Earlier this evening I was putting some laundry on in the laundry room, which is down the hall from my apartment and across the hall from another apartment. As I was loading my crap, a woman appeared in the doorway of the across-the-hall apartment and said Hello to me. I said Hi back, and she asked if I would come and visit with her. I said No, I was doing laundry, and she asked if I would come talk with her afterwards. I said I didn't have time, and she seemed to let the matter drop. I continued with my deterging and whatnot and realized that she was still standing in her doorway with the door open, and at one point she said "Mother, I'm talking to this man in the hall. He's very nice." I heard someone groan back from inside the apartment, so this wasn't a Norman Bates situation.
As I turned to leave she approached me and asked me to walk with her. She clearly had something going on, so I tried to humor her. She wouldn't say anything within earshot of her apartment, so I finally got her to whisper in my ear that she had a "hit" on her and needed help. I told her I needed to get home, so she said, "Okay, let's go to your apartment." Not what I had in mind.
She also held up two trembling hands, to demonstrate that she was afraid, you see. So, here I was, with a large, awkward laundry basket, some unwieldy bottles of laundry product, a paranoid neighbor, and no means of escape.
I offered to call the police for her, just to get her to leave me alone, but she insisted on walking with me. The farther away we got from her apartment the safer she seemed to feel, though when I stopped in front of my door (probably not the first mistake, but definitely a large one), she seemed disappointed that I lived so close to her (just around the goddamn corner, in fact). Thinking quickly but not well, I thought I could get into my apartment, laundry paraphernalia and all, without her getting in.
No luck. No sooner had I opened the door than she was in my kitchen, resisting all entreaties to leave the apartment and unmoved by my explanation that this was, in fact, my home, and she couldn't be here. Dr. M was understandably surprised by all of this and hopped to her feet as soon as she saw that something was up. Presumably, she didn't think I had brought some woman home, and understood that the situation had at least the trappings of danger.
Here's how it went. I dropped the laundry stuff and tried to push her out the door with my left hand while holding the door open with my right hand. She was clinging to the door jamb, and rather effectively holding her ground. I at least managed to keep her there, creating a barrier between her and the rest of the apartment. Dr. M called 911, which totally freaked the neighbor out. She asked us to please not call the police on her. The whole time she wasn't aggressively violent and didn't even really raise her voice. She was just really paranoid. Anyway, once Dr. M had the police on the phone the neighbor started trying to close the door, at which point I grabbed her around her waist from behind and used my shoulder to shove her into the hallway. Before I even started closing the door (which, needless to say, I tried to do as quickly as possible) I saw that she had taken off running down the hall in the direction away from her apartment.
We locked the door and freaked out a little. We had no idea where this woman had got to and meanwhile a not insubstantial portion of our clothing was trapped in a room directly across from her apartment. Over the course of the next two and a half hours we periodically called the police department, each time being assured that we would be the next call to go out (this would become less irritating later, as explained below). We managed to finish the laundry by going over there together, constantly scoping out the hallway, and carrying our cordless phone and cell phones with us. We saw Barry hit number 756.
Finally, a police officer arrived and explained that they had picked her up a while ago (so their massive delay was explainable, though not actually explained until late in the evening). She had gone down to the beach and started hassling the kite surfers probably along the same lines, who also called the police on her. The police department has had a lot of experience with her, apparently, as she's mentally ill and has a history of erratic behavior. Fortunately she has no history of violence. In fact, she's a rather small person and the officer said she isn't very strong. Earlier in the evening it occurred to me that when I 86ed her from the apartment it was the first time in my life that I had physically overpowered someone. It didn't seem very satisfying at the time and it seems less so now.
The grand irony of this, of course, is the fact that Dr. M has been diligently studying for her licensing exam in psychology, which she's taking next week, only to have a night's studying disrupted by a mental health crisis. The irony is further compounded by the fact that, in her current job, Dr. M does 5150 assessments, which is what our neighbor is now undergoing at our friendly neighborhood adult psychiatric facility.
EDIT: Changed the first sentence to make the timing consistent, since I started writing this an hour after the initial encounter but didn't come back to it until it was all over.