What's Your Next-Door Neighbor Story?

My Phantom Samaritan

I joined the Navy in 1986, and was sent to a destroyer in Norfolk, Virginia. My ship was in drydock so I had to live off base, and I hastily decided to move downtown, to a mysteriously cheap, furnished one-bedroom in a renovated pre-war building. I seemed to be the only tenant; coming and going from the marble lobby with its polished brass mailboxes, I never saw a soul. Every apartment I checked was unlocked, and at night I’d ride the elevators and wander the halls, like the kid in “The Shining”. Downtown Norfolk, vacant by sunset, was depressing; there was a homeless shelter down the block, ranting winos on the sidewalk. The Navy turned out to be drudgery – prison by the sea. I had no friends, no car.
A few blocks away from my place was one of those ‘olde harbor’ type waterfront developments. It was supposed to be the cornerstone of Norfolk’s downtown renaissance, but during the week it, too, was mostly empty. I started going to a bar there, to drink and hope for girls to appear. One night they had a 2-for-1 shrimp’n’beer special and by closing time I was totally legless, and had eaten probably 8 dozen shrimp. I came to in my apartment sometime later, and even drunk I knew something was drastically wrong: I couldn’t breathe, and my swollen neck felt like a pebbly basketball filled with hot acid. AC/DC was blasting on the stereo. I was on the floor with pants around ankles and dick in hand, having – I’d find out later – an allergic reaction to the obscene amount of shrimp I’d eaten. My windpipe was closing and I was on the verge of blacking out; I was going to die. Then I heard, over the music and my own thin gasps, someone pounding on the door, hard. It was the cops, and a little later EMTs, who gave me a shot of epinephrine and said on their way out: “Good thing you had the music loud, or your neighbor never would’ve called the police.” I left a note with my phone number by the mailboxes, thanking the ghost neighbor. No one ever called, and a week or so later I moved to a sailor slum out in Virginia Beach.


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Have a Next-Door Neighbor Story?

As part of our new webcomic, Next-Door Neighbor, we thought it appropriate to have a little contest. Tell us your best true next-door neighbor story, and the winning tale will be matched with an artist and transformed into a webcomic and included as the final installment of Next-Door Neighbor.

About Next-Door Neighbor

No matter how close or how far, we all live next to someone, and we all have a Next-Door Neighbor story. With that in mind, editor Dean Haspiel asked some of his favorite storytellers and cartoonists to create their favorite NDN stories so we could share them with you.

The Fine Print & Contest Rules

By submitting an entry, you are granting SMITH the right to reprint or republish that entry online or in print, as well as make any necessary edits. See SMITH's terms of service for complete details.

This contest ends September 1, 2008. Prizes are not redeemable for cash and must be accepted as awarded. Winners are decided at the discretion of SMITH judges and all decisions are final. SMITH reserves the right to change the contest rules. Enter as often as you want. SMITH reserves the right to reprint or republish all entries.

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