Tuesday morning, I decided to ask if the laptop had been found. (See part 1) So I went upstairs. On the landing, I passed the door of my small room, crossed into the small alcove with its three doors. The door on the left is my upstairs neighbour’s living room door. I knocked.
She shouted to wait a moment.
Through the closed door, I heard she was on the phone and repeating “three o’clock this afternoon”.
As I think it impolite to listen in on conversations, I walked across the landing to hang against the banister and wait for her to finish her conversation.
Someone was using the shared shower on this floor.
A few moments later, the door opened.
I crossed into the alcove to talk to my neighbour – remaining outside her room.
I asked if she’d found her laptop.
No, it was still missing and what’s worse, her photo camera which had been on the dining room table was also missing.
When she and her friend had gone upstairs, they had contacted police straight away.
She’d been on the phone talking to the police when I knocked: the window cleaners were going to be hauled in that very afternoon at 15:00.
We talked some more.
She accuses and suspects the whole world now.
Even the builders and painters who had been working on the house.
Their scaffolding had disappeared weeks ago, the job had finished over a fortnight ago.
Butshe claimed they might have seen the laptop and camera in her room, either on the dining room or elsewhere.
I wondered: had they come back Monday morning, when the front door had been open?
Even the builders who are gutting the house next door and now have scaffolding up to repair cracks, replace rotten wood, mend walls.
They are only about 4 to over 10 meters away from her window, which is at least 8 meters above ground. Oh yeah: its window panes open out.
Her spare-key-friend had told her, the window cleaners might have had ladders.
How these people could have reached her laptop through closed windows remains a mystery to me. Especially, as I was sitting one floor lower, next to my windows.
Okay, I was concentrating on my sewing – but I must admit, I never noticed the window cleaners using a ladder.
I never noticed next door’s scaffolding – at least three floors high – moving straight through the wooden latticed wall, separating both gardens.
I never noticed any of next door builders climb up on the shed and then down into the garden, grab a ladder, put it up so I would have seen it, open her windows …
She told me the tracking software the window cleaner had been talking about, was useless.
It had to have been installed and activated, spare-key’s IT boyfriend had said.
I did notice a few holes, twists, changes in the series of events as I had experienced them a day earlier.
But she had managed to make me doubt the window cleaners’ innocence.
As I told her, if any one went up or down, while I was in my room and sitting about 10 meters away from the staircase, I would not have noticed it.
And a camera might have been hidden in a bucket. (Though not a laptop, I presume.)
By now, the person who had been showering when I knocked on my neighbour’s door had long finished.
I heard something like a plastic beaker being accidentally thrown over. Nobody left the shower.
I guessed it was too useful a spot to eavesdrop on conversations taking place on that landing.
I was told police might want a word with me, as I was a witness.
Fine, I said, I’ll wait for them to contact me.
My number had changed over a year ago, but the landlord had it and he and all tenants know my mail address. Even the window cleaners had my contact info.
Ahhhh – stupid!
She said my mail address was on her stolen laptop …
Upset, I said goodbye and walked out of the alcove to the stairs.
While walking down the first few steps, it hit me.
She claimed the window cleaners might have spotted the laptop and camera lying on the dining room table, while walking up or down the stairs.
But no way you could look into her room right up to the dining-room table, to see a laptop and/or camera – even if the door was wide open – while you were on the stairs.
Even going into or out of my small room, which is right next to the alcove, you never have a free view into her room.
The door to her room is across the landing, into the alcove and then on the left.
The door opens into the room, blocking a clear view of everything and especially the dining room area.
You need to stand right in front of the door and it needs to be flung wide open, or you need to stand inside the room, for you actually to be able to see the dining room table against the furthest wall – and anything on it.
As far as I know, that door had never been flung wide open that day, till she had come back and noticed a missing laptop.
Something else jarred too.