I wrote a short story about the “Life in big cities” for a competition. Since I didn’t win, I would like to share it on my blog.
It´s the story of a man living in a skyscraper in a big city. He gets a new neighbour that keeps him constantly awake with weird knocking noises on the bedroom wall.
Have fun reading:
I was woken by periodic blows against my bedroom wall. I lifted my head and checked the room. It took me a while to figure out what was going on: I had a new neighbor – at least that’s what the janitor told me in the elevator: She was about my age and in his words:”a cutie-pie”. But so far, I haven’t seen her. I rested my head on the pillow and stared at the ceiling. The frequent noise became louder and louder, reached its peak after a few minutes and faded suddenly. I snorted, turned around and fell asleep immediately.
The sound started earlier in the evening during the following days and disappeared during the night. Back then things were okay. For a while after, it happened every night – always while I was trying to fall asleep. Then we had a phase when the sound lasted longer than usual – at least sometimes – don´t know why. After that, there were days when it started in the middle of the night and suddenly. Meanwhile, it has turned into a guerrilla war – and I’m losing. I don’t know what to do, I’m too shy. I can’t just simply ring her bell and tell a cutie-pie to her face that she is getting baked too loud. I could, maybe, if I wasn´t so tired, but the constant lack of sleep is slowly wearing me out – after all, I need my rest! Still, I haven’t seen her in person.
Five weeks have passed. For half a week I had peace and raised hope things would stay that way – but they didn’t. I think she met someone new a few days ago. Since then, there´s banging on the wall several times a day. I have to think of something very soon. The sound can be heard all over my apartment and I can hardly understand a word from the TV, when her show is on. I think all I need is one last straw to break the camel´s neck.
The new neighbour was living next to me for two months, when, after a hard working week, I was woken by extraordinary loud blows against my bedroom wall . Drowsy I checked the alarm clock and exhaled with a curse. It was 4:30 in the morning and my neighbor had a visitor, again. I had been ripped out of my sleep by similar noises at least three times during the week and never had I seen the same man leave the apartment twice. As I tried to sleep, my overtired brain began to think about her individual dating rules and I whispered to myself: “According to the sound, he is definitely a bodybuilder!” Surprised by my own thoughts I shook my head and rolled from one side to the other. But as the blows didn’t get any quieter after some time, I sat up furiously and hammered untamed against the wall. Instantly, the other side went silent and I stared at the white wall in front of me – I had never experienced myself like this before.
I lowered myself back onto the pillow and stared at the ceiling. I was wide awake now, but started to welter to go back to sleep again. I was just falling asleep, when the muffled knocking started again and pulled me out of my dream world relentlessly. Sarcastically I whispered, as I slapped my hand over my face: “Shit, he can go another round!” I opened my bedside cabinet drawer and grabbed my hearing protection with a routine I had gotten over the last few weeks. At first try I had found them in the dark and placed them promptly in my ears. Therewith I turned around and went back to sleep. At least it was a Saturday and I didn’t have to go to work.
At around ten o’ clock I was woken up by rays of sunlight falling through the large window onto my face. I stretched myself for a moment, got up and made myself some coffee. As the dark liquid ran through the machine, the pounding on the wall increased again. As I couldn’t think of anything better, I screamed through the empty apartment: “Can you be quiet also?”, but my screaming was obviously not answered, as the pounding was getting louder and faster. “Since she moved in, I’ve been tired all the time”, I mumbled as I took a big sip from my cup and gazed at the bedroom wall across the apartment. To drown the noises, I turned the radio in the kitchen on and set it to maximum volume. “What am I going to do?” I comprehended, while pouring a second portion of the hot drink into the cup. Lost in thought, I wandered around the apartment, slurped my stimulant and contemplated. I was still too shy to ring the doorbell and talk straight – the topic was simply too sensitive for me. After all, I barely dared to pound the wall. I walked up and down my apartment and sipped my coffee. All the time I kept thinking: “I’ve had enough, I can’t go on like this.”
It was only when I turned the radio in the kitchen off and out of pure habit powered up the large sound system in the living room, that a solution came to mind. “That’s it!” I whispered to myself. I cheered as I found a way to subtly animate my neighbor to move her bed a few centimeters away from my apartment wall. I was planning to set my stereo up in the bedroom and to buy some bad CDs. Then run them at full volume, whenever I’m not at home. While I had a third cup of coffee to help with my sleepiness, I thought about other alternatives, but nothing came to my mind.
So I dressed myself and walked to the subway station. Then I took the train to the city center to find the worst CD in town. My first stop was a second-hand shop in a side street near old town. Usually, countless shops had old CDs that no one ever needed or wanted to listen to anymore – perfect for my plan. After I couldn’t find what I was looking for in the first shop, I went a few meters further to the next and again to the next one. In my city, there were countless of these shops – one reason why I loved big cities and moved away from the countryside – I had lots of shopping possibilities and could get everything I could think of. In the fourth store I finally bought a CD: “Best of brass music hits”.
With the completion of the first part of my mission, I got hungry. To get something to eat, I simply decided to walked to my favorite snack bar in old town. Even the way to get there was an experience: The countless small bridges, the old houses and paved streets, where heaps of people crowded and you could breathe life –I love big cities!
“King Kebap” was open all the time and the perfect stop after a night of partying. It didn’t surprise me, when I recognized one of my mates in the line, that reached out to the street. He staggered a bit and made the impression, as if he was just coming from the club. While I was walking towards him, I lifted my hand and greeted, but his gaze went right through me. Only when I stood directly in front of him, he stared straight into my face with rolling eyes and grunted at me: “Good morning Ben, I almost didn’t recognize you!” – “That doesn’t surprise me, you can hardly stand at all!”, I replied and smiled. “And you smell like a small brewery! Did you party till the after-hour?”, I continued our conversation. After I didn’t get an answer for a few moments, I started talking again:”Ingo? Ingooo? Hello?” He looked at me and kept one eye closed: “Yes, Afterhour! I love big cities! Now I´ll have a snack and then go to bed!” – “All right, Ingo, would you bring me one? In the meantime I’m going to sit down at a table?” He briefly opened his wallet, pulled out a 10 Euro bill and smiled at me, while he waved the piece of paper in front of my eyes:”That’s all I have left, is it enough?” – “Yes, easily! You gonna pay for mine too?” – “Yes, because we moved here together! I love the big city!” I smiled and waved him off briefly as I walked the few steps to a free table and sat down.
Lost in thoughts I watched Ingo, as he was waiting in line and closed his eyes occasionally. “Someone like this was a studied with me!”, I whispered to myself while playing with the salt shaker and smiling a bit. We had grown up together and moved to the big city to study. Meanwhile, I had finished my studies and had been working for six months. He was stuck in the penultimate semester and spent his time drinking until morning hours. “To each his own!”, I whispered, while Ingo brought our plates and let himself fall into the chair across the table. We started to eat and discussed the last few days. He told me about university and his long nights – I told him about my work and my new neighbor.
As soon as I had directed the conversation to the situation in my apartment, Ingo’s hazy mind was all about one thing: He had a plan. He wanted me to go party with him, hook up with a girl and turn the tables. As he just wouldn’t let go, I agreed to join next weekend and after a brief talk about the best club in town we said our goodbyes.
Back at home I tried the CD and decided it was horrible enough. So I moved the stereo to my bedroom and placed the speakers on both sides of my bed, pointing to the neighbours wall. After everything was ready, I tested the whole thing briefly and then settled down in the living room in front of the TV. Suddenly, I was looking forward to the next knock on the wall, but the following night remained quiet. It wasn’t until late Sunday evening, exactly when I went to bed, that the sound started again. Calmly I put my earplugs in, grinned and fell asleep after a while.
Early the next morning I got ready as usual, but before I left the apartment, I turned the stereo on, the volume up and the brass music hits in an endless loop. Then I went to work. I was sure my neighbour and her lover would simply jump out of bed. It was my kind of revenge and I repeated the spectacle three times during the following week. At work, I laughed my ass off thinking about it. Still, I hadn’t seen her.
On the following weekend I went clubbing with Ingo. Immediately after entering we sat down at the bar, chatted and one beer followed another. We talked and talked and had a few shots over time. At some point I even lost my shyness – because afterwards we had fun on the dance floor and enjoyed a few more beers. It was a nice evening and I completely ignored Ingo’s plan all evening long, as I could hardly find a girl I thought was interesting. However, he disagreed and brought two girls from a trip to the bar. A red-haired one with beautiful freckles and a black-haired one with dark complexion. First we all danced a bit and after we went to the bar together.
We immediately got into a conversation and talked for a while. Ingo and the redhead got along very well and Carmen and I also had a lot in common. With every hour that passed, the four of us got wasted more and more and at some point, Ingo and Eva disappeared. After talking for another while, Carmen decided that we should go to another club. It was meanwhile 4 in the morning, but there were still enough places open – I love big cities!
So we reeled a few streets further and sat down at the bar in the second club. We continued to talk about our hobbies, music, movies and life. Apparently, we had similar interests and wanted the same in life. Until sunrise we sat together, drank and talked. It was indescribably beautiful and I felt myself falling for the girl with the black hair. We got along splendidly – I had rarely experienced something like that. The most beautiful part was, when she shyly asked, if I wanted to go to her place – of course I wanted to and my heart skipped a beat!
On the way to her place we took the subway and accidentally got off at my stop. However, I didn’t think about it, after all, there were countless apartment towers where Carmen could live. It was strange when she turned from the pavement to the gravel road towards my apartment tower. Nevertheless, I remained calm and said nothing. In the elevator, she pressed the button for my floor and my heart sank into my boots. When she opened the apartment door next to mine, I didn’t know what to say anymore. But, I didn’t have to, as I had her lips on mine. It was a beautiful night and the first one when the knocking didn’t bother me at all.
After Carmen fell asleep, I sneaked out of the flat and went to my apartment next door. I had to cope with all of this and spent the Sunday watching TV on the couch. The whole day I was wondering if I should just ring and say hi. I wanted to tell her that I liked her and that I felt sorry for the brass music. But I postponed the whole thing to the next day. After all, I didn’t want to overtax her and was shy. I spent my time thinking of our future and what our kids would look like.
In the evening, however, the knocking started again. This time it was much louder than usual, at least it seemed like this to me. Apparently, she had a different opinion than I did. I thought I’d found a woman for life – she apparently did not.
That was two weeks ago. I still can’t get a decent night’s sleep – I’m lovesick and the knocking doesn’t make it any easier. I should have pushed Carmen’s bed from the wall when I had the chance to. I don’t know if I’ll ever speak to her again, after all I’ve heard. I’ve also stopped with the brass music, it’s useless anyway. Maybe I need to move. This wouldn’t have happened to me back home on the countryside.
Sometimes I hate big cities
You enjoyed the read, didn´t you? Have more! For example: Check out my “letter to a brewery“!