Foreign Sounds

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Simply a short piece about an anomalous occurence with a twist at the end of it.

Submitted: November 26, 2009

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Submitted: November 26, 2009

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1,294
 
It is rare anomalous circumstances, like warm weather nights during cold weather months that cause unusual events to occur. Unusual events like wanton screaming outside on a street corner being heard through someone’s bedroom window at two o’clock in the morning.
Tonight it is a dry sixty degrees outside. It is the middle of November and it is exactly two o’clock in the morning.
Brian Grabowski hears the sound of what he takes to be blood curdling screams coming through his partially open bedroom window. This is out of the ordinary. It is an anomalous occurrence.
The screaming spontaneously arises outside Brian’s bedroom window on Friday night. It would be wrong to say that the screams have woken Brian up, startled and soaked in a cold sweat at two o’clock in the morning, because Brian hasn’t yet fallen asleep at two o’clock in the morning. But the screaming does leave Brian Grabowski startled, soaked in a cold sweat and wide awake with his heart racing at two o’clock in the morning.
When the screaming begins, Brian has been dozing in his bed during the late hours of a Friday night/early hours of a Saturday morning. He has been thinking about how lucky some people are, maybe most people that have jobs that don’t require them to work Saturdays and to spend sleepless Friday nights staring up at the blue moonlight as it dances across their bedroom ceilings.
Yeah, he thinks, those people are lucky.
They have the freedom to spend their Friday nights getting drunk in peace without having to worry about all kinds of petty details—petty details like alarm clocks, getting up on time, hangovers, traffic and all the other annoying little things that interfere with the good stuff in life.
It is only people who don’t ever work on Saturday that can spend the late-late hours of a Friday night standing on street corners outside other people’s bedroom windows screaming—standing outside the bedroom window’s of people like Brian Grabowski who do work on Saturday and screaming.
It is just as Brian is having these thoughts at two o’clock in the morning, give or take a few moments that the sound of the screaming outside his bedroom window begins to pick up in intensity.
The screaming is definitely happening outside Brian’s bedroom window, but the loudness of it, and the sheer randomness of it, give Brian the sense that he is not just hearing the screams but that he’s becoming fully immersed—mind, body and soul—in the very screaming itself.
For a second, Brian stops looking up at the shadows of moonlight on his ceiling, closes his eyes, and concentrates intently on the location of the screams.
After a moment Brian determines that the screaming is emanating from a location about thirty yards to the north-northwest of his bedroom window. If his internal sonar is correct, than this screaming which sounds to him as if it’s composed of an equal number of male and female voices, two each, should be coming from a spot of cracked sidewalk on a street corner in-between an intermittently dysfunctional streetlight and the façade of Hunan Lee’s Chinese takeout restaurant.
Brian’s internal radar is correct. The screaming is coming from a spot between Hunan Lee’s Chinese takeout restaurant and an intermittently dysfunctional stoplight and the chorus of screaming banshees that he hears is made up of an equal number of men and women—two each—but what Brian doesn’t know is the exact epicenter of all of this noise that he’s now hearing through his bedroom window is a green metal municipal garbage can that’s located beneath the small window of a two room second floor apartment that’s currently being shared by a family of four.
Another thing that Brian doesn’t know is the cause of this screaming.
There are many conceivable causes for screaming. Brain thinks that the way his employees at work shout his own name over great distances—BriAN—with an up-ticking lilt placed on the AN at the end of it for emphasis, is one definite cause for screaming.
The fact that Brian is only an Assistant Manager who gets his name shouted—BriAN—with an up-ticking lilt at the end of it, and that he appears likely to remain only an Assistant Manager who has his name—BriAN—shouted over long distances with an up-ticking lilt placed on the end of it for emphasis indefinitely, is another definite reason for screaming.
But this definitely isn’t that. This screaming is random. It’s a completely foreign sound.
The sound is so foreign to Brian’s ears that he’s having an immense amount of difficulty in deciphering what is actually being screamed about. He strains his ears to hear until he feels that they’re about to pop. He tries, rather unsuccessfully, to calm his breathing and quiet that nervous sinking feeling in his chest so that he can get a better listen, all in an earnest effort to ascertain the cause of the screaming outside his bedroom window.
With his eyes closed in darkness Brian listens. And with his eyes open, fixating doggedly on the floating streaks of blue light flitting across his bedroom ceiling—Brian listens.
Like a clairvoyant slowly turning over Tarot cards to glimpse the future, or like a mystic staring into flame, Brian believes that he is slowly beginning to understand what all of this screaming on the street corner outside his bedroom window between the intermittently dysfunctional stoplight and Hunan Lee’s Chinese takeout restaurant is all about. In his mind Brian begins to put together a running dialogue between a man and a woman composed of all the screams that he’s hearing.
—Oh no! You said!
—No I didn’t say!
—Yes you did! You told her!
—I didn’t tell her shit!
—You talked to her all fucking night!
—I didn’t even look at that bitch!
—You couldn’t stop!
—Shut the fuck up!
—Go fuck yourself!
The dialogue that Brian creates ends with those three words. It is followed by the sounds of shattering glass and sobbing. The speakers in the dialogue that Brian has deciphered are alternately male/female. The sounds of broken glass shattering and sobbing are interspersed in Brian’s dialogue at regular intervals.
Given Brian Grabowski’s own experiences and consequently perceptions (keep in mind that everyone’s are different) the dialogue that his mind creates seems to fit the cause of why men and women would be screaming at two o’clock in the morning outside his bedroom window on the street corner next to the intermittently dysfunctional stoplight and the front of Hunan Lee’s Chinese takeout restaurant like a glove.
Been there myself, man, have I been there! Brian thinks.
Still, there is something a little bit unsettling; something a little bit indecipherable about those screams outside Brian’s bedroom window that cause him to suddenly stand up and walk the four feet from his bed to the partially open window. He closes the window, goes back to bed, grabs his blanket and wraps himself up tightly as if for protection.
With the window closed there is only silence and darkness as Brian lies in bed. Even in silence and darkness Brian still can’t sleep and he remains lying there motionless and awake with his eyes wide open, a little bit afraid of those foreign sounds outside his bedroom window at two o’clock in the morning.
He lies awake for the entire night gripped by a sense of dread, all the while, not aware that what he’s been hearing is the sound of a family of four recently arrived immigrants from Beijing, who are celebrating the news that four more of their family members have just received work visas and will be arriving shortly to join them in the United States.
 
-The End


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