Most days of the week after classes we would always hang out at Laura's place. She lived in an apartment building on the north end of town. The place was haggard. Right across the street from a prison. Pretty much as downtown as you could get. If I had to decide on what to consider the slums of that city, that was it, dead centre. It's not like any of us had nice places or any money considering we were students, but we managed to entertain ourselves with the little we had. As you walked into the lobby there were often homeless people trying to keep warm, begging for cigarettes, or at worst trying to follow us into the building.
This one guy was laying down across the front entrance wearing what looked like his entire wardrobe. He had a big beard and a stench of body door surrounded him. My nose stung as I walked past him but I tried to ignore it so I wouldn't cause any issues. I pressed the buzzer.
"Hey," crackled Laura's voice through the intercom.
The clank of the door unlocking caused the man to get up. "Hey my friend lives here and I can't remember his apartment number. I know where his room is though," he tried to explain.
My heart raced. He looked like a junky and I'm sure that there were dealers for every drug within that complex. Gangs and guns and thugs, people pushing heroin, the most extreme. Maybe not, but it wouldn't have surprised me. So I told him, "I don't think it's a good idea." I should have just quickly walked in and pretended not to hear him. But I didn't.
"What do you mean, not a good idea? I have just as much right as you to come and visit my friends."
His argument was poor so I decided to indiscreetly call him out before sliding through the door and locking him out behind me. "At least I remember my friends apartment number. I told him, "That gives me more right than you." I reached for the handle but the man shoved himself in front if me, knocking me back a few steps. He reached for the handle but it had already relocked. I was trapped in the cubicle class corridor of the entrance with him.
"Your a little shit you know that? All I wanted was to visit my goddamn friend." He was starting to get hostile so I backed away and turned to leave. I imagined him coming up behind me and knifing me in the back or something, but I just didn't want to deal with him so I didn't look back.
"Where do you think your going?" he called at me. I could hear him following. "Come back here asshole," he shouted. I just kept walking, trying to ignore the harassment. The parking lot was a dark stretch, probably the worst place I could have turned. I was starting to panic just before a set of headlights turned in.
"Hey Sam, what are you doing wandering around out here? Your car is parked right by the door."
I jumped into Jack's front seat without answering.
"Just drive, don't stay here. Someone is following me."
"Dude, just chill. No one is following you."
He must have seen the fear in me because he followed my directions.
"Where should I go?"
He had left the parking lot and turned onto the road facing the front entrance. As we went by I searched for the man. There was nobody to be seen anywhere, and the entrance was clear.
"This is stupid. There's no one anywhere. You're just trippin'."
I hesitated, but agreed, "Okay let's just go in then."