The Janice Story, Part 4 (and Finally Done)
This one will be a bit long, but it all sort of goes together...
Janice's going away party was clearly in retaliation for the party I threw. Lucky me, I was home when it started and Stephanie was not. First Janice's boyfriend arrived with a pony keg, then some of his friends started showing up. These were friends of the real whiskey tango variety. Acid washed jean jackets and mullets in tow, they proceeded to set up camp in the kitchen and drink beer. I considered my options, and decided the best thing to do was to leave. I hung out at a friend's house until pretty late, and then returned and found them gone.
Here is what else I found. Poor Bus Couch, which had never done anything to anyone, had a cigarette hole burned into it. There were cigarette ashes everywhere, along with lakes and rivers of beer on the floor. My cordless phone from the living room was absent - we later found it smashed in the parking lot. The posters we got from the upstairs neighbors were torn up and strewn about the beer-soaked floor. This was evidently as trashed as four people could get the apartment without, you know, putting much effort into it. Probably the funniest thing she did was to change the outgoing message on the answering machine. When we set it up initially, she insisted that we not leave our names or our phone number on the outgoing message for safety reasons. After all, what if some psycho rapist freak got the wrong number and liked the sound of the voice on the answering machine? If we put our phone number on there, he could totally call back (gasp)! Needless to say, the outgoing message now gave both our names and said we definitely weren't home, and gave the address and phone number.
I immediately called Stephanie to let her know what had happened, and we decided that it would be worth calling the police. Since I had not yet located the cordless phone handset, she called them. Very sympathetic officers showed up and took a look around, took my report, and took the cassette out of the answering machine as evidence. (I guess we were lucky that voicemail wasn't that prevalent in 1995.) They gave me a business card and told me to call them when we knew where Janice was so they could pick her up. We now had a mission.
The next morning, I heard Janice come home to pick up the pony keg, and I leapt for the business card and the cordless phone, which one of the officers had located for me the night before. I called the number, but was scared out of my mind that Janice would hear me, and was just scared in general of what else she was plotting. The guy that answered the phone was decidedly not sympathetic or understanding. I guess Sympathetic Cop was on vacation as of that day, and this was his substitute, Sarcastic Cop. I explained my situation in a whisper, and Sarcastic Cop said, "Um... are you whispering, ma'am?" I told him I was, and that I didn't want her to hear me. He said, "Uh-huh." It was clear this was not going to be an easy battle, and let's face it, Janice was probably not sticking around, so I thanked him for being so helpful and hung up.
Stephanie and I had another strategy session, and through some digging around (again, friend of a friend) found out where Janice's parents lived. It was pretty close to where a friend of ours lived, so we set up a home base of surveillance operations there with Stephanie, her boyfriend, and me. It was kind of surreal - it felt like a regular hanging out/party evening except for the times when we would go driving by our target house to see if we saw Janice's car. Then we'd hang out some more, switch cars, and drive by again. Oh yeah, we were total pros at this. Finally, pay dirt. We called the police again, and they asked for our phone number so they could call us once they had her in custody. We booked it back to our apartment and waited. And waited and waited - man, it seemed like the longest wait in the world but we were far to excited to sleep.
Finally the call came in, and it was ONE IN THE MORNING. Oh dear lord, they went and arrested her at her parents' house after midnight. This was worth its weight in gold to us, we were so happy. Did she have to post bail? Did this cost someone money? It was too good. The officer in charge asked us what happened, then asked her about it, then asked questions back and forth. He indicated to us that she was very, very angry. He even reprimanded her for doing something so childish, and he said she scowled at him but didn't have much of a response.
Of course the upshot was that nothing stuck. As the officer explained it to us, "Once you live with someone in this state for more than 6 months, even if it's not a 'girlfriend-girlfriend' situation, everything in the apartment becomes community property." So, they were unable to get her for destruction of property and had to charge her with disorderly conduct. They also lost the answering machine tape so it was basically our word against hers, and some pictures of the apartment.
We were just mad. I mean sure, the fact that she got arrested was pretty cool, but we had put up with a lot, and felt like she was getting off pretty lightly. We realized that the way to get to this lunatic was through her stuff. After all, she did have a freakin' deadbolt on her door. I set about to deny her access to the few things she had remaining in her bedroom, and broke a bobby pin off in the deadbolt. Again, the Lifetime Movie heroine in me was screaming in triumph.
When Janice arrived to collect the rest of her stuff, I decided I shouldn't be there. I went and hung out with the upstairs neighbors and observed, instead. I saw Janice come out and wait in the parking lot for something, and then the police arrived. Yep, in retaliation for us calling the police, she called the police. It was almost funny until I saw a cop prowling around on the roof overhang trying to break into my (deadbolted) bedroom. I decided to intervene. I guess Janice was convinced that Stephanie and I, being the master criminals that we are, had broken into her room, taken her stuff and stashed it in my room, and then changed the lock on her door. Yeeeeah. I let the cop into my room and showed her that I didn't have what Janice was looking for (her cookie sheets, I think) and that settled that. Then the cop helped Janice move the refrigerator so she could get in the other door to her bedroom, in the kitchen. I bet she was really glad we hadn't figured that out. It was at this point that she decided that poor Anna didn't deserve a bed. I fished the bobby pin piece back out of her lock to avoid repercussions from the landlord.
The only other major thing she did was to cut off our phone service completely. Not only did it tick us off, it meant we had to pay the reconnect fee, which made us angry all over again. Anna was a good sport and helped us pay for it, but we felt guilty about dragging her into the whole mess. Janice didn't give up completely though. She did several other minor things, like repeatedly removing our names from the mailbox downstairs (oh no), and renting out "her" parking space to one of the other neighbors. We politely explained the situation to him, and said we hoped he didn't give the crazy lady any money, since after all, we had her arrested once! The look on his face was semi-priceless.
As you might be able to tell from the details that I still remember after all this time, Stephanie and I have told this story many, many times. We would be in some social setting and someone would bring up a roommate story, then we would volunteer ours or someone who had already heard it would request that we tell it. Combined we could do a much more thorough job, since we each had our own separate run-ins with Janice.
We always ended it the same way: the most ironic and scary part is Janice's major and eventual degree.