Sweet Dreams by Anne Altman
I moved to NYC in the early 90's and shared a two-bedroom apartment with a whiny roommate who ate only Hamburger Helper. Because she was so annoying, my boyfriend and I usually stayed at his luxury co-op on the Upper West Side. When my lease was up, I ditched the roomie for my very own place in Gramercy Park.
The upside was that I'd be living alone, and the rent was reasonable. The downside was that it was a railroad style on the first floor with scant natural light and a shower in the kitchen. But it was cozy, and I was proud.
The bedroom was so narrow it required a trundle-style twin bed that flipped out into a double to accommodate guests. One hot summer night, I invited my boyfriend to spend the night for the first time.
"But you don't have A/C," he said.
"I know, but I have a fan. And a window to put it in! Please? Come on! It'll be fun!"
He relented. When it was time to turn in, I switched on the small box fan in the alley-facing window at the foot of the bed to alleviate the heat.
As we drifted off, sweating atop the covers, a couple in another apartment--possibly in the building next door--started fighting. They obviously relied on their open window to cool off, because they were so loud they may as well have been in the trundle bed with us.
"Nice," my boyfriend said to me in the pitch dark.
"It's fine. It'll die down. It's okay," I replied, trying to convince him—and myself—
that slumming it for a night at my place wasn't a terrible idea.
"Fuck YOU!" screamed the woman.
"No, fuck YOU!" screamed the man.
"FUCK YOU!" they screamed in unison.
And so it went, for what seemed like hours, as we lay there listening and wondering whether or not to call 911.
"YOU JUST HAVE TO ANSWER ME ONE MORE QUESTION!" the woman shrieked.
"WHAT!?!?!" shouted the man.
"WHERE… DID YOU PUT… MY FATHER!?!?!?"
Braced for his reply, we didn't hear an answer, just an eerie and deafening silence.
My boyfriend never stayed at my apartment again.