The Crazy Lady lived in the apartment opposite ours, back in the days when we lived in a slightly more “colourful” part of town, when we were young, childfree, and poor. Crazy Lady had a face like a pug chewing a wasp. She had a small dog (not a pug, and not fond of chewing wasps, as far as I know), which she used to shout at. A lot. She would scream at it and yank its leash. She was equal parts entertaining (“Listen to the Crazy Lady shouting! Isn’t she Crazy?”) and infuriating (“Why can’t she just shut up and leave that poor dog alone?”).
One summer evening she had her windows open, and was complaining loudly to anyone who would listen about the smell of gas in her apartment. We listened for a few minutes, pondering our options. Was she just being Crazy? It didn’t take us long to come to our decision, and we called the relevant authorities to let them know that our neighbour was reporting a gas leak (what she actually kept repeating was “Ça pue de gas” (“it stinks of gas”)). We tried to get the woman to make the call herself but she wouldn’t listen. Eventually the van arrived, a man got out, and started trying to persuade Crazy Lady to let him in to check it out. She wasn’t having any of it, and said something about not being able to open the door because she didn’t have a key (to her own apartment…). We went out, as planned, assuming that we’d done our bit and that things would be taken care of.
The strange thing is that we never saw Crazy Lady again. Not in her apartment, not in the street. We didn’t hear her shouting. No-one else knew what had happened. Had she been carted off by the men in white coats? Had she moved, due to some irreparable fault with her gas supply? Should we have made the call? Would she still be there today if we hadn’t? I guess we’ll never know.