On Sunday, in an attempt to relax her nerves, she made up a giant bowl of popcorn and tried to watch the Mets get abused by Washington. But with the score at 6 to 0 by the fifth inning, she concluded there was little reason to keep watching, and flipped the tube off, winging her Mets hat back into the closet for another week. They really hadnt been any good since they fired Elonzio. It really wasnt his fault that hed changed for the first time in the middle of a season. He hadnt even changed that much: Horns and talons barely even counted. It wasnt like he could run any faster or hit any harder. The league rules were so discriminatory, which made sense to keep the game fair, she supposed, but it still didnt seem right to ruin Elonzios career or an entire Mets season over it.
So to her dismay, the remainder of the day involved doing laundry, since she couldnt think of anything better to do, and she ended up cleaning all her dirty clothes, her bedsheets, blankets, curtains, and even the placemats and tablecloths that she never used for her dinner table. It was work that was overdue, and to keep herself busy while she was waiting for the washers and dryers, she pondered over an ancient Rubiks cube that an old boyfriend had given her some years before. It wasnt anywhere near solved, and never had been anywhere near solved, but she liked to think that if she spun it randomly enough times, it might get closer.
By Monday morning, her apartment was surprisingly neat and tidy, if one ignored the dangling drywall and giant hole in the living room wall, and she felt relieved to go to work, as work gave her something at least semi-productive to do with her time.
The other secretaries were less than impressed with her story from Friday, and Elaine rather pointedly told her that she should have called Wils phone number early Saturday morning. Despite weighing more than several of the rest of them put together, Caitlyn ended up feeling very small and incompetent, and she spent the rest of the day huddling in her cubicle and trying to avoid eye contact. Thankfully, her boss was on a business trip this week.
And so as she rode the subway home on Monday night, she was in a relatively sedate mood, feeling a little sorry for herself, thinking that the day had been a miserable waste, and hoping that tomorrow was going to be different. Which, in a way, it definitely was.
* * *
She entered the apartment building as usual, and the concierge greeted her as usual. She squeezed herself into the elevator along with two other people, pressed the button for the seventh floor, and got out when the elevator stopped.
She could see her apartment door at the end of the hallway, and for some reason, it looked like it was ajar. She walked closer. There was no doubt that it was ajar. A book, lying on its side, was stuck in it, haphazardly, and with one of the pages torn.
The book was hers. A cookbook, not terribly important by itself, but it was hers. She pushed the door open.
The sight that greeted her was nothing like she expected. Papers were strewn everywhere, the couch cushions had been thrown about, and the couch itself had been tipped over. Drawers were on the floor. The closets were open, and their contents on the floor. Every cupboard was open, and dishes were smashed. It looked as if no stone had been left unturned
Oh, shit. Ive been robbed, said Caitlyn, and darted down the hallway to her bedroom.
The bedroom was in just as bad a shape as the rest of the apartment, but to her surprise, nothing was missing. It was all on the floor, but it was all still there. The diamond bracelet her grandmother had given her. The earrings she never wore. The three hundred dollars cash shed kept hidden on the top shelf inside the fake book, which was sitting on the floor beside the bed frame in a messy pile.
She righted the bed, placing the mattress back on the box springs, and sat down on it. I dont get it. Who robs an apartment and leaves everything behind?
She went back out to the other rooms and surveyed the place. Everything seemed oddly intact. All her belongings were around somewhere, and nothing seemed to be missing. It was as if the Dirty Fairy had just broken in, waved her wand, and left. Caitlyn hadnt lost a penny, save for some smashed dishes.
She righted the couch and sat down on it. She didnt especially feel like cleaning up anyone elses mess, so she turned on the TV and flipped through the channels. Something caught her eye.
It wasnt on the screen. On the back of the apartment door, there was a little yellow note posted with some cheap beige masking tape.
She stood back up, ran to the door, and snatched the note.
The handwriting was soft and pretty, in blue pen, with little flourishes on some of the cursive letters. Caity Im sorry. I made a mistake and I got you involved. You need to leave. Its not safe here. They think you well, Ill find you and tell you later. Im sorry again. K.
Caitlyn looked up from the note. Aw, dammit, Kat... Geez... What have you gotten yourself involved in this time? Crap on a cracker, you stupid little black... Man, I wonder if they were hunting for drugs or something? I knew that guy looked fishy.
She sighed. Monday never had been her best day of the week.
* * *
It perhaps came as little surprise that the police didnt entirely believe her. Really, I swear, the wall was already like that. I was angry, and tore that apart, and then when I came home from work, the rest of the place was a shambles.
The apartment was clean when you left, maam?
I spent all Sunday cleaning it.
But the wall was torn off?
Yeah, clean except for that.
The policeman eyed her warily.
Look, I found this note on the door. Its from my neighbor, Kat.
The policemans partner took the note and read it.
What exactly is the procedure in all this? she asked.
Well, if nothing was stolen, and nothing was really damaged, we can really only write this up as vandalism, said the second policeman.
But two of my dishes were smashed and they broke in
Are you certain the door was fully closed and locked, maam?
Maybe maybe it hadnt fully closed. She hadnt left in a rush this morning, but she hadnt really checked the door, either. She had nothing to say.
Well write this up as vandalism, but I dont think theres enough damaged here to make a claim on any insurance you might have, said the second policeman. Sorry.
Have there been any other incidents like this around here? she asked. I mean... its weird, isnt it?
Look, if you get some kid whacked out on blue dogs or M-sicles, theres no telling what can happen. We had this one call a couple months ago where the entire apartment had literally been turned upside-down when some kids broke in looking for easy money. The furniture had been melted into the ceiling. You should consider yourself lucky. They were probably so messed up that they didnt even know what money looked like by the time they got to it.
Caitlyn sighed. I guess youre right. I dont suppose youd be willing to help clean up?
Sorry, maam, were on duty, said the second policeman politely while the first was scribbling madly in a notebook. If we didnt have to be back in twenty minutes, Id probably be happy to. He smiled, waggling an eyebrow.
The first policeman looked up. Dammit, Jerry, would you quit hitting on every female-shaped thing you see? Shes not even close to your species, for Chrissake.
He turned around. Maam, Im sorry about the mess, but theres nothing we can do unless they strike again and we can catch them in the act. Thats all we can do. Good day, maam.
But what about the threat? The note
They make door locks for a reason, maam, said the first policeman dully. If someone actually comes after you, you know how to use 911. But until then, this looks to me like nothing more than a couple of kids thinking they were robbing you for drug money. So Im sorry we cant do more, its a travesty of justice Im sure, end of the world and a letter to the editor and whining to your congressman and all that, and now if you dont mind, we have places we have to be, and they aint here.
The two left, and Jerry tipped his hat toward her as he turned the corner.
Caitlyn slammed the door behind them. And good riddance! she shouted at the closed door. She sighed again. Damn cops, she muttered. There wasnt a police officer or taxicab in the entire city that would treat her like a human being, even though they all claimed to the newspapers they would. She shuddered, wondering what kind of man Jerry was. Hed looked a little creepy for her tastes, and she wondered what he was hiding in that moustache.
She bent down and started cleaning up the scattered rubble and then paused, spying the cookbook that had been stuck in the door. She picked it up, stared at it, rubbed the dust off on the side of her pelt, and set it on a shelf near the door, smiling. Perfect, she said. Perfect, that is, for beaning that little black furball Kat over the head the next time she saw her.