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First night in new apartment 0

Dear Bradshaw,

What? I haven’t told you about our first night in our apartment? That must have been back when you were immersed in all that hocus pocus, blowing around the room like a popped balloon. Well, here it is then.

We moved in here two years ago, and that first evening we had dinner with another couple at a restaurant downstairs. I had taken my camera, and when we said goodbye to our friends around midnight, and then Francesca and I returned to our new apartment, I realized I’d left the camera at the restaurant.

I was bushed, and wanted to go straight to bed. I’d been up since seven in the morning, sweating my way through a day of intensely humid heat. I’d transferred three loads of stuff from my old apartment to the new one — an exercise bar with fifty pounds of weights, a six foot tall lamp, a four foot high fan, a radio and a box of books — down five flights of stairs (there was no elevator at my old apartment) and then five minutes on foot to the new place. I had also worked that day, and had drunk copious amounts of wine before, during and after dinner.

Francesca insisted the camera would be gone if we waited until the next day so she rushed down to fetch it, telling me she wasn’t taking her keys and to open the door when she knocked. I decided to lie down on the bed, just for a minute, while I waited for her to return. The next thing I knew, when I opened my eyes, four firemen were standing around the bed. My first thought appeared through a gap in the fog as I noticed they looked younger than me, and that one of them was female. Then Francesca walked into the room and, realizing where I was and what had happened, I sat up, waving my arms, and said in a slightly slurred voice, “I’ll explain everything tomorrow.”

Francesca says she’d been gone five minutes. No camera at the restaurant, and when she returned, knocked, and there was no answer, she worried something had happened to me. She banged on the door and yelled my name, and when there was no response she went downstairs and searched for me up and down the street. Returned to the apartment, she started beating on the door and screaming. By then all the neighbors on the sixth, seventh and eighth floors were awake.

The lady next door let Francesca use her phone to call me but I didn’t respond. Since she remembered having left the bedroom window open, she tried shouting from their terrace to ours but without success. She wanted to scale the railing but — risking an eight-storey fall — the neighbor refused to let her. Fearing for my life, Francesca called an ambulance. The fire department arrived half an hour later and she had held her breath the whole time.

At first, they tried to bust through the door, insisting they had the tools to do it. Not our door. It was an iron vault. So one of them scaled the terrace, opened the front door from the inside, and then they entered the bedroom and found me sound asleep, sprawled on the bed in my boxers. Francesca says the whole incident lasted two hours. For me it seemed like two minutes.

After waking the following morning, she got up to make breakfast. Five seconds after she’d left the bedroom I heard her say, “I’m going to kill you.” She’d found the camera. It was lying on the kitchen counter.

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