- Blogophilia 44.4 Topic: “Noisy Loud Neighbor”
(Hard, 2pts): include a character from a nursery rhyme
(Easy, 1pt): let a character serve cheesecake and share a bottle of Tullamore Dew
Jill pounded the wall that separated her apartment from her new neighbor. Her feet were sore and her back was aching. She’d worked another double shift at the restaurant. She’d been screamed at, had her tush pinched, and one of her tables had completely stiffed her. She needed to unwind. Was it too much to ask for a little peace and quiet? Jill rearranged the plush pillows that surrounded her on her well-worn sofa and turned the volume up on her TV. She still couldn’t hear the news over her neighbor’s music and she was getting angrier by the second. She didn’t care if they were new or not. It was ten o’clock at night, and Jill had enough of the noise. She pounded on the wall again.
“Hey! Would you mind keeping it down?” she shouted.
Jill waited for a response, but nothing happened. Maybe it was her imagination, but the stereo’s pounding beat seemed to be growing louder by the minute.
Jill took a sip of her tea. She tried to force herself to remain calm. Working at the restaurant had taught her both boldness and patience. She counted in her head, but was up and standing by the time she’d reached fourteen. Jill pulled on her clunky boots at the door, and slid into her jacket. It was bitter cold outside and it had begun to snow. Snow dusted the walkway in front of her apartment building like confectioner’s sugar. She stuffed her hands inside her coat pockets as she made her way to her noisy, loud neighbor’s apartment. A man was standing in front of the neighbor’s dark doorstep in just a t-shirt and jeans. Apparently, she wasn’t the only one that was fed up with the racket.
“I was just about to tell them to keep it down,” Jill called out as she approached the man. “Some people can be so selfish and rude,” she added. “They have no sense of how to live inside a community.”
The man nodded his head. His arms were clutched around his body in an attempt to protect his exposed flesh from the elements. “It won’t do any good knocking,” the man said through chattering teeth. “That’s my place. I went to my car to grab my cell phone, and I seem to have locked myself out.”
“I don’t usually lock my car, so I didn’t have my keys on me. Maintenance should be here soon.”
“How long have you been out here?”
“I’m not sure. The battery died on my phone, but when I talked to the maintenance guy, he said he’d be here in about fifteen minutes.”
The unforgiving wind blew against them both. Jill ignored any trepidation she might have had. Under different circumstances, she never would have invited a stranger inside of her home, but she couldn’t allow this man to suffer from frostbite and exposure. Even stray cats deserved better than to be out in the frigid winter elements.
“You can wait for the maintenance guy at my place,” Jill said with a sigh. “We’ll call them again so they know where you are.”
“Thank you so much!” the man said as he followed Jill back to her place. “I didn’t want to bother anyone…” his voice trailed off as Jill opened the door for him.
“Oh my God!” Jill said, when she closed the door and took in the sorry state of her neighbor. His skin looked ashy gray in appearance and his teeth were chattering like typewriter keys. “Here!” She grabbed a fleece throw that had been previously draped over a chair, and handed it to the man. He immediately wrapped it around his shoulders.
“Thank you,” he said.
“Here, have a seat. Can I get you something? I just made myself a cup of tea. The kettle’s still hot.”
“Tea would be good,” the man said, clutching the blanket tighter. “Anything warm would be great.”
Jill got a teacup from out of the cupboard, and a fresh teabag. “Sugar, honey, lemon?” Jill called out.
“I’m not picky. Honey if you have it.”
Jill reached for the squeeze bottle of honey. It was in the same cupboard as the Worcester sauce and the half empty bottle of whiskey, leftover from her last birthday. She pulled the bottle of Tullamore Dew from out of the cupboard as well as the honey, and headed into the living room with her neighbor’s cup of tea. He eyed the bottle of alcohol with a quizzical expression.
“I thought you might like a shot of whiskey in your tea,” Jill said, “to warm you up.”
“A little Irish in my tea would be great. Thank you so much.”
“No problem,” Jill answered. She set everything down on the coffee table, and then stood there, uncertainly. Her neighbor’s hair looked a little scruffy, but he wasn’t bad looking. She almost forgot what she was supposed to be doing next as she stared at him. “Phone,” she blurted out, when her neighbor stared back at her and smiled. He had a nice smile. “I’ll call maintenance.”
“That would be great.”
Jill went back to the kitchen and got the number off of the fridge. She phoned the office, and then joined her neighbor back in her living room.
“They’ll be here in fifteen minutes.”
Her neighbor chuckled. “I’ve heard that one before.”
Jill laughed as well.
“Would you like a little whiskey in your tea? I don’t usually drink alone.”
Jill shrugged. “Why not,” she answered. He seemed like a decent guy, and Jill was a good judge of character when it came to people. She sat down beside him on the sofa and turned off her TV with the remote. The walls seemed to reverberate with the noise from the other apartment.
“Sorry about the music,” the man said, pouring a little Tullamore Dew into both their cups. I set my alarm to take a nap, and I woke up before it went off. It’s one of those clock radios that keeps getting louder and louder until you turn it off. I’m still trying to get used to the time change since I moved back to Michigan.”
Jill nodded and took her cup when it was offered to her.
“My radio must have driven you crazy. You must think I’m a jerk.”
“No,” Jill said. “I mean, I did but…”
Her neighbor laughed. “I didn’t mean to be. I saw you the other day, but I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself. I’m Jack.”
Jill almost spit out her whiskey-tainted tea. “You can’t be.”
Jack chuckled. “Why?”
“You’re not joking?”
Jill rolled her eyes. “I’m Jill. It’s nice to meet you, Jack.”
“You’re kidding! Jack and Jill?”
“Yep! Jack and Jill went up a hill.”
Maybe it was the whiskey talking but they both found each other’s names extremely funny. Jill was almost disappointed when she heard the knock on her apartment door.
“It looks like maintenance is here,” Jill said.
“Yeah. It looks like I’ll be out of your hair.” Jack didn’t seem to be in any hurry to get up, but did so reluctantly.
Jill answered the door and Jack handed her back the throw he’d worn like a shawl. It already smelled a little like his cologne. Jill hugged it to her chest.
“Thank you again,” Jack said. “I’ll have to invite you and your husband over for dinner sometime.”
“Oh, there’s no husband,” Jill said, looking down at her ring finger in embarrassment. “It’s not an anything ring. I only wear it when I’m at work. It keeps most of the creepy guys away. I started wearing it after I broke up with my last boyfriend. It’s stupid.” Jill felt her face grow warm despite the chill air coming through the partially opened front door.
“Oh, well…OK. Have a good night.”
“You too,” Jill said, and closed the front door. She felt ridiculous for having the cheep ring on her finger in the first place. It figured. Jill tried not to think about the ring or Jack. She told herself that she wasn’t ready to meet anyone new anyways. Sure it had been six months, but she’d only recently felt like she’d gotten her life back together. She was happy. She didn’t need a man in her life again to feel complete.
Jill began to clear away the dishes from the coffee table. Jack must have gotten back into his place. The music had been turned off and all Jill could hear was the clock ticking gently on the wall. Jill thought about turning the TV back on, just for the background noise. Her apartment almost seemed too quiet after the clamor from earlier.
Jill was startled when there was another tapping at her door. She frowned before answering it. Jack was on the other side holding two dessert plates.
“My sister brought it over yesterday. I thought it would go good with the tea.” Jack handed Jill a plate laden with strawberry topped cheesecake. “I just wanted to thank you again. It’s not easy, you know, meeting new people. I’m not very good at this, dating I mean. Not that this is a date! It’s not a date! I mean, I haven’t dated anyone since my girlfriend and I broke up, but that was a while ago. I mean…” Jack sighed in frustration. “I really appreciate what you did for me, that’s all. I should go. I’m sorry I bothered you.”
“No, wait,” Jill called out as Jack turned to walk away. “It’s cold outside. Please, come in.”