The sun had dropped below the horizon by the time Maggie drove down the long road to Sandpiper Bluff Apartments. What once seemed like the perfect place to live, was now foreboding. The instant the building came into view, Maggie felt it looked more like the Lake Shore Sanatorium and Psychiatric Hospital from her nightmares, rather than the home of her dreams. It was now a place she did not want to be, let alone go inside and live.
Maggie parked and looked at her reflection in the car’s rear-view mirror. Her red and puffy eyes made it clear she had been crying, so she looked inside her purse for the sunglasses she had borrowed from Jess. She could not find them so she got out of the car and walked into the building, hoping she would not see anyone.
When she entered the lobby she looked over at Mr. Zimmerman’s office, he still was not there. She continued up the stairs and was almost to her room when Bruce walked out of his apartment.
“Hi, Maggie,” he said. He studied her face. “Are you okay?”
Maggie looked away from him and walked up to her door, putting the key in the lock. Then she thought she would ask him about what Debbie was accusing her of. She turned toward Bruce. “I talked to Debbie yesterday, and she was saying things about me that weren’t true.”
Bruce walked up to Maggie as if entertained. “Like what?”
Maggie cleared her throat. “Remember when we had dinner Tuesday night?”
“Sure, how could I forget?” He smiled, looked at her chest, and then back up to her eyes.
Maggie looked away. “Well, Debbie was saying that you and I . . . I mean, you remember me leaving after supper, right?”
Bruce continued to smile while he crossed his arms and leaned against the wall next to Maggie’s door. “Sure, I remember you leaving after dinner, but not right after dinner.”
Maggie looked at him and then looked away when he winked at her. “What do you mean not right after dinner?”
“You don’t remember, do you?” Bruce laughed. “That doesn’t surprise me since you were getting heavy into the booze.” He paused. “I’m taking it that you don’t remember that you and I had a little hanky-panky.” He moved close to her. “Debbie was frost when you and I went into the bedroom to get it on.” He touched the side of her cheek. “You were a little rough with Susie. The little brat had it coming, though, but you surprised me when you tied her to the bed . . . And then you tied me to . . .”
Maggie pushed his hand away. “You’re lying, just like Debbie. Why are the two of you making this stuff up?”
Bruce began walking toward the stairway. “I’m not making it up. You just don’t remember.”
Maggie hurried inside her apartment and closed the door. No way in hell did she do all that. Bruce and Debbie were doing this to her for a reason. But what reason? She had never done anything to them, she just moved into this hole for Christ’s sake.
She reached into her purse and took out the camera and its charger. She looked around the room, trying to find a place she could put it so that when Debbie or Bruce came into her apartment they would not notice it. The area was sparse of furnishings so she would need to create a hiding spot for it. There were no bookshelves with knickknacks or potted plants of ferns, so she decided to put it in the backpack so that the lens could see through the crack of the unzipped zipper. The hiding spot also had the added advantage of looking like it belonged there if someone happened to see it.
Maggie pushed the kitchen’s dinette table a foot toward the dining room so that the camera would have a good view of the apartment door. After making sure there was plenty of drive space for any recordings, she plugged it in and made sure it was set to record automatically when it sensed motion in the living room and the front door.
Now what? Maggie said to herself as she looked around the disquieting apartment. She wanted to pack up and move out that very second, but she needed to collect evidence to show that the crazy neighbors were entering her apartment and framing her. For now, she would have to stay in Hell House.