Friday, October 01, 2010

Strangers in the Night


Friday night, 12 o'clock--Shelley and I were tucking ourselves into bed when we heard, emanating from the street below, what can only be described as a brouhaha. A horde of drinkers had assembled itself on the doorstep of the opposite building, and was showing menacing signs of staying put.


They laughed like the extras in a pirate movie, and found an implausible number of things funny. This did not gel with me. My style of sleeping is best described as 'light'--swashbuckling laughter does nothing for it. Still, I decided to chance my hand at sleeping, employing a mind trick that has served me well in the past: I would pretend I was at a party--a very boring, sleepy party--and that I was falling asleep despite all the noise.


It worked; I was off to sleep in half an half. Unfortunately, half an hour after that I was awake again to the sound of unison singing:


"I LOVE you 'CAUSE you're BEAUT-i-FUUUL … LA la LA la LA … LA la LA la LA … DO be DO be DOO be doooo BEEE! OOOOOoooowwww! [high-pitched group coyote howl]


Things were looking dire. I suffered through three encores of this, telling myself after each that it would be the last, but it never was. What could I do? I couldn't ask anyone in their state to "move on"--that would be tantamount to knocking on the door of a beehive and asking the bees to "take it somewhere else please". Only Steven Seagal does stuff like that. My pulse was rising. I needed to flick the switch from passive to active, to strike out at them, for me, and for everyone else in the world who likes to sleep. So I did something that I have never done before: I called the police.


Yes, it was a "narky" thing to do, but as soon as I hung up the phone I felt a deep sense of calm rush through me. They could sing all they wanted now. Yes, sing my Pretties, sing! For tonight you sing, but later tonight … POW!


So although I had gained some modicum of peace, I still couldn't get to sleep--I was too intent on witnessing the fruit of my phone call. I waited, minute after minute, willing them to stay just that leeetle bit longer, expecting at any moment to hear that sweet warning siren. They sang, and they sang; still no siren, still no police.


At around 2:30, the tenor of the party changed. One of the drunks took offence at something another of the drunks had said, and was shaping up for a fisticuff.


Hello, I said, what's this then? Do I have front row seats for a brawl? This might actually have been worth waiting up for!


They prodded each other's left shoulders menacingly (OK, they're just warming up, sit tight); they prodded each other's right shoulders menacingly (OK, they like to keep things symmetrical, don't we all?); they hurled abused loudly (OK, they're getting psyched up now); then they got their friends to hold them back (Oh come on! I saw this already in high school!). They were full of talk.


In the end, they managed to patch things up, and in a touching gesture of reconciliation sat down together on a parked car. This, of course, set the car alarm off, which sent them staggering down an alley, never to be seen again.


I sat up in bed and took a quick inventory of Black Eyes and Feathers in My Cap:


No drunks ...


No police ...


But definitely a siren; definitely a constant, high-pitched siren.

1 comment:

Abbie said...

I feel your pain! We often have groups of kids who must get their older brothers to buy them booze hanging out at the bus stop outside our house, Last week they decided it would be funny to knock on the front door and run away. We thought it was funny to hose them down!! (they hung around, silly kids) Luckily they saw the funny side (after a bit of swearing) and didn't retaliate... Hopefully you can catch up on your sleep this weekend.