Mar 4, 2009

Who's Crazy Now? A.Combs

Who’s Crazy Now?

By Andrea Combs

Two weeks passed and it happened again. As I look out my apartment window, I see crazy Norman from the building across the street. He has a chair above his head, beating the floorboards clean, but there’s nothing there. This isn’t an unusual sight. Two weeks ago, Norman was attacking the couch with a fire poker. At first I found his behavior strange. Now, I enjoy every mental breakdown. It’s my own form of relaxation.

I first met Norman two years ago when I moved into my building. I went down to the corner of Sanctuary and Vine to buy a cup of coffee. Norman was in line in front of me having an argument with his alter ego. It was quite interesting to watch.

"No Norman, don’t say things like that," he laughed menacingly and paid for his loaf of bread and De-Con, an unusual combination for a normal person. I questioned the clerk about his sanity. The clerk was all too quick to give the juicy information.

Norman was the town whacko. He had imaginary illnesses, invisible friends, and everyone was out to get him. He lived alone now, due to his roommate’s mysterious disappearance. The clerk reassured me that Norman was insane, but harmless. So, I of course, became intrigued with my new neighbor and picked up a pair of cheap binoculars at the local hunting store to keep an extra eye on him. My evenings of reading mysteries were over. Norman was a mystery all on his own.

This night was an exception. He had set two places for dinner and ate alone. Poured two glasses of wine and toasted the air. He turned the radio on and glided across the floor as if he were entertaining. As he settled in to watch television, something must have startled him. He jumped up, both feet on the couch and began searching the room for the culprit. He ran over to the end table and switched on the lamp. Next, he grabbed a wooden chair tightly and held it high above his head as he tiptoed around the living room. Pacing to one end and then the other, finally coming to a halt exactly where he’d started. Down came the chair, over and over again, first to the right and then to the left. I chuckled to myself as I intruded on this man’s most private thoughts. What was he chasing? I continued watching this scene repeat itself for about an hour. Then, he got a dustpan and broom, and swept his imaginary kill into it, before dumping it into the trash. I called it a night and went to bed, and hoped now Norman could do the same.

The next morning I journeyed to my favorite coffee spot. As I made it to the end of the block I saw Norman about to empty his trash into the dumpster on the side of the building. I walked over and wished him a good morning.

He replied, "Does your building have rats?"

I told him I had never seen any. Then, he asked if there were any vacant apartments on my floor. I gave him the name of my landlord and asked him why he wanted to move. He opened his trash bag to reveal his catch, and said, "These damn rats are keeping me up at night."