Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"I'm not dead"

My ex-neighbor at the apartment complex I just left was an older German man that I called Horst. We were friendly in the way that neighbors who share a common staircase should be friendly but we weren't really close. Just small talk on the way up or down those stairs, That kind of thing, We got along just fine.

Relevant to this story, I'm embarrassed by my stuff. I own a lot of toys and sports memorabilia and assorted silly things that I like but can't justify owning beyond my own personal preferences. Not that I need to justify that to anyone but  I'm a little self-conscious about things I shouldn't be. In seven years, I had company over very few times. It's just one of my delightful hang-ups. Because of this, I made up a story for the benefit of the movers who came over last weekend, two guys I was paying to do a job who don't know me and I would never see again and who could probably care less. These are the people to whom it was very important to present a cool front. What I told them was it was my brother's apartment. He just died and on behalf of my family, I flew into town with the task to taking care of his stuff. I made up a brother and faked my own death through him for the purpose of proving to guys who see people in terms of cardboard boxes that I wasn't some pathetic nerd.
"Yeah, I have no idea what half this crap even is. Be very careful with that one."
Over the course of the afternoon, they made several trips up and downstairs. I stayed in the apartment, directing. At one point, I heard Horst come out of his apartment and he spoke to one of the movers.
HORST: "Moving some things out, eh?"
MOVER: "Yep. Moving everything out."
HORST: "Where is the owner?"
MOVER: "He died."
ME (to myself): "Uh-oh."
I hid inside and Horst went on his way. About an hour later, the movers finished up and left. I hung back a few minutes to make sure they got everything. When I left, I got to the top of the stairs and saw Horst halfway up.

HORST: "You're alive!"
ME: "Um. Yep."
HORST: "Those men, they said you were dead."
ME: "What? They did? I'm not dead. That's nutty, huh?"

Horst looked concerned. "They took your things. Is everything okay?", he asked. I told him, "Oh yeah. Everything is fine. I'm just moving out, that's all. Those guys are working for me today." "Moving out?", he asked. "But why?" He seemed troubled. He had no idea I wanted out. I put a hand gently on his shoulder and said, "Because, Horst", I said. "Because this place sucks balls." He still looked confused and said, "My name is not Horst."
I'm going to miss him.

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