The Brooklyn night was cool and fresh, a balm on my skin after a long night of drinking and dancing in bars and clubs throughout New York. I sat on Tessie’s roof alone at 3:30 in the morning and reveled in the peace and calm of the still night air. I was confident of my solitude, until it was shattered by the arrival of Tessie’s roommates, none of whom I had met. This posed an uncomfortable problem for me, because it meant that when I eventually came inside, they would be confronted with a person they had never seen before entering their house through a window on the third story. I get the impression that that’s a legitimate concern in Brooklyn at all times, so I wasn’t going to just surprise them; I was about to bear out some of their worst security fears. I considered sleeping on the roof in my t-shirt and coming in the next day.
But no, I needed a bed. And soon too, since I was starting to sleep on the spot. Hoping to maybe be stealthy enough to just slip past them and down the stairs to my bed, I took my shoes off. Then I climbed in the window. The second my foot touched the floor, the 100+-year-old wood creaked like a wounded cat. I reached up and pulled the window screen back into place, which sounded like fifty nails on a chalkboard. Then I eased open the door to the stairs, which scraped across the wooden floor like a carriage over cobblestones. I had done all this with squinched eyes and ears, cringing at the racket I was making. And as I looked up and started through the door, I found that I was facing three people standing in the hall looking very alarmed and suspicious.
“Um, hello?” one of them said. He was a tall man, bearded. “Who are you?”
I sighed. Damn it, I thought, this is exactly what I was trying to avoid. “Hi, sorry about all this. My name’s Dakota. I’m Tessie’s friend.”
They looked at me. The man answered again, sounding dubious. “Tessie’s friend?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied, looking sheepish. “Yes, Tessie showed me this roof the other day, and I was just out partying all night, and I wanted to sit out there a bit and relax. But I’m headed to bed now.”
Right then I noticed that the two people behind the guy I was talking to were girls, and they were both holding household items. One had a small TV under her arm and the other was holding a box that seemed to be full of pots and pans. “What are you guys doing?” I asked.
The guy stepped up to his full height. “Oh, us?” he looked around. “Well, we’re moving out. Tessie’s getting new roommates and we’re trying to pack up so they can move in tomorrow.”
“Tessie’s getting new roommates?” I asked, confused. “Wait, I thought Tessie was moving out this week.”
The guy shifted uncomfortably. “Um, yeah, I know, that’s what I mean. She’s moving and so she’s going to have new roommates. But we’re, um…we’re moving too. The whole house is moving out. So we’re just trying to, you know, get some moving done early.”
I looked at my phone. “Well geez, it’s not even 4:00 in the morning,” I said, unsure of what to do.
“Yeah, well…” the guy drew the last word out. “Like I say, we’re just trying to be efficient. You scared us when you came in.”
“Yeah, I was afraid of that,” I said. “And I’m really sorry. Look, can I help you guys move out, as a sort of apology? You’ve all been so nice to host me, maybe I can give you a hand with all this.”
The guy stepped back, shaking his head vehemently. “Oh no, you definitely don’t need to do that,” he said. “We can do it, don’t worry about us, thanks though.” I noticed the girls were shaking their heads too and looking more nervous than ever.
But I stepped forward and took the TV from one of the girls. “No, I insist,” I told them, smiling kindly. “Let me get this for you. Are you parked out front?”
The three of them looked at each other, as if unsure of what to do. Then they started nodding slowly, mostly in unison. “Yep,” the guy agreed. “Um, it sure is. It’s a black pickup. New Jersey plates.”
“Alright,” I said, “I’ll throw this in there and come back up. Let’s get you moved out and we’ll be so efficient that Tessie won’t even notice until you’ve left the state!”
We all smiled at each other and laughed. And that’s how I came to inadvertantly help three random people rob my friend Tessie of nearly everything she owned.