For the last eighteen months, we have lived in the same two-bedroom apartment. We moved here when my wife and I found out we were having a baby, and that one-bedroom death trap we were in was not going to cut it.
The apartment building is in a decent area with several young families in the neighborhood, and all the amenities within a short drive when needed. What sold us on this place, however, was the view; it is simply spectacular. From our balcony, you can see south over the downtown core and across the horizon where we stare at the lake as the water shimmers in the sunlight as far as you can see East and West.
The only downside to living here is our next-door neighbor in apartment 618, Samuel Gorch, or as I like to call him, Samuel Grouch. Sam Gorch is constantly playing music loudly at all hours of the night and day and has no respect for anyone around him. He also had the nerve to call the superintendent one day to complain that our baby was keeping him awake.
It has been one incident after another with the old “Grouch,” and Sarah and I had debated whether we should move or not, but neither of us wants to. If the superintendent wasn’t going to do something soon though, I would have to file a complaint with the police department. Sam’s music had been the result of many sleepless nights for my family and me. This all needs to come to a stop one way or another, and soon.
Some consider to me to be a patient man, but my patience has been put to the test since we moved here. It all started the day we moved in. We were in the process of moving the furniture up with the elevator to our apartment when we bumped into Samuel for the first time…literally. As I was backing up off the elevator carrying one end of the couch, I backed right into Sam. I saw a shiny object fall from his hands and roll past my foot where it fell through the crack between the elevator and the wall.
From that moment on, he barely looked me in the eye if I spotted him in the hallway, and if he did look my way, it would be with an evil stare. I wasn’t sure at that point what he lost that day, but it was important enough to cause him to hold a grudge.
I started to feel like I was being watched every time I walked past his apartment. I was sure that he was staring out the peephole at me. The neighborhood we came from was in a rougher part of town, but we never had a neighbor like him. Even the drug dealer that lived a few doors down used to wave or nod when he walked by.
I tried to find out some information about Samuel from some of the other tenants, but nobody knew much more than I did. All I could find out, was that he worked as a construction worker building homes.
My job keeps me out of the apartment from 7:30 in the morning until 5:00 in the evening, from Monday to Friday, so Sarah must deal with the noise emanating from apartment 618 all day. Our baby, Julie, as sound a sleeper as she is, wakes up during most of her naps, if she sleeps at all.
I called the superintendent to come up and check a plumbing problem we had in the bathroom one day, and while he was here, Mr. Gorch started playing his music loudly once again. After I told him that this was the kind of noise we had to deal with every day, all he could say was that there was nothing he could do about it, and Sam had the right to play his music during the day if he wants. When I said it happens all night too, he just shrugged his shoulders and left the apartment.
My wife got so upset one day last week that she threw a book she was reading at the wall of Sam’s apartment, but as the book fell to the ground, it hit the baby monitor, knocking it to the hardwood floor. The plastic monitor broke into pieces on impact and scattered across the floor. She scrambled to put the pieces back together, but it was beyond repair, so on my way home, I stopped past the store to pick up a new one. The salesman claimed it was the best on the market.
When I got home, Sarah was in the baby’s room rocking back-and-forth in the rocking chair with baby Julie in her arms. With the monitor broken, she wanted to make sure Julie was okay. I told her that she was being over-protective, but I understood that she felt guilty about the monitor and did not want to take any chances.
I threw out the old monitor and plugged in the new one. It was completely wireless, so we could take it anywhere. When we turned it on for the first time, I could clearly hear every noise Julie made. We heard each breath as if she were laying beside us. I could even hear the rustling of her blanket as she tossed and turned.
Sarah and I were getting ready to call it a night and get ready for bed, when we heard a disturbing noise coming over the monitor. It sounded like someone was in the room with Julie, so I ran back to the bedroom, frightened of what I was about to find, but as I turned the corner, there was nobody in the room but Julie, and she was still sleeping soundly.
I walked back out of the room and saw Sarah standing in the hallway anxious to find out what was happening. We had to assume that something in the room was making an unusual noise that made us believe that it was a person.
After getting ready for bed, I set the monitor on the bedside table as we got changed. Once again, a strange noise came from the monitor. I went across the hall into Julie’s room, and nothing was out of place, so I went back to my room where Sarah stood near the monitor. Her face was white, and she was pointing toward the monitor. She identified the voice as Samuel Gorch. It turned out that our new baby monitor was picking up the signal from something in apartment 618 as well.
Sam was in his apartment mumbling to himself. We couldn’t make it out at first, but then I was able to understand two words, “neighbor” and “ring.” I assumed that by neighbor, he was referring to us, but what did he mean by ring? Maybe he was hoping to get me into a boxing ring so he could pound the crap out of me. I wasn’t sure. As we continued to listen, we realized that Sam must have been sleeping, but he was talking in his sleep, that was why his sentences were so broken.
The next thing we heard sounded like, “Becca,” but who was Becca? Eventually, Sam stopped talking in his sleep and the monitor went silent other than Julie’s breathing. The next few days were interesting, as we started listening in to more conversations while Samuel was awake. Most were phone conversations between him and someone unknown.
Samuel again mentioned, “Becca” to whoever was on the phone. He was asking about how he could have something retrieved from under the elevator. I didn’t put two-and-two together at that point, but then I remember our moving day when something fell down the elevator shaft. He must have been talking to the superintendent.
As Julie was laying down for her afternoon nap, I could hear a knock on Sam’s door. It was a voice I didn’t recognize that came over the monitor next. The way he spoke to Samuel was very professional and Sarah assumed that he was a lawyer, and he turned out to be just that.
They spoke of a ring that was lost and that Sam was desperate to recover. Then something that Sam said made all the pieces fall into place. He mentioned that Becca was dead. I thought at first that Becca was a relative that passed away, but then when he said that he had been trying to get the superintendent to allow him to search the pit below the elevator, but he was forbidden from doing so, I realized then that when I bumped into him that first day, that it was a wedding ring that fell down the elevator shaft.
That explained why Sam had been so upset with us. He blamed me for losing the one thing that he had left to hold onto that reminded him of his deceased wife. I felt terrible, as did Sarah. I picked up the phone and called a friend I knew that was a building inspector. He called the superintendent and arranged to have an inspection done of the elevator.
When he finished with the elevator repairman, my friend came up to the apartment. He said it took some time to locate, but he spotted it in a puddle of oil, barely visible. I thanked him then cleaned the ring up until it shined like new.
Sarah stayed at our place while I walked to apartment 618 and knocked on the door. I could see Sam peek through the peephole before opening the door. He swung it open violently and said abruptly, “What do you want?”
I held open my hand and showed him the ring. His face instantly turned from a look of hatred to a look of relief. He stared at the ring for a moment then looked back at me.
“How did you…?” he began to say.
I simply told him that I overheard him talking about trying to retrieve a ring from the elevator shaft, so I called in a favor. I neglected to mention that Sarah and I had been listening in on his conversations over the monitor.
Samuel thanked me profusely, and offered to have me in for a drink, but I told him that I had to get back to my family. He also apologized for the loud music and ensured to me that it would not happen again.
As time passed, we got to know more of Sam, and he and I became good friends. Eventually, I did tell him about the baby monitor, but I also traded that model in for a monitor that was more basic so we would only hear our baby.
You can never tell what is behind the emotions of a person until you really get to know them. I assumed at first that he was an arrogant jerk to everyone, but it was a single circumstance that made him act that way. I will know better in the future before jumping to any more conclusions.