I hate having neighbors, an unavoidable cancer of the social economical trap that is apartment living. Therefore, I was elated when I saw the red Camry trunk open full of luggage. The door to the noisy next-door couples’ apartment was propped open by the padlock. More duffle bags waited by the doormat. ‘They’re going on a trip,’ I celebrated to myself.
In the two years they have occupied the space, I have had to remove every wall hanging from the wall we shared. Their animalistic mating was violent and rocked the very foundation of the entire floor. Picture frames flew off the walls as if possessed by demons. The screws that held the shelves in place became stripped and hung limp, dropping candles on the carpet in the middle of the night. I spent many an awkward passing down the hallway watching them search for their keys while balancing bags of groceries. I wondered if there was a polite way to say, “You should move your bed to the center of the room.”
He cursed when they had sex, belittled her like a drill sergeant. Nothing about the pillow talk was tasteful, and it came in unpredictable intervals of the day and night. I wasn’t prone to entertaining, but due of the sound carry, I made it a strict point not to have company. There was no way to tell if my guests would be so lucky as to catch a live broadcast of Fuck Radio.
I set the take-out onto my kitchen island for the first time in months anticipating a quiet evening. To my disappointment, they stood in the hallway kissing loudly and ran back into the apartment twice for quickies. I deciphered from the “I miss you already” I heard in between sloppy smacks that the boyfriend was traveling alone. That made me think of the quantity of bags in the trunk. I had assumed it meant a vacation for two, but what it meant was a lengthy trip for one. My curiosity was interrupted by grunts and the tumbling of the umbrella holder I had hoped was far enough away from the wall to avoid being knocked over. I took my dinner to the porch, finding city sounds and sirens far more soothing.
I love solitude like a child loved Christmas morning. The morning after the departure, I stumbled out of my bedroom and upon the absence of the morning’s golden glow casting bars of bright yellow across my carpet, I tossed open the curtains and hold my breathe. Gloomy days are my absolute favorite, thick with overcast that blankets the whole day. They’re neither day nor night, bonus hours. I find these days the most rich and relaxing. The sun hasn’t come out, so to speak, so there’s no pressure to start the day. I cocooned myself in fleece and breathed in the warm steam of a Cup O Noodles and stared out into the dull splendor.
And then, the door slammed.
A heavy weight was thrusted against the wall as if someone had thrown a sledgehammer at a dartboard. The shock jerked me out of my seat and broth spilled in my lap. There was audible struggle next door and gasps. I thought of my neighbor home alone. An intruder could’ve broken into her apartment. I ran to the door to see what was happening when the first songs of ecstasy came through. I froze, ears alert, trying to decode the sound. It was not distress. Soon I was a passerby walking down the streets of New York hearing the eruption of muffled song from outside the Metropolitan Opera. It was deafening, unsettling, like homemade porn.
The longer I listened, the more I realized, the less I understood. ‘Did he come home early to surprise her?’ I wondered halfheartedly, already knowing that was not the case. Despite the plummeting force of thrusts that chipped the paint off my ceiling, the boyfriend had only produced whispers of some rehearsed pleasure out of her. This was something different. The walls didn’t pound, they rattled, from quicker, more intentional motion. And she roared like a family of sea lions.
This was something repressed, like a pressure cooker filled too full, steam erupting from every crevice, prepping to blow a hole through the roof. She must’ve had a work friend, someone she’d come to with problems, someone who understood her. He must’ve been building it up as well, raging how some man could treat the woman of his dreams like trash while he must stay off to the side and respect. He probably dreamt of how he would make love to her if he ever could for years, and now had the moves orchestrated in virtuoso.
‘I’m going to safely assume,’ I thought, ‘that she’s fine.’ And I grabbed my phone and my blanket. Even in my bedroom with my headset set to the highest volume, I could only drown out most of the interference. The words “yes” and “daddy” pierced right through my murder documentary.
For a moment, I found myself furiously reflecting on not having sex in a substantial amount of time, and the bimbo next door with her fist in the jelly jar of sexual partners. “This is horse shit,” I groaned, and wished for a minute that I were just a bit sluttier.
First, I saw the red Camry, then the half-naked man run down the steps. Projectiles hurled down the stairwell behind him. The shouting echoed down to the bottom of the stairs. The couple’s door was wide open and every statement from the boyfriend contained the word, “bitch.”
The girlfriend was a combination of mortified and furious. She tried to turn the conversation over to him as to why he had come home early, how they could just cancel a work conference. I wanted to leave, but I felt too invested. ‘What if the situation turned dangerous?’ I thought. ‘I could call the cops.’ No sooner had I committed to staking out, the walls shook. Their door slammed open. “Get the fuck out then!” she shouted, the scratching of duffel bags shuffling across the hall following her words. A few foreign voices interrupted, neighbors across the hall inquiring about the situation. “Mind your own damn business!” she howled.
His heavy footsteps descended, and she ran after him, loosing profanities. My tea had steeped in the time it took the ordeal to complete its climax. There were faint shrills here and there from the parking lot, but the floor didn’t rumble. I imagined them breaking their lease and the apartment being vacant. It was still and smelled of Earl Gray. I found it dreadfully boring.