Story Sent in by Darren:
Ellen and I had been together for a while when she asked me if I'd help Alex, a friend of hers (who she had never mentioned before), move his king-size mattress and box spring out of his apartment, one weekend. Although I hadn't met Alex, I said I'd help.
Ellen gave me the address and said she'd meet up with me later in the day. Alex's apartment was in the middle of a really bad, rundown neighborhood. Most of the glass in the building vestibule was either cracked or gone. I rang Alex's buzzer. It made no sound. I rang it again and again, and there was no response, leading me to think that it was broken.
I tried the access door, and it was open. What was the point of having a buzzer system if anyone could just walk into the building? But anyway I went to the elevator and hit a button (he lived on the fifth floor). There was no sound for a few moments, then an ear-splitting metal-on-metal grinding noise.
I took the steps. Finally, I made it to Alex's apartment and knocked. No answer. I knocked harder. Across the hall, another apartment door cracked open and someone in a low voice muttered, "Keep it down," then closed their door.
I tapped at Alex's door again, then tried the doorknob. It was open. I walked inside to an empty apartment. There was literally nothing there, except for stained wooden floors and lots of open windows. I went into the kitchen, the living room, and finally the bedroom, where lo and behold, there was a king-size mattress and box spring, ready to be moved.
"Alex?" I called for the guy. "Alex? You here?"
No answer. A toilet flushed behind a closed door. A-ha.
Ellen walked out of it. "Hey! You're here," she said.
"What are you doing here?" I asked. I had thought that I was going to meet Alex there, not my girlfriend.
She said, "Shh. Come on. We'll move it together."
"What about Alex? Shouldn't he be here to help?"
"Shh," she said again, and went to work on the mattress.
I grabbed an end of it, and somehow or other, we were able to bring it all the way down the steps, to the ground floor. I had been too busy maneuvering it to ask, but once we had leaned it up against a wall near the vestibule, I asked Ellen again, "What's the deal with Alex? Where is he? Is he at least buying us lunch or something?"
Ellen said, "He isn't coming. He'll be by to pick everything up. Hurry up. Come on."
She seemed more and more nervous as the time ticked by, and less and less communicative. I had more and more questions, but I trusted her and wanted to be finished moving what we were there to move, so that we could leave that place as soon as possible.
The box spring, not being as flexible as the mattress, took us about twice as long to fit downstairs. When we returned downstairs with it, though, there was a surprise waiting.
The mattress was gone.
Ellen was beside herself. "No! Where is it? Where is it?" she moaned.
"Maybe Alex came by and took it?" I suggested.
"No. He would've come upstairs to see us, first. Someone stole it!"
I ran outside the building and looked up and down the sidewalk. After all, if a mattress thief was on foot, they couldn't have made it too far. But there was no sign of anyone carrying a mattress, anywhere. I also checked the garbage room, in case someone might've dragged it in there, but there was no sign of it.
When I returned, Ellen said to me, "This is your fault. If you were faster bringing the box spring down, this wouldn't have happened!"
I retorted, "You were helping me with the box spring, and I don't think we could've moved it down here any faster. Can you call Alex? I mean, he expected us to move his bed down here. Surely he was planning to pick it up?"
Ellen was in tears. She pulled out her phone and said to me, "You're paying for his mattress. I can't... I can't do this right now..."
"I'm not paying for anything, and neither are you. This isn't our fault."
Ellen was on the phone by that point. I heard a guy's voice say, "Hello?" and Ellen said, "Right now. It's time." She then hung up and said to me, "Wait here."
She headed out of the building. I asked her, "Alex is coming?" but she didn't reply.
Remembering what had happened with the mattress, I at first thought it smart to wait with the box spring. Maybe whoever had taken it would be back, and I would be able to, I don't know, confront them or something.
Through the vestibule, I could see Ellen from behind, sitting on the stoop, her head in her hands. She seemed to be crying. I left the box spring where it was and went out to her.
"Ellen, what's wrong?"
"Get back in there with the box spring!" she said, "If someone takes it, I'll never hear the end of it!"
I glanced behind myself and said, "I can see it from here. No one's walking away with it unnoticed. Trust me."
She said, "I'd feel better if you waited in there with it. Please? Alex will be here soon."
I wanted her to feel better, so I returned inside to wait with the box spring. I felt awful, and wondered exactly who this Alex guy was.
I didn't have long to wait. In about 15 minutes, a large white pickup pulled up in front of the building. Ellen ran to it as if she was escaping from death itself, and as she opened up the passenger-side door, I heard her shout, "Drive! Drive!" and with one final dark look at me, she zoomed away in the pickup, presumably driven by Alex. But who knows who it really was?
I was left standing with a box spring and no explanation. I tried her phone, and it went to voicemail. I didn't leave a message. I left the box spring where it was and drove home.
Ellen never contacted me again, which was made even more odd by the fact that she still had a good amount of clothes left over at my place. To this day, I still don't have an explanation.
Story Sent in by Darren: