"Is it possible a lunatic is someone with too firm a hold on his own mind?"
~ Abram Tertz
If I had to assign blame for my commitment to anything, I'd have to give it to the apartment.
A good friend of mine (I'll call him The Landlord, as he has little importance beyond this) owned this nice apartment complex, and offered me the penthouse on the top floor, along with full run of the basement, knowing how I liked to tinker a ways from my living space. I lit up and took the offer immediately.
Upon moving in I went and greeted all my new neighbors, floor by floor, until I reached the penthouse on the 12th floor. Although, I thought it should've been the thirteenth floor, seeing as the lobby should count as a floor. Anyhow, I slowly spiraled up the narrow stairs, one door at a time. I discovered that the building wasn't fully occupied, but I didn't mind. I enjoy the sound of knocking on wood, and each door sounded different; I was tempted to assign a note to each, but I figured I'd get around to that eventually. My near-perfect pitch wasn't going anywhere fast, I thought.
Most of the neighbors I did encounter were cordial enough; some were outgoingly sweet, like Ms. Whiznee with the Naw-lens accent on the seventh floor. She invited me right in, offered me some sweet tea, and after we chatted a while she welcomed me to the "neighborhood." More often than not, however, the folks were taken aback by me. They all had very ordinary names, like Smith, Jones, Johnson, and what-not, so I just assigned them new names. Like Mrs. Jones, directly below my apartment. Glancing over her bony shoulder I caught sight of more cat mementos than are safe, so she became Ms. Gato. That really stiff-necked gentleman on the first floor, Mr. Wilson? I dubbed him Sir Plywood. There were a handful of others, like Ms. Pinch (her voice was ever-so-strained in welcoming me), Monsieur Sans Escale d'Affaires (the workaholic), and The Lady of the Banisters (I swear, the stair railing was about seven sizes larger than this poor woman), just to name a few. They seemed, to me, to be unified in three ideas: they were uptight, they were boring, and they all thought I was out of my mind.
"They must've wanted to commit me on the spot," I chuckled to myself as I unlocked my penthouse.
Oh, I had no idea how right I was.
A few months later came the day I like to call "My Last Day in Sanity." Arms laden with the week's groceries I began my thirteen-floor ascent to the penthouse. I said hello to Joey the doorman like I always did. "Evenin' Mr. Steely," he'd replied back with his usual nod. He always used to say "evenin'," regardless whether it was two in the afternoon or two in the morning. I thundered up the stairs, and as I did I noticed something: all of my uptight, re-named neighbors were on their way upstairs.
"Now that's odd," I muttered to myself when I reached the seventh and noticed Sir Plywood going up. He turned to shoot an icy glance at me, then quickened his pace. Ms. Whiznee happened to be coming out of her apartment at the same time.
"What's odd, Mistah Conn'u?" she asked in that voluminous voice of hers.
I shrugged. "Well, i'seems like all The Rename-ees are headed upstairs. And if they see me they hurry towards the stairs even faster."
She crossed her arms and leaned against the doorjamb. "Now that is strange. An' what's mo', I spotted a white truck ou'side earlier this afte'noon an' two big burly guys git'n out an' headed t'th'lobby. No idea what they're doin' here."
It would've been my turn to cross my arms, had I not been laden with produce. "That's a bit peculiar. I'd stay and ponder a bit more, but jicama and lablab don't marinate themselves."
She laughed. "That they don', Conn'u, that they don'." She raised her hand in farewell as I mounted the stairs. But as I hit the ninth floor she leaned over the banister and called up the stairs: "Conn'u! I put that mix y'wan'ned me t'put in the big beaker this mo'nin'!"
I bit my lip. "How long ago was that?" I called back.
"'Bout five hours ago!"
"Aw, cripes!" I cried, promptly dropping the grocery bag over the edge and thundering back down the stairs. I heard Ms. Pinch shriek as was attacked by the falling jicama. I hurriedly apologized as I passed her on the fifth floor. I don't think she was pleased.
I'd apologize properly later, but for the moment I had to get down to the basement before something awful happened.