To be honest, my meth-dealing neighbours didn’t really alarm me at the time. I guess part of the reason was that I’d had a long succession of unusual neighbours up to that point. Also because I had grown up quite sheltered in a small town, so maybe I was a bit naive.
I was always amused by my colourful neighbours in the past. Previous neighbours included medieval re-enactment enthusiasts (who I often met in the elevator in full costume, including shields and lances), a gay leather bar/sex club (I often had to push past hairy men in Y-fronts and leather chaps to get to my front door) and a reclusive musician whose main repertoire seemed to be whale noises.
To be honest, my new home was not your ordinary apartment, it was the back room of an old shoe shop which was now an 80s New-Wave-inspired retro boutique. My apartment was like a barn with floor to ceiling cupboards and a mezzanine for the bedroom. My main entrance was down a rubbish strewn alley, lined with barbed wire fencing and with fresh graffiti daily. Quite charming. I reasoned with myself that the apartment was large, mid town and cheap.
I immediately noticed my new neighbours were not the healthiest-looking people I had ever seen. I also noticed their front door was always wide open, but their windows blacked out.
They would often catch my eye in the driveway with their deranged friendly grins and wild eyes. Little did I know they were actually living out their delusional, "Scarface"-inspired drug dealer dreams right next door to me.
They introduced themselves right away and were very friendly, almost too friendly. Their names were Steve and Rocky and at a guess must have been in their early 40s.
Steve looked like he had never known sleep in his life. His yellowed grin did not mask the paranoid terror in his eyes, sleepless furrow of his brow and the hollows of his cheeks. His hair was styled in something vaguely resembling a mullet and he always seemed to be wearing the same navy blue pants and T-shirt.
Rocky looked slightly healthier but no less deranged. He seemed to have boundless energy and had a loud a husky voice, I thought he kind of resembled Dog the Bounty Hunter. Rocky was bald apart from a long plaited rats tail at the back of his neck and always wore a heavily tasseled, American flag design white leather jacket and acid wash jeans -- despite the 80s being a good 10 plus years ago.
However both my new neighbours were polite and friendly, so really I was more amused by them than overly concerned.
It was day two and suddenly my peace was rocked by a huge commotion outside. I looked out the window to see Steve and Rocky shouting and chasing a young man down our shared driveway with knives raised above their heads and their tasseled jackets flowing in the wind.
As quickly as the commotion started it was over, they quickly returned back to their house talking animatedly. This was all a bit concerning, but maybe they were just playing a game?
I slowly started to wonder more about my new neighbours. They seemed to have quite a lot of dubious friends, whom visited at all hours. These "friends" were an assortment of dazed-looking young professionals with rumpled to-large suits and ponytails, strung-out local prostitutes and scary-looking patched gang members.
Often Rocky would sit on the steps outside my house. When my friends came to visit me, he annoyingly tried to befriend them. He once offered several of my friends magic mushrooms out of a large bag, as they waited desperately for me to answer my front door.
One particularly delightful day, I returned home from work to be greeted by a couple of who I assumed were my neighbours "friends" blocking my way. A tall, beautiful but very wired woman was using my door as a crutch to openly shoot up. Her male companion sat on the steps chewing on a very grubby slipper, clearly off his face.
After being stunned for a minute by this intense welcoming party, I meekly excused myself to get by. By now I was really wondering what exactly my neighbours were up to.
The madness really peaked a few weeks later. At 4 am I was awoken to loud banging. I looked out my window to see Rocky and Steve intensely hammering several large deadbolts and locks onto their door.
The combination of their strung out paranoid expressions and doing intense DIY at 3 am was so farcical I couldn’t really be annoyed. But why had my neighbours suddenly become so security conscious?
The following night Steve lost his mind. Steve’s paranoia must have reached a crescendo and something in his brain just broke. Starting at 3 am, he started repeating loudly over and over the curious phrase "Hi aye." This went on through until 7 am. I felt like I was going mad myself just listening to it.
I didn’t really see my neighbours for awhile after that, their door suddenly was always closed and curtains drawn. Then they started to have some new visitors, several policeman. But no one ever answered the door.
Then one Friday, I came home to find a swarm of police in plastic spacesuit garb entering my neighbours' house and police cars blocking the drive. It became pretty clear that not only were my neighbours' the local meth dealers, they were also producing it right next door in a homemade lab!
Suddenly all their deranged behaviour and strange visitors made a lot of sense. Looking back, I realise I was pretty naive to not realise what was going on. I guess I just thought they were eccentrics. Maybe minor criminals at the most.
Although the signs were definitely there. Perhaps I had even been smelling the fumes, but had been attributing them to a nearby hairdressing salon.
I never saw Steve again after that. However Rocky turned up again a few days after the police bust. I randomly bumped into him on the street looking more on edge and deranged than ever before.
He immediately quizzed me about the police at their house and whether I had seen Steve. I was so shocked to see him that I barely managed to stammer out an answer.
He then informed me in a conspiratorial tone, that he was on the run, before he turned to sprint maniacally off down the street. The whole thing was just so bizarre, I could do little but laugh about it.