Saturday; 3 A.M.; the Armour living room:
I was pretty sure the end of days had arrived. Put on your clean underwear: The Four Horsemen were on their way.
As I stirred from where I had fallen asleep on the couch, I could hear their thunderous footsteps growing louder, a slow crescendo into the kind of deafening roar that woke cats and rattled the pictures on the wall. Within the sound of the rhythmic pounding of their great hooves against the cosmos, I could hear chanting … some kind of tuneless wail of Apocalypse:
Baby you a song. You make me wanna roll my windows down and cruise. Down a back road blowin’ stop signs through the middle …
Wait … wait isn’t that Florida Georgia Line? I mean, if there were music to call forth the destruction of the world, that kind of glossy twang-pop would be it, but I always figured the Horsemen would come riding in blasting Wagner or Grieg or Megadeth. Something with some oomph to it.
By this time I had fully shaken away my slumber. The music filled my living room … heck, there might as well have been a live performance next to the ottoman. I can’t imagine it being much louder. I popped up from the sofa, kicking the blanket free from my legs as I did so. I pushed up the living room blinds to check on the commotion. The world’s largest pickup truck had stopped in front of my house. Doors flew open from all directions and a collection of feisty drunkards came spilling out into the street. They were belting what I assumed were the lyrics to the song, falling out of the vehicle mid-chorus. Their voices bounced repeatedly against the neighborhood houses. There were eight or so of them, and they piled into the open air carport of the house across from mine.
Of course. These were my neighbors. I should have known.
I’m fairly certain the house across from ours is cursed or something. The way I figure it, the thing was erected atop two or three converging Native American burial grounds, filling its foundation and walls and ceilings and that little space at the top that isn’t quite an attic but also isn’t quite a room, with the vengeful spirits of those who owned this land before we got here. It was a building doomed to never know peace.
Since Mandy and I moved into our house eight years ago, the house across from ours has been home to a string of semi-wretched human beings. This might sound harsh, but I’ll stand by my statement. Admittedly, our neighbors might not be kidnapping puppies or tossing children into wells, but nearly all of them have been horrendously inconsiderate. In my book, that’s just about as bad.
A few months after we moved in, our neighbors — a single mother and her son — moved out. They were promptly replaced by a married couple, their young daughter (whose hobby was standing in the front yard screaming) and their two dogs, one of which I’m fairly certain was a Brachiosaurus that had somehow escaped extinction. This beast would be allowed free roam of the neighborhood, stomping great craters into people’s yards and leaving droppings the size of ocean liners on rooftops.
The smaller of their dogs, minuscule enough to be folded into the breast pocket of a shirt, was also loose. It marked the end of our driveway as its territory and would squeakily threaten to murder us every time we stepped outdoors.
Like our current neighbors, these folks loved to party, weekend or not. Beginning at 6 p.m or so, they would abandon the comforts of their home for the carport, hauling a mini-fridge and approximately 2,000 cartons of cigarettes with them. From the fridge, they would retrieve beer after beer after beer for hours on end, steadily becoming more and more intoxicated as day slipped into night and night into the time of day known only to college students and IHOP employees. By the time they called it an evening … usually after we called the cops … the four or five of them were howling at each other and blaring awful music from the open doors of a truck.
Eventually, they moved out. We rejoiced. I recall the two of us standing in the kitchen weeping joyously as we played air guitar. Something like that.
They were replaced a few weeks later by a man who was either unemployed or had one of those work-from-home jobs that are as common as unicorns. Thankfully, he wasn’t much of a troublemaker, at least not in the sense that our previous neighbors had been troublemakers. He had a lot of stop-and-go traffic dropping by his house, though … a long series of different pals who would drop by for 10 minutes and then leave, never to be seen again.
“I think he may be some kind of drug dealer,” Mandy told me one day, citing information a police officer had given us during a neighborhood association meeting.
I shrugged and said something along the lines of, “I don’t care as long as he’s quiet.” It was the truth, too. Dude could have been running a 19th century brothel out of the place for all I cared as long as the clientele used their inside voices.
Eventually, he went too. After a few months of renovations, the house received its current tenant, a single woman who, from what I can gather, hangs out exclusively with a group of drunken men who might as well live there. The curse holds true; they are world-endingly noisy people.
Come to think of it, maybe we’re the cursed ones.
As I stared out at their revelry from the break in my blinds, watching them stumble-dance to awful music in the middle of the street, my thoughts turned inward. I’ll never claim to be the most philanthropic guy in the world: I do very little to actively help my fellow man. That said, I also try my darndest to be as little a bother as possible. I try to be sociable and kind to strangers, attempt little niceties every now and again and treat even the rudest cashiers like human beings. Because, you know, they are. That’s how I want to help out.
It might not change the world, but chances are it won’t end it, either.