169 Bismuth Lane

This three story brick apartment building sits in the middle of an old residential area. The houses surrounding it are mainly wood frame single family houses and are more than a hundred years old. The neighborhood boarders the old Downtown area of Oak ridge and as the town has grown outwards this neighborhood has suffered from urban decay as well. Now many of the houses require remodeling (or at least a paint job). The lawns are ill cared for and many of the houses are rented out to low income families. Beyond the run down houses the neighborhood has a couple of old churches, a the city’s largest middle school, and a strange new age shop that has opened in one of the old houses.

169 Bismuth Lane would stand out from the surrounding houses if it wasn’t for its flat roof making it appear no taller than the two story houses around it. It has a small paved parking lot in the rear of the building with barely enough room for each tenant to have one parking spot. From the outside you can tell where the windows were replaced with smaller ones during the 70s to reduce the energy costs, and the front of the building opens up right onto the side walk leaving no area for grass or other plants on the property.

Each story of the building has three single bedroom apartments leaving 8 apartments to rent out and one for the manager to live in. The lobby of the building has a bank of mail boxes where the residents receive their mail. From the lobby an old worn set of stairs goes up to the higher levels and down to the basement where renters can store some of their belongings in a common room next to the old boiler room. The building is heated by an old boiler and radiators and from time to time the pipes will clang and rattle as they heat up, but the rent includes the heat making it a fair trade off. There is no central air but in the summer many of the renters will put individual air conditioning units into their small windows otherwise the apartments tend to get stuffy and uncomfortable.

The manager, an old former maintenance man at one of the local factories, lives in one of the ground floor apartments. He rarely leaves his apartment and people passing the door can smell the odor of stale smoke and body odor and hear the sound of a keyboard typing and the TV which is always set to the game show network. When he does leave his apartment he typically is dressed only in a pair of sweatpants and a dirty stained undershirt, if he going out for the day he likely will be wearing his fanny pack that he keeps his cigarettes and wallet in. His truck is usually parked right up against the dumpster and it is a common occurrence to hear the trash collectors banging on his door to get him to move his truck.

Other residents of this building include an old lady,Gloria Hinton, who rents one of the third story apartments and is frequently gone on vacation, taking a cruise or one of those guided tours of Europe. She will return for a couple of months during which she spends most of her time giving all of her old friends slideshows from her trip and writing what she only refers to as her “memoires”, which she frequently tells people that she is going to publish so that everyone can enjoy the fun that she has had in her trips.

Another resident is one of the city librarians, a quite lady barely into her thirties who can be seen biking around town since she doesn’t drive. She doesn’t speak much about her former husband but the rumor is that he committed suicide and so she sold her house in the country and moved into town to get away from the memories associated with that place.

From time to time college students will rent out rooms as will other people who are down on their luck or just moving through. Altogether it is a pretty quiet place though as there are rarely any children around due to the small size of the apartments.

169 Bismuth Lane

Bump in the Night JoshuaTennant