The Satanic Versus
My first apartment was in Cleveland. An iffy border area besides a nicer inner-ring suburb. At least I could walk to a park and stare out over Lake Erie.
In this building dwelt some strange characters. One rebelled at needing a key to get in. So he ripped the lock off the back door. When the landlord installed a new doorknob...he just ripped it out. Consequently a drunk off the street slept in the hallway many nights.
Some of the paying tenants were friendly. Most were peculiar. One fellow, Dan, somewhat irascible but nice, cooked me a ghoulash dinner and told me of his escape from an infamous San Francisco serial killer. When Dan tried to alert police, one cop was rude to him. So Dan kept the serial killer's identity secret. In retaliation against the city.
I had another neighbor. Satan.
I only saw him a few times. A tired-looking gray-haired executive type on the stairs, briefcase in hand. I don't recall as we ever spoke.
Later I was told he was a Vietnam veteran, with a turbulent, obsessed relationship with a woman on the floor.
When the first Gulf War broke out he lost it.
First he adopted the persona of a redneck stereotype. He would stand outside Dan’s door at night (although Dan denied any part in the relationshp with the woman) and threaten, “AH’M GONNA WHUP YOU CITY BOY! AH’M GONNA WHUP YOU RIGHT GOOD, CITY BOY.”
Then his second personality emerged. Only at night.
I would be up working late on the computer, and I’d hear it, a gutteral voice from the hall:
“I AM SATAN! I WILL KILL YOU ALL!”
He would rant on and on. Commonly down the hall from my end. Outside Dan’s door.
Luckily, I was always up late writing when Satan manifested himself. Being awakened from a deep sleep by something like that would not be good.
Ultimately, I heard that “Satan” was arrested. He walked barefoot into a nearby fast-food restaurant and laid a large butcher knife on the counter. The VFW came and took charge of him.
My first apartment building.
Unlike Dan, I do not have any such information about serial killers to withhold from Cleveland a city that I have come to consider a source of much grief and disppointment to me. But I can say this.
In this town Satan walked. My neighbor.