People

My Neighbor, Louise Was Not There – Galveston, Texas – 1982

I was living in a one hundred year old house, with a 90-year-old lady in the apartment on the side. Actually, the house was moved on its spot more than one hundred years ago. It occurred after The Great Storm of 1900. My landlord leased to me as a single lady, and then brought Ms. Louise to rent to small apartment. He said, as he came up the back stairs with her, arm in arm, “I hope you two single ladies can / will look after each other. At the rental office, we felt as though you two could want to be together.” They made a good match in us two.
We shared the back porch. She had asked if I would please come if I heard her knocking on the wall and I promised I would. I came home one night and, ummmm, toiletting, I heard her signal knock on my bathroom wall that connects us together.
It was twice before I could get done. Twice, the exact signal knock. I ran right to her door, pulling at my clothes. I knocked, knocked, called, called. Dark and no answer.
Okay, she’s 90, right. So I decide to break in the window. I’ve got a good reason to break the window; after all, I ‘psychically’ know, by ‘psychic’ signal, that I just need to break this window, officer. Scouting the best window, I found one unlocked and went inside a very dark, spooky, after-dark, no electricity on, shadowy apartment. The bedroom window was open, the curtains were blowing into my face, blowing everywhere. The curtains made my breathe stop and nearly scared me to death.
I called her, I called her, I searched everywhere there a little old 90-year-old lady could fit. I wasn’t giving up because she needed help.
But, minutes were going by, I’m frantically searching. There are no answers to my calls, (‘Jeez, Louise’), nor my finding her. I was stunned. By the last looking-place, I was ever so confused. She just WAS NOT there.
Now, I did mention the curtains blowing in the windy night, the fact there was no lights (power wasn’t on, hmmmm). I couldn’t figure it out. I decided to call the landlord the next day and have them come in the daylight and look with me. But, she WAS NOT there and the holidays interrupted my calling the rental office.
I waited. Sometimes, I held my cat and stared at her door off my bedroom window. Her light didn’t come on. Her things were there, no one had come, surely, surely, she hadn’t passed away. I would feel alone with my cat, sorry she wasn’t there today, or that day. I realized I liked her ever so much.
I slept in the day each day, and by evening that seventh day, Louise’s front door was open. I was shaking as I went out and came around to her door. I was afraid. Yes, afraid. I just mentally pictured one of her relatives answering and coming to the door, to say Louise at 90 years young, had passed on. But … my croaking, “Louise?”, brought her voice back to me, “Come on in, Honey.”
Seven days later, she came home. She had been in the hospital. She said she was trying to tell me, from the hospital, that she wasn’t there, that she knew what time I went to work at night and what time I came home in the morning. She wanted me to, “know that  she wanted badly for me to know”.
I told her my story. That, yes, she “reached” me. And that, yes, I did know.
Hmmmm.
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