Tuesday, January 06, 2004


Joe had only ever met his new neighbors at the bus stop but they seemed nice enough. A rosy-faced blonde girl who looked to be right out of college, first job in the city. An older woman, mid-30s maybe, who wore rectangular glasses with green frames and a leopard-print fur hat.

Then there was the guy. His hair was fair and shaved real close, a number two maybe, and he was always a little underdressed for the winter, and he never really looked you in the eye, and he had the trace of a smile on his lips always, and he seemed sort of blank, like a being you could fill up with anything you wanted.

Often at night Joe heard moans of deep sexual excitement through the wall. There was the guy's voice, panting, going Uh! and there was a woman's voice, he didn't know which one, or maybe sometimes it was one and sometimes the other but he couldn't tell them apart. Maybe both at once.

The woman's voice, and the things she said, the sounds she made, Jesus Christ thought Joe. Right through the wall. He'd sit up on his pillow smoking and listening. She'd develop a groan from deep inside. It would start like a kind of industrial whine, unhuman, not even animal, and then grow louder and pass through entire taxonomies of cat, of bird, of unnamed beast before she'd climax and burst into thirsty gasping breaths of extravagantly human delirium. Saying YEAH UHHH YEAH YEAH UNGHHHH! UNGGG!

Joe was fascinated but it didn't turn him on. In fact at times he was plain spooked. The woman would sometimes suddenly break into articulation, interrupting a long droning moan with OH GOD OH GOD OH NO OH NO OH GOD NO as though she'd dropped a baby out a high-rise window. There was sometimes a terrible strain in her voice like she was lifting an enormous weight. And a hint of rage in her wailing frustration. Joe came to imagine her as a Sisyphus who succeeds. He could not think of sleeping before he heard her come. In fact he could do absolutely nothing but smoke in the dark.