The tighty whiteys weren’t white, but a deep forest green that highlighted his tan. A tan that stretched over the beach ball protrusion of his belly and faded at the edges of his underwear, suggesting a bathing suit with a similar cut. He stood centered on stocky legs, leering at me with his right arm extended to hold the door.
“You interrupted my practice,” he said.
“Yoga?” I asked, my voice unnaturally high. I was standing barefoot on the dirty maroon carpet of our apartment building trying to cross my arms over breasts that peeked through a thin t-shirt.
I knew I should have put on bra.
It was midday on Friday, my day off, and I’d left the apartment to collect my laundry in the cell-like room on the second floor. I figured no one would see me.
Because the normal people are at work.
But when I got to the locked laundry room door I realized I’d grabbed the wrong set of keys. I’d hurried back to the apartment, hoping to find it unlocked but the door resisted my pushes and didn’t respond to my pounds.
This can’t be happening.
I had no cell phone to call the landlord, no money for a taxi to my boyfriend’s work; I didn’t even have shoes to take a walk. All I had was the dimly lit hallway in our six-story building.
Maybe I can swing from the roof onto our balcony, I thought, turning to the stairwell.
The floors of our building are tiered and although we’re on the third floor, we are also at the top of our section. And as I mentioned, we have a covered balcony.
If I can rock climb I can do this.
Now, you’re probably thinking, Jesus, you’re a moron—you could fall three stories! Well, let me tell you something: our property was built on a hill so while we are technically on the third floor of the building, there are two levels of parking below the first floor so really, I could have fallen five. Onto concrete.
But still, I would not be deterred. Because if I didn’t get into our apartment, not only would I have to sit in the hallway all freakin day, I would also have to rewash the sheets that were sitting in the washer.
Why? You ask. Because anytime a load sits in the washer longer than 30 seconds past its cycle, someone comes along and dumps it on the dirty counter top. And I’m not sleeping on anything that has even grazed that plague infested surface.
So I took the stairs to the roof, lay on my stomach at the edge and stared onto our balcony.
It can’t be that hard. Harrison Ford was an old man when he filmed “The Last Crusade”.
I took a deep breath and tried to picture myself as Indiana Jones.
Roof to balcony in one graceful movement- I can totally do this.
I got to my hands and knees and turned backwards, scooting to the edge of the roof. I dangled my toes into oblivion.
Then my palms started to sweat.
I looked over shoulder as if that would help but all I could see was concrete.
My foot’s going to slip, my hands will fail and my body will splatter. This is a bad idea.
So that’s how I ended up here, staring at my neighbor’s mostly naked body. His living room and balcony share a wall with ours and the balcony railings are waist high and made of four evenly spaced wood planks —perfect for shimmying along.
“You guys were kind of loud the other night. Not that I minded,” he smirked.
Oh, awesome. Guess we’re never having sex in the apartment again.
I tried to think of a retort but the only words that came to mind were: This is a bad idea.
“What can I do for you? I know you didn’t come here to borrow a cup of sugar,” he said, staring at my crossed arms.
“I-uh- I locked myself out so I was wondering if I could climb over your balcony to get to mine.”
“Be my guest,” he said, standing aside. But as he motioned for me to enter, all I could do was stare at the minute space between his naked belly and the opposite wall of the entranceway.
Can I even fit that without touching him? Hm, the hallway floor isn’t that dirty… maybe Ryan will get home early from work.
“Did you want to come back another time?” Never. I want to come back never.
“No, no, I-uh-I, I need to do it right now,” I said, forcing my feet forward. I dropped my arms and hugged the opposite wall as if skirting a deep ravine. My cheeks passed mere centimeters from curious scuff marks and grime and the musty smell of sweat was nauseating, but I kept my focus.
Please don’t rape me please don’t rape me please don’t rape me.
Once I’d shuffled a safe distance from his belly (and the underwear beneath it) I hurried into the living room and paused just long enough to admire the pubescent décor.
No wonder you’re 50 and single.
There were AAA maps tacked to the wall, a rattan chair with a blown out seat and a chaise lounge in olive green velvet that looked like a throwaway from the set of Downton Abbey. Dog toys were strewn everywhere and his little dust mop yipped in high-pitched rapid succession.
“The guy that used to live next door would do this all the time,” he said just over my shoulder.
Oh my gawd you’re creepy!
I lurched out of the open sliding glass door where I was met with an unwelcome surprise: a dying tropical forest that obscured the balcony railing.
Fuck. How do I get over?
“Would you like some help?” he said, again sneaking up behind me.
Ah! Fuck. Seriously dude?
“Nope!” I yelled, scooting away from him.
My heart felt like it was on a treadmill as I looked for an opening. There has to be a way over. There has to be a way—there has to be—aha! I spotted a free section to my right behind a row of decrepit pottery and lunged for it, knocking over a dry tree stump.
“Whoa! Careful crazy girl. Here, let me help you,” he said, placing his hands on my waist.
“No!” I yelled, too startled to react calmly. His hands immediately retreated and his demeanor changed.
“Oh come on, I don’t want you to fall on me.” His voice was solicitous with a tinge of disappointment.
“Nope, I’m good,” I said swinging my right leg so wide he had to jump back. Once on the other side fence I shuffled along the planks until I made it to our balcony. I swung my right leg over, then the left, yelling a quick, “Thanks!” before climbing through an open window.
“Anytime!” I heard him call. “I’m available any time!”