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Mama Fratelli! A Ceiling Exploding! More!

Curbed's Horror Stories are firsthand reader reports about terrible design, decor, and real estate experiences past and present. Got a ghoulish tale of your own? Send it to

"For exactly one year, I lived in a tidy one-bedroom in an ethnic enclave whose iron grip over the neighborhood was slowly eroding with the arrival of people who looked and behaved exactly like me. I paid my landlord, who looked like Mama Fratelli from The Goonies, in cash at a candy store that never seem to have candy. Mama's two boys, the de facto supers, never had keys to the apartment and small things in the building—like the lock on the outside door—were broken and stayed broken. The whole situation was kinda sketchy. It wasn't illegal or sinister but if anything went wrong, you were screwed.

For much of the year, my neighbor complained to the landlord that water ran down his walls after it rained, dripping into the buckets, pots, pans, and cups he had strewn about his room. But he wasn't an entirely trustworthy source of information, smoking pot by the kilo, stammering through his explanation of what he did for a living. In my head, his leaky bedroom was part of a shambolic lifestyle, a function of his gentle obliviousness. He probably slept with his windows open while watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

That December it snowed. It really snowed, that kind of snow that makes the ceiling creak under its weight. I noticed a very small leak in my bedroom, right near the window. It was the kind of leak that wasn't a leak at all, not really, just one drip an hour. Not even worth the pot to catch it. The next morning, the leak had stopped. That night, I went to sleep excited to wake up and spend Christmas catching up on the DVR.

And then my ceiling exploded. One minute, I was fast asleep. The next, I was hit by an icy water ballon to the face, soaking my sheets, blanket, and mattress. My body jerked to life, sprinting down the hallway before I was fully conscious. Immediately, I flicked on the lights, blinding myself, staggering in circles, slipping in the widening puddle.

I wiped my eyes, looked up, and saw a dime-sized hole in the plaster with water streaming out, sort of like an indoor water feature. I moved the bed, repositioned the pot, set up a folding chair, and watched. All of the melted snow, hundreds of gallons of once-frozen water, had worked their way through a weak spot in the roof, traveled along the ceiling beams, and were sponged up my the plaster directly above my bed. Over the next five hours, as dawn approached, wet hunks of plaster dropped from the ceiling bit by bit. The dime-sized hole became a silver dollar and then, in a sudden, horrible instant, a briefcase of twenties. The water feature became a waterfall and before long, every pot, pan, and trash can in my apartment was collecting the floodwaters that were pouring from the ceiling.

I called my landlord and celebrated Christmas alone, cold, and wet. Surprisingly, the landlord sprung into action and two weeks later, my bedroom was back to normal. Six months later, I moved out."