Now that this hemisphere has tipped towards spring, a few rays of sun angle into the shaftway and light my cave on Atlantic Avenue, like Stonehenge. It’s a good little place, and though I scour craigslist for new apartments every day, I’ll miss it when the sublet runs out. The hum of Björn’s private server rack is comforting, and he is open-hearted enough to share his Linux root password with a strange sublessee. From the roof I can watch the ferries passing the Statue of Liberty.
Consuela lives downstairs. She is in her eighties, and though she was born and raised here, she speaks fluent Spanish. Even in English, she has a Veracruzeña accent. I find this very peculiar. Could my Brooklyn-raised sprogs speak a Limerick creole in 2090? I can barely maintain my own accent.
Consuela is the self-appointed building superintendent, and she likes to pop out in her nightie to scold passing residents. She squawks at me for carrying my bike up the broken stairs.
“Be careful! You’ll ruin da walls!” It is not possible to damage to these rice-pudding walls aesthetically, but to oblige her (and avoid her) I now lock my bike to the parking meter downstairs. Two chains, front and back wheels, though Atlantic is safer than Limerick.
She runs some kind of numbers game, we think, because there is stream of visitors bearing slips of paper and dollar bills. When she gets bored, she screeches up the stairs.
“Ana! Aaaaaa-na!” It sounds as though she has fallen and is horribly injured, especially late at night, but she just wants a chat. Eventually Ana shuffles out and leans over the bannister, and they gossip rapidly. The day I moved in (and Bjorn moved out) Ana was worried. “El guapo se fue?” she asked Tim. Yes, he told her, the cute guy was gone. She would have to make do with him now.
Also downstairs, directly below, is a mean and crazy pregnant lady, who has sent her sheepish husband up twice to complain about noise. I am not noisy, unless you count my CBC radio habit, and I go to bed early. She is four months from producing a creature that will howl endlessly, which is not a wise time to rile your neighbors with empty complaints. Nevertheless, the husband appears with embarrassed requests to maybe reduce the number of, uh, footfalls, because his wife is, you know, pregant and emotional. (I wear socks in the house as it is.) Poor fellow. I listen to Mario’s life upstairs through the thin floorboards, as he walks around, plays his video games, and chats to his girlfriend. Though his bathroom sometimes leaks into mine, I send him interfloor waves of neighborly love. For the mean and crazy pregnant lady below, though, I wish a thirty-six hour labor and a vacationing anesthesiologist. Latin Brooklyn turns my thoughts to revenge.