Chapter 2, page 2

I leaned against the door jamb coffee cup in hand as I watched the new maintenance woman poke around my shower.

"I'm not seeing anywhere that it could be leaking from ma'am. There's no water around the toilet either. The whole thing is just strange." She straightened up and placed her hands on her hips.

The whole mess had begun the evening before. I had been soaking in the tub after a long day when there was a knock on the door. After quickly dressing I went to the door.

"Who is it?" With my Christmas wreath partially blocking the peep hole, I wasn't about to throw the door open without knowing who stood on the other side.

"It's Garrett," the person outside the door replied. It sounded just like Garrett so I opened the door. Sure enough, it was my neighbor.

"Hey so is anything leaking in here? I think Sarah lives below you and apparently her ceiling's leaking?"

"I was taking a bath but it didn't overflow or anything. Hold on, let me go check and see if it like leaked out of the bottom of the tub or something." I dashed back to the bathroom to check the floor. Dry as a bone. Except for the few spots from where I'd climbed out of the tub in a hurry. Nothing indicated a leak though and that was my main concern. I reported back to Garrett and we chatted for a few more minutes about finals and the upcoming Christmas break. That was the wonderful thing about this building: it was mostly law students and I'd had class with many of them over the course of the last several years. We'd all established friendly relationships with each other. The week before I had been very sick and spent 18-20 hours of a single day sleeping. I had largely ignored my phone during that time. A friend had been worried about me and had sent a neighbor to check in. I had been touched that Kristen had been worried enough about me to reach out to someone else and that Sam had actually stopped by. I had never given much thought to my relationship with my neighbors until I moved in to this building. Over the past two and a half years I had discovered how valuable a good relationship with your neighbors can be.

I had been eating breakfast when the maintenance woman showed up this morning. I had been expecting a visit from maintenance after my conversation with Garrett the night before. The maintenance woman left and returned to caulk the bathtub one more time, just to make sure. I couldn't help but compare her to our old maintenance man. She was nice and quite thorough. From what I could tell she was also prompt. I couldn't really complain about her. But still. She was sane and therefore radically different from our old maintenance man. I had always been able to rely on him for entertainment. One of my favorite encounters had been the time he told me his theory on mental illness and about the ex-wife he still lived with. There was also the time he lectured me on the safety of sticking your hand in a  garbage disposal and how his tools and equipment had been stolen multiple times.

All future maintenance personnel would be held to a high standard. It was a slightly unbalanced standard, but a high one nonetheless.

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