I wasn’t the only one who was getting annoyed with Lady. We had a heat wave for a few weeks that made the air feel like an oppressive stone weighing down on you constantly. My apartment had windows overlooking the back garden which quickly shriveled into nothing under the sheer heat, but worse was the fact that all of the dog pee – from dogs in the apartment that pissed there multiple times a day – started to reek. The heat was cooking it and anytime we opened the windows it entered the apartment and caused tears to come to our eyes. La Actress and I quickly invested in a portable air conditioner because the smell was revolting. Lady had windows facing the same area right above us but she was too good for that.

Instead, she had the building manager leave a letter for every tenant – stating that it was now against the rules for any animal to deficate or urinate (her words) in the back garden area or anywhere on the property. Animals must be walked outside of the apartment gates. Inconvenient for those owners who were used to walking around the building to the garden and they all knew she was the one who instituted this rule. Her popularity, already down to virtually 0, dropped lower still.

Then, during the height of the heat wave, she brought landscapers in to rip out the folliage, plant new bushes and flowers, and replace the dead grass. To make sure the point was driven home, she added a cute little sign that she bought herself, hammered into the ground that said “No dogs allowed”. Within three weeks all of those plants were withered to a yellow tangle of death.

Other people in nearby apartments started to complain about her music habits – namely that she would blast music so loudly our walls shook at all hours of the day and night. Attempts to talk to her about it usually ended with her pointing out that she owned the building; I seemed to be one of only a handful of people who cited our rental agreements, most people backed off when she said that. Calls to NBM never changed anything – he would usually claim that he would talk to her but her music continued to cause small pictures to fall off of the wall. I was actually glad that La Actress hadn’t decorated, because I suspected that anything hung on a wall wouldn’t last there very long. I was getting used to the noise – not that it didn’t bother me, it just didn’t surprise me. Then an event occured that had me cocking my head in surprise at the irony of it all.

Every few months our maintenance guy would test the fire alarm system. He never gave any warning (written or otherwise) and could never remember how to turn the alarm system off. So you could be soaking in the tub and the alarm would randomly go off just as a test. You run out of your apartment and then it would shrilly go off for another twenty minutes until the fire department showed up and showed maintenance guy how to shut it off. Happened every few months. The first time it happened after Lady moved in, she freaked out and lost her shit.

“Turn it off, turn it off! I don’t want to hear this, I’m trying to sleep! Are you incompetent? Did you do this on purpose?” Lady screeched over the sirens. Seriously? This is the woman who forced us all to listen to the same Carrie Underwood song (Jesus Take the Wheel) twelve times in a row? She’s complaining because we have an alarm going off for five minutes? She spent the whole time until fire department showed up screaming at the maintenance guy and clomping up and down the stairs in her clicky heels.

Then a few months later, it happened again. She screeched at maintenance guy again. I sighed and started walking to campus. Fuck this shit, I thought to myself, I’ll just go study in the library. At least there it’s against the rules to make noise. Could she be any more annoying? I asked myself. Unfortunately, the answer was ‘yes’…

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