The rhythm of the noise is off, as if someone is practicing their tuba and keeps trying again from the beginning. At eleven fucking thirty at night.
The noise is muted enough to make me think that it could be in the building next door, thereby eliminating any chance of me going over there with a meat cleaver to stop it.
The noise stops, but only to start again, louder than before. The noise is now vibrating through the bed, the mattress. There is no way to ignore it and go to sleep. And because it’s louder, it has drawn the attention of someone else in the building.
Boom, boom, boom… Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock!
The protest does nothing to stop the noise. I get up, waking Larry.
“What is it, Chris?”
“You don’t hear that? What the fuck is that?” I get down on the floor and put my ear to the wood. Nothing. Then I run to the brick wall and put my ear to that. Nothing.
I stand in the middle of the room, staring up at the ceiling.
Boom, boom, boom…Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock! Boom, boom, boom…
Now I hear voices. The music is suddenly louder than ever. I go to the front door and open it. The hallway is filled with horrific jazz music and the source is revealed. It’s coming from the apartment directly across the hall. Crazy Pottery Maker Hag. She must die.
Crazy Potter Maker Hag goes to pottery glass once a week. If you’re having an extremely unlucky day, your path will cross with hers in the hallway and she will offer you one of her defective cast-off clay pots, useless and ugly, as a “gift.” None of them have any real functional value and some have tiny openings, suitable for a single flower or a comb. She is, however, extremely pushy when it comes to this faux bit of generosity. As a result, Larry and I have a few of her pieces. One is a makeshift pen holder, while the other holds the rusty brillo pad next to the sink.
When CPMH is not at pottery class, she is driving contractors crazy for the duration of her apartment renovation. She changes her mind constantly, looking for reassurance that it’s okay to paint the exposed brick in her apartment purple. CPMH is a victim of OCD, as well as ADD and pretty much every other affliction she can convince herself of having.
Now I’m standing in the doorway, shocked into silence, turning around to look at Larry.
“What the fuck?”
I hear the elevator door open. A strange guy comes out. We’ve never seen him before.
“Is it her?” I ask Upstairs Guy, pointing to her door.
“Yes, and it’s been going on for an hour! I’ve been knocking on her door and she’s not answering. I live right above her. The Super is on the way up.”
It’s midnight, and although I would gladly kick down her door like they do on TV and bludgeon her with a frozen chicken, I’m absolutely delighted that someone else is on the cusp of tearing her a new asshole.
Upstairs Guy knocks hard on her door. This is the same knock I heard earlier. I hear the locks turning now and as her door opens, the music intensifies and I close my door. I don’t want to see CPMH, especially in my underwear.
With the door closed, I get back to bed. I hear Upstairs Guy reading her the riot act. I put my earplugs back in and go to sleep. For the rest of the night, the only noises I hear are from the outside: cars honking their way down ninth avenue and police sirens.
The next morning, I am cranky. I’ve slept horribly and it’s all because of her. I would love to get revenge on her, but how? Should I write her a letter when I get home from work? Should I play ring and run when I know she is sleeping? Should I report her to the co-op board?
I’m not going to do any of those, since my anger will fade as soon as I get to work anyway. As I get dressed, I fantasize about what I would say to her if I had the chance. I’d love to make her cry. Maybe take away her stereo as punishment.
I’ve never been good at revenge, so as I put my coat on, I glance down at the desk by the door. I grab a post-it note and a pen. When I close the door behind me, I listen at her door. The alarm clock is blaring, just as it does every morning. She is definitely still in bed. I slap the note on her door and head for the elevator. The note reads: Stupid Ass.