Moaning, barking, hammering

The sound didn't wake me. It was very quiet, and I wouldn't have heard it at all if I hadn't already been awake for some reason, at 2:17 in the morning.

The slightest consonant sounded through the wall, a lower-case "m." A moment later, an "r."

The noises were from the room next to mine, through what had once been a connecting door, long locked and haphazardly boarded up.

It was the guy whose Mexican TV shows often bleed through that wall and door, but this wasn't on TV. It was live. Consonants, with moans, and there was no mistaking the sounds of masturbation. I could hear everything but the splash of his jism on the wall.

My neighbor finished with a longer, slightly louder moan, but even at his loudest it wasn't much more than a whisper. It wasn't loud or inconsiderate, and only took about two minutes.

It was only the sound of a man being a man, neither sexy nor disgusting, but I hadn't wanted to hear it, and I wondered — can he hear me every time I whack off? Pretty sure my groans and moans are at least as loud as his, maybe louder.

My room was about the right temperature, but I clicked the electric fan on, and faced it toward the wall. Think I'll leave the fan running for as long as I live here. 

♦ ♦ ♦  

The dog was barking, and I heard it before I turned the corner and saw Judith's place. Lugosi's head was sticking out the upstairs window, and just like the note said on Saturday morning, I guess he barks all day when he's alone.

Judith wasn't home, nobody was there, so the dog had been barking for who knows how long, but he shut up when he saw me coming. I gave him a few minutes of attention, then spent most of the afternoon washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen, with Lugosi watching me, quietly, and then sleeping on the kitchen floor.

When I left and walked toward the BART station, the dog started barking again.

♦ ♦ ♦  

At the hotel, I stopped at the john before going into my room. A gray-haired old lady was standing on one of the toilets, hammering a nail into the frame of a mini-window, high up by the ceiling.

When she finished, she tied a short length of thin rope or thick string around the nail. The other end of the rope/string was already tied around another nail, hammered into a small block of wood.

I was watching because you don't often find a woman standing on a toilet, and also because I couldn't figure out what she was doing. "What are you doing?" I asked after she'd done it.

"I've lived here for 17 years," she said, "and I finally got tired of this bathroom window that won't stay open." She held up the small block of wood on a string, and slipped it between the window and the sill. "With this, you can prop the window open, so your own fumes don't knock you out."

Yup, the window was open, and staying open. "Nice work," I said, and meant it. There's no fan in the john, so some air could be a life-saver.

"Ha!" she hollered, happy with what she'd done, and still standing on the toilet. "My name's Maureen, room 406."

I nodded, and said, "Doug," but I didn't give my room number to the lady holding a hammer.

She talked a little longer — not so long that it would've been too much talking for an ordinary setting, but a little too much talking for strangers in the john.

When she paused, I said, "I'd, uh, like to test-drive your new ventilation system, but I can't shit until you get off the pot." There are two toilets in the room, but the other one's busted.

"Cool," she said, stepping down from the porcelain and out of the stall. "Let me know how it works."

Then Maureen went down the hall, I hoped, while I sat for a few minutes where she'd stood for a few minutes.

She'd asked me to let her know whether the wood and string worked? It worked just fine, but I didn't knock on the door of room 406 to let her know.

From Pathetic Life #23
Tuesday, April 30, 1996

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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