure that he'd be standing there like the boogey-man.

One night his drunken yelling got so out of hand that I called the cops. I usually subscribe to a "no snitching" policy, but hearing someone basically go OHOHHOHOHOAHSOHAOSHOHA for an hour straight can really wear on a person. When the cops finally arrived, they came in and spoke to me briefly, and then went over to talk to Bill. A few minutes passed and they returned to tell me that he was smashed out of his mind and sunburnt to a crisp. This scared the shit out of me for some reason because, as it was still winter, I could only assume that he had been abducted by aliens.

After the cops talked to Bill, I didn't hear a peep from next door for a few weeks. But during a long weekend, I was distracted by his noises while trying to watch The Chronicles of Narnia. In between Aslan this and Aslan that I could hear Bill, holed up in his bathroom, apparently turning into a werewolf. Something snapped inside my brain and I jumped up from the couch, grabbed some pots and pans from under the sink, and started banging them and screaming, "Why don't you just kill yourself?!" at the top of my lungs. I screamed until my lungs hurt and I had a throbbing headache. And then I never heard a noise from Bill again.

My workweek started and I would return home each evening to get my mail from the box downstairs, and notice that Bill wasn't collecting his. I figured he was embarrassed about our screaming match, and was laying low for a while. Once his mail started piling up, I began bringing it up for him and placing it outside his door. The peace and quiet was nice, but I started wondering why I hadn't seen him, heard him, or even heard his toilet flush in like five days. And then there was a smell. After the fifth day of silence, once I opened the main door to the building and started walking up the stairs, the air was filled with a thick sweetness. It smelled like a butterscotch candy wrapped in semen. I called my landlord to see if he had spoken to Bill recently, and he acted like he didn't even know who I was talking about. So I called the cops again.

Moral of the story is that the cops came and it was discovered that my neighbor had been rotting away right next to my face for a week. So don't scream "Kill yourself" to your neighbors when they're drunk, because then they'll die and you'll have that on your conscience for the rest of your life.