Each morning, in my groggy state of wake, I sleepily envision one of my little next-door neighbors running down the steps, really working on her form.
It makes sense. Being in the Witness Protection Program, she is unable to join any extracurricular activities at school.
This is her gymnastics.
She gets to the third-from-last step, then leaps high into the air and does a half-lutz triple-axel thunder-dive. Sticking the landing, she raises her arms in the air like a Y, smiles, and then rotates ninety degrees and reestablishes her stance and smile.
“A wonderful display of gymnastics,” that male gymnastics commentator says in my head as I drift back to sleep. “We will just have to wait and see what the judges score for this talented, young, home-schooled New Jersey native……….”
Sometimes, she forgets things upstairs and gets more chances for a perfect score.
As I lay there, tired and enraged, I wonder if they are trying to punish me for something. I think about my daily coming and goings and try to imagine what I sound like on their side of the wall. I mean, I thought I flushed the toilet quietly the night before.
* * *
I’m sitting there, in that movie theatre, no longer by myself. I’m trying to pay attention to what is happening on the screen, but my eyes simply insist on working their peripherals.
Shoveling popcorn into his mouth. That is what this guy is doing. Right there next to me in this huge theatre. Shoveling popcorn into his mouth and making throaty noises as he attempts to use his larynx to dispel some stuck kernel shells.
He’s all settled into his seat, hunched down and legs spread like he is a woman at a gynecologist. If he wasn’t in my personal bubble before, he certainly is now.
That is when his wife and two daughters enter the theatre. His wife sits down on the other side of me, leans over, and asks what she missed.
He answers in full detail.
Previously, I was too busy paying attention to him, so I am interested in catching up on what I missed, but I am distracted again: his daughters have sat directly behind me and are kicking my chair whilst talking on their cell phones. To each other.
* * *
Two months ago, it was one of the girl’s birthdays.
One night, there were many cars outside and many children next door.
One of her presents was Dance Dance Revolution – a video game in which the players dance to coordinated moves. On my end, however, it is Stomp Stomp Armageddon.
Fortunately, the family’s obsession with this game (and it was an obsession) only lasted about a month before they moved onto phase two of RYMBL (Ruin Youngman Brown’s Life).
Their newest tradition, which is perhaps the worst of them all, occurs on Sunday mornings.
They blast music. From 11AM until 2PM, like clockwork.
As tired-eyed Petack asked during his visit: “Are we invited to the Sunday morning rave next door?”
However unbelievable it might be that such a massive amount of thunderous club music could be the setting for anything other than drug-induced merrymaking found typically at a rave, I have determined that it is something else entirely. It is cleaning day.
During the silent reprieve offered for a few seconds between songs, a vacuum can sometimes be heard.
That’s right, their music is amplified to a volume that is able to clearly be heard while standing on the other side of the house with a running vacuum in hand.
How loud could it possibly be, you ask?
I have documented it for you below:
As evidenced above, they played the music so loud that I was able to successfully tag a song using Shazam.
Through a wall.
* * *
The movie is about halfway over, but the girls have grown tired of it. They are running around with sparklers, but the parents don’t seem to notice. Instead, mom and dad are lost in the movie, she to my left and he to my right. They are holding hands, imprisoning me with a human lap belt.
Inexplicably, one of the girls has found a gun and begins shooting the screen.
BANG BANG BANG!
The projector shoots beams of light through the bullet holes to the wall beyond.
The other little cherub giggles as she blows the smoke from the rocket launcher perched on her shoulder.
She has destroyed the first few rows of the theatre.
A bit of smoke from the rocket launcher enters my lungs, and I let out a tiny cough.
Offended, the mom and dad turn to me, saying, “Shhhhhhh!”
“Sorry,” I whisper, then slink into my chair, embarrassed.
* * *
The moment I tagged the song through Shazam is when I realized that no clan of human beings could possibly be so inconsiderate without actually hating me for some reason.
Perhaps they are simply just angry about my presence. Nobody else lived on the entire street last winter, and they must have grown accustomed to it. But the fact that I go about my day-to-day life like a Ninja makes me wonder what, exactly, I do that must bother them so much.
They never hear me make a noise. Ever.
He is quiet. Too quiet.
That is what they think as they peek through their blinds and see me tip-toeing up the stairs. They look at each other and realize that they have been made. The Witness Protection Program has failed them. Clearly, someone taking such care to make so little noise is not someone who is striving to be a courteous neighbor, but someone who is attempting to avoid detection.
Whoever they are hiding from has found them, they must think. And I was hired to keep an eye on them. They hate me for it, which is why they make so much noise…
Yep, this is the only possible explanation.
But on the other hand… maybe they are just assholes.