by nikki vixen
In 1983 I was 18 years old living on Avenue B between 11th and 12th Streets in NYC’s East Village. A block of 5 story tenements with lines of junkies waiting to cop in front of my door. My place was on the third floor. Apartments like mine were called railroad flats because they ran from the front of the building to the back. The place was dinjed [sic] out. There was a front bedroom and a rear bedroom, a stove, a sink and refrigerator in the middle. I also had a fireplace which scared the landlord and his wife to no end as we would search for wood to burn that had been illegally dumped in empty lots where buildings once stood – now gone – lost to fire.
To say the building was creepy is an understatement. The halls of the staircase were covered in dark gray paint covering shitty plaster repairs. There was one fluorescent light on each landing. It was the kind place where you thought you might die so hurriedly I would open my apartment door and quickly shut it behind me locking both locks with a clatch clatch sound.
The landlord, a drunk as far as I can remember, and his wife, a school teacher, lived just below my place. The fourth floor was occupied by some European chick whose whole repertoire was European snobbery. I think she was from Sweden. Her apartment was entirely renovated. New everything. Counters, walls, sink, bath, windows – I mean everything was new. I recall it was all painted a beige cream color and although there were drug addicts all over the street below when I was inside her apartment I could have easily imagined on was on the upper east side.
On the 5th floor lived Tony, the coke dealer who spoke little English, and his wife who was a ho’. They had a big Maine coon cat but that’s a story for later.
So the reason the 4th floor was so swanky is that the landlord was partners with some Japanese guy who, like the landlord, was trying to live himself through gentrification in this drugged out cesspool of a neighborhood. So this fellow had money and fixes his place up. He even had a baby-grand in the living room.
Well, the woman who used to live in my place and her boyfriend got into some kind of beef with the Japanese guy and the boyfriend shoots him in the hallway right in front of what is now my front door. The landlord and his wife told me they would hear the piano playing by itself and some other weird shit but I don’t remember what, it was a long time ago.
Now, I’ve always believed in ghosts and the darkness of the entire neighborhood was full of the living dead and recently departed dead and folks who were going to be dead before too long. I’ve always had an affinity for the dead. After all, we’re all going to die.
One night while laying in bed I’m thinking about this Japanese guy and him getting shot where he did and I am overcome with fear and it’s coming from upstairs – his apartment. Next I feel anger. Waves of it enveloped me. Not a soul was stirring above me and suddenly a small piece of misshapen sheetrock – not even 12” X 12” – began to creak and dust fell from the mortar and lathe behind the sheetrock. I got scared. This dude had entered the Hungry Ghost Realm where folks go when they die and they are too obsessed. I am told their bellies are big but they have very small mouths and heads so that no matter how much they try to satiate themselves they are forever hungry and thirsty.