Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Love thy Crazy Neighbour

I've had a bit of a blog block in the last week or so, but it turns out that sometimes you don't need to look much further than your front door for inspiration...

When I open mine, I see an exact mirror image across the hallway, except that the door has ten key holes.  Ten?  Even with all the security issues in Rio, ten locks is really playing it safe.  I can hear my neighbour each time she leaves her apartment, her key chain clanking and jingling as she methodically locks each one with a separate key.

Because she is perpetually either locking or unlocking her door, I almost only ever see her from the back.  A thick-set, fifty-something body; doughy white flesh spilling out of too-flirty florals;  jet hair pulled to the nape of her neck.  I've see her face sometimes, but because she almost always wears opaque black shades, she never makes eye contact, let alone polite conversation.

She's generally referred to as the madwoman on the second floor, or The Countess. The 'sane' inhabitants trade information about her in the lift, after discussing the Feng Shui energy channel that flows through the master bathrooms of the building.  (Seriously, apparently it does.)

Anyway, there are lots of rumours about The Countess.  Apparently as wealthy as she is crazy, she owned and recently sold a whole block of real estate in Copacabana, in which the notoriously seedy 'Help' nightclub used to operate.  Despite the alleged riches, she has no electricity in her noble appartment, and so watches television from the threadbare couch in the lobby with the doorman, which he tolerates because of her inflated tipping habits.  As if having no lights wasn't bad enough, she has lined all the windows of her property with bin liners so that even during the day she is in total pitch black.

Apparently the flat lay abandoned for some time while she was institutionalised in another city. Nurses, unaware of her identity, thought she was delusional when she kept telling them she lived in a flat on the beach in Rio de Janeiro.  Finally, she was found by a son who confirmed that the delusion was true, and she was brought back home.

I'm completely fascinated by this woman.  I lie awake at night refining the details on my imaginary baratacam (cockroach camera), that would slip under the door and crawl around the rooms to reveal what goes on in there.  What is she hoarding that is so precious it demands such peculiar security and environmental precautions?  Is she some sort of a Vampire?  Has she killed a man?

Despite her best efforts to slip out of a barely opened front door, I have managed to catch a few glimpses inside her apartment.   The first time, I discerned that the whole place was packed solid with shadowy shapes, which I took for rubbish.  Another time I saw the door ajar and someone with a flashlight looking around at this 'rubbish'.  It turned out to be antique furniture and decorative objects, stacked up like in a warehouse.  But I'm sure there's more to it than that.

It's Halloween this weekend: Maybe I'll send the kids across the landing to trick or treat.  Then again, maybe not.  I'm too scared to knock.


  1. Maybe she actually doesn't live in the apartment. She uses it for antique furniture storage, and spend some hours of the day with her son. Nothing is what it seems to be.

  2. @Anita
    Anita, you could be right....but you could be really wrong!! Suspiciously there has been no sighting of the 'son' for a very long time....could he be a prisoner in there??

  3. ha! Strange and entertaining and sad, all at the same time.

  4. Her mad son who lives in there chained to a wall?? Sorry, had to!
    Or maybe she's a 'hoarder'. My mom once offered a distant friend to help her mother when she passed (friend had cancer), and when we went to help clear up her flat so she could sell it, it was insane. Literally the bed was so packed with random stuff that a space barely big enough for a small person in fetal position had been cleared out. I had never thought about this before, but clearly changing the sheets was an impossibility!

  5. I can't forget the idea of a "baratacam".
    I need one.
    I really do.

  6. this is hilarious and sad at the same time
    i dont know if i am supposed to laugh or cry