My upstairs neighbor | writing during the lockdown

Updated: Mar 29

This was the most fun I've ever had writing anything, ever. I hope you enjoy Jimbo's story as much as I did creating it.

Today's sentence was "I've only ever met one man I'd truly call interesting." I wrote for 30 minutes and from it, flourished this piece.

I’ve only ever met one man I’d truly call interesting. He lived directly above up and his name was Jimbo-Jee Patterson. He told people to call him Pat, but as his downstairs neighbor, I was allowed to call him Jimbo. When I first saw him, he was moving in. None of his clothes matched and were all a little too tight. He had a small, hot pink, rolling suitcase, and a backpack, as though he was leaving to board a flight and was planning to only stay one night. He was older, white hairs poking out from his baseball cap and sagging skin around his eyes. Standing in my doorway, watching him climb the stairs, I asked if he wanted help, and he politely declined.

“This is all I have, but thank you, boy.”

I couldn’t believe that was all he had, but I restricted myself from questioning him. I nodded once, then returned to my small, studio apartment. It wasn’t much, a few movie posters on the walls and a futon, which doubled as a bed, positioned next to the refrigerator--its hum, I discovered, relaxed me and helped me fall asleep.

The balcony is what won me over in the first place. It overlooked the entire city and was large enough for a small table and chairs. I spent my life out on that balcony. It was my escape from everything, especially at night when the city lights beamed and danced wildly in the distance. I was only three stories up, but from where I stood on the balcony, I felt as though the entire world was at my fingertips.

When Jimbo moved in above me, my little paradise became much less quiet. He was noisy and always had people over, all day and all night. And at around two in the morning, everyone left expect a girl, maybe two, and I wouldn’t be able to sleep. Even the refrigerator hum couldn’t overcome the insanity of Jimbo in bed with women.

It took me two weeks to build up the courage and tell him to quiet down. I knocked on his door and within a few seconds, he had burst it open, a wild smile on his face. To my surprise, no one was home, but then again it was nine in the morning.

“Coffee?” he asked before I could even speak, my fist still mid-air. I glanced Jimbo up and down and saw that he was wearing nothing but a red and black, plaid robe and fuzzy, wool socks. His white chest hair stuck out all over and although I felt uncomfortable, entering his apartment, I nodded.

His place was identical to mine, except everything was bright and mix-matched and honestly, his decorating skills looked like hell. But I could tell by a simple sweep of my eyes that this place was his. It was him in an apartment. String lights hung from all over and he didn’t have a table, just a bunch of bing-bags and I found myself wondering, When did he bring up the rest of his stuff?

He poured me some light-roast coffee and when he asked if I wanted cream or sugar, I told him I liked it black. It was the best coffee I’ve ever had in my life.

While I gulped down the sweet goodness that I still long for today, settled in a purple bing-bag chair, Jimbo proceeded to tell me his life story. He grew up in a small town in India and traveled the entire world before he turned five. “I wish I could remember any of it,” he told me, laughing. He and his family then moved to America. Ohio of all places. He grew up as a normal child, attending grade school, playing soccer outside with his neighbors. Until his parents suddenly got divorced, and his mom moved him to San Fransisco at the age of fifteen. He had no friends and was badly bullied and spent his free time alone. His mother began dating bad guys and those bad guys were mean to Jimbo and eventually, after two years in San Fransisco, he gathered enough money mowing lawns and ran away and flew to his old house in Ohio where he thought his dad still resided. But the house was gone. Within the past year, the entire neighborhood had been knocked down and replaced with a strip-mall in-progress. He didn’t have his dad’s number--his mom never gave it to him. So from there, Jimbo moved to Cleveland and lived on the streets. His mother never called, and the police never came looking, so he was on his own for quite some time. He met a homeless man named Rob who slept on the same street Jimbo did. Rob became his new father figure and is the only reason Jimbo is alive today. When Rob died, Jimbo was eighteen and joined a gang because he had nowhere else to go. About a year into drug dealing, he was caught and thrown in jail and was there for seven years. He got out at twenty-six and decided to change his life. He worked his way from a McDonald’s dishwasher to a photographer and then a videographer and five years later he became one of the world’s best director’s of all time. He made lots of money and met lots of famous people and was married twice, both of which ended rather nicely. “They were both sweet, pretty girls. Our spark just faded, I suppose,” he had said with a faraway look in his eyes. And now, he’s here, a fifty-year-old videographer hippie, no longer a director, who never settles in the same place for more than a month. He told me that he’d been planning to move to San Fransisco in just a week in hopes of finding his mom, whom he had yet to speak to since running away.

“So, neighbor, what’d you come here for?” he asked me about two moments after finishing his life story.

My jaw was unhinged and I stared at him blankly, my coffee cup empty and lying awkwardly in my lap. “Oh, well… I’m so sorry, what was your name?”

“Jimbo-Jee Patterson,” he said proudly. “My friends call me Pat, but as my downstairs neighbor, you can call me Jimbo.”

Of course, his name is Jimbo, I thought.

“Do you… well, Jimbo… do you mind keeping it down at night? You’re a bit loud, all the time….”

He laughed so hard he slipped out of his bing-bag. This surprised me greatly and I almost had a heart attack. “Why, of course!” Then, he paused, stared at me deeply. “Why don’t you come to my party tonight?”

And I did. And I went to the next one, and the next one, and every other party Jimbo threw before leaving for San Fransisco. Every night there were different people, different girls, and I had no earthly clue where anyone came from or how they knew or were related to Jimbo. Everyone seemed normal, plain, boring, but together in Jimbo’s place, they grew alive.

I still miss Jimbo. It’s been many weeks later, and I haven’t heard anything from him--he doesn’t and won’t ever, own a phone or social media. He said this to me as we said goodbye and he trotted away with his hot-pink suitcase and backpack.

My new upstairs neighbor is quiet and to himself, so my balcony has gone back to the simple little paradise I’d always loved. But still, I miss Jimbo.

I doubt I’ll ever meet anyone quite like him again.

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