The first time I saw it, I thought my eyes were deceiving me. I was in the kitchen chopping tomatoes at the counter when something caught my attention. I looked outside my rickety old apartment window and saw my neighbor in the apartment building across from me. Now, that itself wasn’t a new discovery. Mr. Jameson, as I liked to call him because that was his drink of choice, I had noticed, was dancing. Like literally moving and shaking in his kitchen. He was, as they say, dancing like he has never danced before…or dancing like no one is watching. Well, Mr. Jameson, I am watching.
I have obviously seen people dance before so that wasn’t what caught my eye. The thing was, I had never seen Mr. Jameson dance. Nor, did he even seem to be the type of person that would enjoy a twirl around the dance floor. From what I could gather from my previous intel, Mr. Jameson was in his mid-to-late forties, average height, thinning hair, and a husky build. He always left for work before I did and was usually home before me. Mr. Jameson always wore a nice dress shirt, tie, and slacks. I don’t recall ever seeing him in a suit jacket except once or twice. Probably for an important meeting, I supposed. He always had his gray laptop bag around him when he left or returned home. It looked comically small compared to his size. He should have opted for the larger bag. He obviously didn’t hear my comments from the other side of the street, or he would have purchased a bag that matched his previous bag. Why he went with the smaller one I will never know.
Seeing Mr. Jameson dance every night had become my ritual. One evening, I even declined a second drink at happy hour with my friends because I wanted to see Mr. Jameson. I almost told my friends about Mr. Jameson but thought better of it. They would want to come over and watch too and I didn’t want that. It was my quiet time to relax. Besides, I enjoyed trying to figure out what song he was dancing along with. I started turning on my music playlist and matching songs to his moves. One night, he was moving his legs and kicking a lot so I assumed he was listening to Footloose by Kenny Loggins, which matched his choreography perfectly.
I couldn’t help but ponder why Mr. Jameson was suddenly dancing out of the blue. Why on that chilly night in late October he felt the need to dance around his kitchen as he made dinner. I had also been making dinner that night, but I didn’t have the sudden urge to flash dance around my kitchen. Maybe he had a great day at work, possibly a promotion. Or, maybe it was his birthday. That would explain one day, but the dancing continued night after night, so it had to be something else. Then I thought maybe it was a new woman or man in Mr. Jameson’s life, although I hadn’t seen anyone else visit his apartment. My curiosity began keeping me awake at night. I went through hundreds of scenarios as to why Mr. Jameson suddenly started dancing. Everything from his mother’s health is improving to he robbed a bank.
One night in May, I came home from work a little later than normal and noticed the curtains were pulled shut at Mr. Jameson’s apartment. That was strange, I thought to myself. Mr. Jameson never closed the curtains unless he was preparing for his morning shower, and even then, he sometimes forgot to close them. I lay on the couch that night reading my book, but unable to fully concentrate. Every few minutes I would glance over at Mr. Jameson’s window. I hoped I would look over and see him stirring spaghetti sauce and dancing the night away. Unfortunately, nothing changed and I went to bed disappointed and worried. I woke up much earlier than I normally did and went straight to the kitchen to check on Mr. Jameson. The curtains were still drawn.
I went to work and tried to concentrate on something other than Mr. Jameson. Luckily, my boss was on the war path so it kept me pretty busy all day. I arrived home around my usual time and immediately looked across to Mr. Jameson’s building. The curtains were still closed. I made dinner and tried to watch some television. I ended up standing and pacing most of the night. I poured myself a glass of Jameson to calm my nerves. Should I call the police? And say what? I have been spying on my neighbor and he has had his curtains drawn for a long time so please go check on him. I eventually fell asleep on the couch and repeated the same day I did yesterday. The curtains were still drawn when I arrived home from work. I was really starting to worry that something happened to Mr. Jameson. Shouldn’t his boss or his mother be calling to find out where he is? Someone had to miss him, not just me. He was dancing for a reason…for hope, for love, for something. That something needed to come find him.
Around ten at night, I was sitting on my couch in the dark, quiet apartment. All of the sudden my cell phone erupted and scared me out of my deep thought. My friend had called to tell me to meet up with everyone in an hour at our favorite bar. I told her I would but had to make a quick stop before I headed out. We said goodbye and I stood up to change clothes and comb my hair. Thirty minutes later I walked out my apartment door and headed to the elevator. I exited the building and looked both ways before crossing the street. I looked up at Mr. Jameson’s apartment from here, but obviously couldn’t see anything. I had made the decision that I needed to check on Mr. Jameson if his stupid boss or neglectful mother wouldn’t bother. I lurked outside the main door of Mr. Jameson’s building for a few minutes and then somebody exiting let the door go with just enough time for me to grab it before it closed and locked. I knew from looking at this building many times before that Mr. Jameson was on the 12th floor facing my apartment so it shouldn’t be too hard to find him. The building was disturbingly silent for a Friday night. I rode the elevator to the 12th floor. The hallway was empty. No sounds of neighbors yelling at their kids to take the trash out or slamming of doors. I felt uneasy so I quickly made my way down the hall. This building seemed even older than my building across the street. The brown and red color scheme here was off putting and the dim lighting made it feel like you were in a movie theatre. Even the air in the building felt closed off and stale. I found myself wanting to cough, but tried to hold it in, not to disturb anyone or announce my presence.
I found apartment 1211. I did the logistics again in my head and concluded this must be Mr. Jameson’s apartment. The door to the apartment looked to be old pine. Very sturdy. Not like my plywood door at home. The “1211” marking on the door was faded and you could barely make out the last two digits. I suddenly noticed the pulsating of my heart ringing in my ears and feared Mr. Jameson would be able to hear it through the door. I wiped the sweat from my brow and leaned my head gently against the door so I could attempt to hear something. Nothing but dead silence filled my ear. The door felt cold and a shiver ran through my body. I thought about turning back and running, but I was too close now. I needed to know why the curtains have been closed. Mr. Jameson may need me and I would feel awful if I didn’t at least try and help him. I may be his last hope. I took a small step back and softly knocked on the door.