I was right then, after all. The bloke in the right first floor flat has moved out. I had my suspicions that he was on his way two months ago when assortments of people were looking out from the balcony & inspecting the outside store cupboard. Prospective tenants I thought to myself (those polite expressions of interest & private calculation).
I don't think we ever exchanged more than a few sentences in the three - maybe four? - years he's been there. Once, to warn him about some magpies that were flapping around his open terrace door; a couple of times, to ask him to turn down his music. Which is, I suppose, not unusual for this kind of short term tenancy. People come, people go. There's little intention of putting down roots & therefore why get to know anyone?
It's not as though I - we - will miss him. Rather, simply notice what isn't there any longer. The obsessive vacuuming (did he have a dust allergy?); the ginger cat that mewled through the balcony railings as if craving the gardens below; his plasma TV way out of proportion with the living room which made his flat an aquarium after dark; those summer afternoons & a girlfriend yodelling to climax; the can of lager & cigarette tanning sessions; the enormously dull & protracted conversations on the phone (seemingly oblivious that everyone could hear); the mini barbecue gift that never got used; the lovingly tended window boxes of flowers that were then abruptly left to wilt; the occasional friends who'd stand & smoke & joke & then disappear indoors ... & it remains a mystery (to me) what he did for a living. For long periods, it seemed, absolutely nothing as against irregular times of day there or not there. A private income? Nurse in a local hospital? Nightwatchman? Gigolo? Chef? Student? A secret packed up with the rest of his belongings.
So for now the flat stands empty. The door to the balcony firmly closed. & the ginger cat mewling at pastures new.