76 The Bruja’s Bell

bruja con su escoba

In 2008 Andy and I moved into the area between Washington Heights and Inwood. We lived there for three years, and it was the loudest three years of our lives.

One of the noise irritants came from our neighbor, who lived two apartments down from us. She would ring a hand bell in the hallway and in her apartment for hours on end. We referred to her as the bruja, which is Spanish for witch.

The bruja was an older woman with dark black hair, who hid in the shadows when we passed by. When we walked past her door, she was there with the door ajar, staring at us. Then she would slam it shut.

Her antics with the bell were something else. She would run around the apartment ringing the bell, and then she would stand at the front door. Then the bruja would ring the bell at the door, open the door, reach her arm out and ring the bell out into the hallway, and then close the door. This process would happen over and over.

I remember one night in particular, the ringing was so loud and constant, that people from downstairs were coming up to our floor to see what was happening.

One morning Andy saw her briefly when he was in the hallway. She cracked the front door, slid an empty bottle of Bushmills into the hallway, and slammed the door shut. Then she rang her bell.

A few months after the Bushmills offering, there was an eviction notice on her door, and the bruja was gone a few days later.

Despite the bell ringing, I was sad to see the bruja go. She was one of the last interesting characters that lived in our building.

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