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  • 34. The Collected Notes of Gary, 3C, to the Unnamed Tenants of 4C (June 9-Oct 6, 2003)

    By Jonny Diamond

    I heard the estimable Jonny Diamond read this story at an event over the summer, and I’ve laughed every time I’ve thought about it since—which struck me as an excellent reason to share it with you. It reminds me of the great New York apartment movies of the 1960s, of which there were so many: A Thousand Clowns, The Apartment, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, of course The Odd Couple. Yet it’s as universal as paper walls in a cheap illegal sublet—and much funnier besides.

    June 9

    Dear 4C,

    Hi! Welcome to the building. This is Gary from 3C, right below you (I can hear every move you make . . . Ha ha, joking). So, we have a great little building here and I’m sure you guys will make it even better—just don’t try to sneak any cats in (ha ha, joking, I’m sure you won’t). Anyway, look forward to meeting you in the hall . . . Or just come say hi!
    Gary, 3C

    *

    June 23

    Dear 4C,

    Hey, guys, I guess we still haven’t run into each other. You know you can always come down and say hello! Anyway, I hope the building’s treating you right. Me and Mrs. Katchoulourian from 2A are playing whist tomorrow night on the roof, and you’re welcome to join! See you there?
    Gary, 3C

    *

    July 1

    Dear Emily and Joe,

    I intercepted the mailman to get a peek at the names of the mysterious inhabitants of 4C, just so I didn’t have to keep addressing you by your apartment number (my cousin tells me I’m a bit of an amateur Jessica Fletcher!). Anyway, look, I hope everything’s okay up there . . . What was that last night? It sounded like you guys were dragging around a freezer full of ribeyes! I know stuff happens, but if you could keep things a little quieter after 11pm, I’d appreciate it. Gary needs his beauty sleep!

    Thanks,
    Gary, 3C

    *

    July 4

    Hope you guys are having a great 4th. A couple of us (me and Mrs. Katchoulourian) are going to be on the roof watching the fireworks tonight, feel free to join! Oh beautiful for spacious skies, right?

    Gary, 3C

    *

    July 8

    Emily and Joe,

    I’m not trying to be a nag, but what was that really loud noise last night at 1:07am? Are you guys practicing tae kwan do up there? I used to do a little tae kwan do a few years back, in Koreatown. Did you know that tae kwan do means the “way of the foot and the fist”? I was pretty good at it, but then I pinched a nerve and had to quit. The nerve still gives me a little trouble, so I work from home mainly (which isn’t so bad as I get to walk around naked all day . . . Joking!) Anyway, I really hope you’re not practicing tae kwan do up there after midnight. Appreciate it if you would keep it down.

    Gary, 3C

    *

    July 9

    Guys, seriously, what was that last night? I heard three loud thumping noises at 11:33pm, 12:23am, and 1:19am. Not cool, guys, please try to keep it down.

    Gary, 3C

    *

    July 10

    Dear Emily and Joe,

    Hey you two. So, I was up listening until 4am last night and I didn’t hear a thing! Thanks for keeping it down. Incidentally, Mrs. Katchoulourian and I are going to catch an afternoon screening of Legally Blonde II tomorrow, and you’re welcome to join us. I would love the extra company as I’m starting to worry Mrs. Katchoulourian thinks there might be a romantic future for us, which, as I’m sure you understand, is a crazy idea.

    Gary, 3C

    *

    July 17

    Hey, guys. So I just wanted to apologize for the “noise” over the last couple of days . . . heh. To be honest, I’ve met someone. Her name is Janet and she’s been sleeping over and, well, it’s been a little wild—and loud. (Sorry if that’s too much information, but we’re all adults here, right?) Hey, maybe the four of us could double date? I know we haven’t formally met yet, or even really seen or spoken to each other, but between you and me, Janet and I don’t always have a lot to talk about. I really like her, but I think it would be awesome to have you guys as a “wing couple.” You are a couple, right? You don’t have the same last name, and you get separate bank statements. . . . But you are a couple, right? Okay, pop by any time and let me know if that’s a plan.

    Gary, 3C

    P.S. I promise to try to keep the noise down with Janet, but as the French say, “L’amour, c’est l’amour,” right? They say that, right?

    *

    July 26

    Guys. I really didn’t need all the weird scratching noises last night. Are you racing mice? Look, Janet and I broke up. I really could’ve used your help on a date, you know. Anyway, I don’t think Janet really “got” me. Fuck, this always happens. Women, right? (No offense, Emily.) Why is it that the most important woman in my life is Mrs. Katchoulourian? Not that there’s anything wrong with her, but she’s thirty-six years older than I am. Does your age difference affect your relationship? My father was twenty-five years older than my mother and I don’t think they were ever happy. They committed suicide. Also, is there any way you could move your air conditioner to the other window? The water’s starting to pool on my balcony.

    Gary, 3C

    *

    July 29

    Do you ever wonder if any of this makes us stronger? The heart breaks and it just seems weaker after each repair. And do you ever wonder if it was us who invented evil? Or did it just slip into the world, a spit of black ink in the middle of the dark ocean?
    Gary, 3C

    *

    August 8

    Will you guys be attending Mrs. Katchoulourian’s funeral? She often spoke warmly of you. It’s out in Bayside—I know that’s pretty far. I’m going to be one of the pallbearers, which is making me a littler nervous. What if I drop her? What if the casket slips from my shoulder and cracks against the hard church steps and pops open, and Mrs. Katchoulourian spills out in her Sunday suit, her body stiff and swollen with embalmer’s fluid, her face a caked death mask of heavy mortician’s makeup. What if the mourners start screaming and Mrs. Katchoulourian’s great-grandaughter Nina starts to cry as one of the younger cousins, the drunk one, starts to laugh. And what if all I can do is just run, run from the church steps, down along the service road beside Northern Boulevard, as planes pass overhead landing at LaGuardia, and the sweat pooling in the dark shadows of my father’s suit as Mrs. Katchoulourian just stares and stares, dead grin like a dull knife. What then, Emily and Joe, what then? Oh God, why did she have to die? Maybe I could’ve loved her like Joe loves Emily. Why does everyone around me have to die?

    Gary, 3C

    *

    August 13, 3:30pm

    Wow, hot one today, huh, guys?

    Gary, 3C

    *

    August 13, 4:23pm

    Hey, is your power out? I went and checked the breakers and I can’t seem to get any electricity going. You?

    Gary, 3C

    *

    August 13, 6:45pm

    Hey, guys, awesome blackout, right? I heard it’s gotten as far as Connecticut. Could be terrorism, I heard. Anyway, I’m heading up to the roof to watch the sunset and keep cool, please feel free to join me.

    Gary, 3C

    *

    August 13, 3:30am

    Was that you guys in the vestibule just now? I was on my way back from getting ice and the batteries in my flashlight died just as I was entering the building. I could’ve sworn there was someone else with me in the vestibule. It was dark. I heard breathing in the far corner, beneath the stairs. Was that you? I called out, but no one said anything. Anyway, would still love to meet you!

    Gary, 3C

    *

    August 23

    Emily and Joe,

    Are you guys having any trouble with 4A, 4B or 4D? Because I’ve been hearing some crazy noises lately: It sounds like a giant game of robot paintball. I’ve been up for three days. So I just wanted to check and make sure you were alright, that you hadn’t gotten swept up in the noise, that you hadn’t been lost forever. You guys are my favorites on the fourth floor, so let me know if you need help. I will defend you to the death.

    Gary, 3C

    *

    September 3

    Guys. That’s it, that’s enough. I thought we were cool but the noise last night, the screaming animals, ALL THE WAY THROUGH TO DAWN. This kind of disregard for the sleeping patterns of your downstairs neighbor WILL NOT STAND. Also, I lost my job. Are you happy? Are you FUCKING HAPPY? I was wrong about Emily and Joe. We are no longer friends. I hate you.

    Gary, 3C

    *

    September 11

    In honor of our fallen heroes I have decided to forgive Emily and Joe. Please value this forgiveness, as Gary only forgives once. Cherish it.
    Gary, 3C

    P.S. I never really had a job to lose in the first place. I was angry and wanted to make you feel bad. Did you feel bad?

    *

    September 23

    I can’t believe the way you guys threw the forgiveness back in my face. Not cool. You know what else is not cool, Joe, YOUR STUPID BICYCLE-PRINT PAJAMAS. And Emily, you make little spit bubbles in your sleep. Yeah, that’s right. You’ve made an enemy in Gary, an enemy you’re going to regret. Gary is angry at Emily and Joe.

    Gary, 3C

    *

    September 30

    Dear Emily and Joe,

    Hey, I noticed you guys moved out yesterday, but are you sure you moved everything out? Because it sounded like a tiny toy Super Bowl up there—the noise kept me awake all night. It’s too bad how things ended between us, but I guess that’s how it goes. We had some good times, though, didn’t we? Anyway, no hard feelings. Swing by whenever, and we can play whist on the roof with Mrs. Katchoulourian, like old times! Best of luck!

    Gary, 3C

    *

    October 6

    Dear 4C,

    Hi! Welcome to the building. This is Gary, from 3C.

    *

    © by Jonny Diamond. Used by permission of the author.

    Jonny is the editor-in-chief of the indispensable magazine The L, which all concerned should browse and take as a model. Find it here!

    His fiction has appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Geist, and at the Menda City Review!

    And learn more about his own self here!



    • Ashley

      Really funny. Could you imagine living by someone like that?

    • Amanda

      It makes a little sad, in a way. Doesn't he ever get a response?

    • http://twitter.com/EliArtichoke Eli Artichoke

      Hilarious!

    • http://cramandballwell.com Jerry Ballwell

      Ha! I've been laughing like a fool at work. I just tried to describe what I'm laughing at to my friend who sits across from me. “It's a story told through letters from a lonely guy in an apartment to the new people who live above him but don't want to meet him… Just read the thing!” This would be my wife's biggest nightmare.

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