Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Sight Of Silence

Stop. Just listen. You may need to hold your breath, the walls here in this apartment are thicker than your average 8-year old (if you believe the tabloids). Did you hear it? Footsteps; slippers on carpet. I can discern the static click as the man shuffles - yes, it's definitely a man, perhaps five eleven in height, weighs 170lbs, I'd wager. He's at the door of his apartment now three floors above mine and to the right; number 16 it is, the apartment. It's the last one in the block, top floor. The door lock is sticking. I can hear him twisting the handle (probably brass and rounded like all the others in the block, but I can’t be sure) back and forth, pulling hard to budge the door from the jamb. Finally, it gives. I can hear him wrench it open in one swift movement, but it doesn't put off his visitor who, perhaps, was expecting such a vicious action.

That was the beginning.

After that it all went quiet for a split second, followed by a sharp intake of breath. There was a distinct thump; the sound of a man slumping to the floor, a man who is five eleven in height (approximate) and around 170lbs.

Then the elevator groaned into life, struggling to lift itself from its sitting position on the ground floor. It’s the visitor that had called it; I recall catching the soft click of a finger pressing the call button. But they didn’t wait for it. It was covering the visitor’s own footsteps. If I concentrated I could pick the footsteps out; they were not rushed, but measured and confident. Black slip-on shoes with a worn down heel on the left foot. There was a squeak as their hand gripped the handrail of the back stairs, which they took two at a time. But by then my ears were drawn to the spreading of the blood, the thickening and pooling of Mr Gates’ life on his carpet. If he weren’t dying he’d be really pissed that his new carpet (laid last week, a Thursday – that was the 20th, wasn’t it?) was being sullied in such a way.

I counted 12 minutes and 15 seconds before the alarm was raised. A scream, sudden and shocking, even though I was half expecting it; another 20 minutes before you knocked on my door and, well, that brings us bang up-to-date, to the right now.

Did you get it all down? I can go over it again, should you need me to. I’m always here, except Tuesdays when Mrs Fowler from number 6 takes me shopping. It’s hard for me to do it on my own; I get swamped easily by the cacophony in the supermarket, the tannoy announcements, the metallic clatter of the trolleys, and the endless babbling of the shoppers (talking to themselves or to ‘friends’ they’ve bumped into and need urgently to exchange gossip with).

Is there anything else?