Monthly Archives: November 2014

In Cahoots

It’s strange now to see anyone using a pay phone. Stranger still to see anyone using a payphone on the subway platform, but there she was.

The woman in the farmer’s galoshes.

I don’t want to reveal too much; I don’t want to, you know, compromise her identity or anything, the woman in the farmer’s galoshes with the big scar running from the corner of her left eye to the middle of her rather prominent forehead.

She picked up the phone and dialled, punching in the numbers without hardly ever even looking at the keypad.

The phone rang a few times, it must have, before she got an answer. She tapped her thick fingers against the plastic sides of the telephone booth as she waited.

Her nails were immaculate.

“So you’re home after all,” she said, finally. “Meet me at our spot in half an hour.”

A pause, the heavy underground air ringing my ears.

“Oh, sorry. Did I wake you? Alright then. Meet me at our spot in an hour. Can you get to our spot in an hour? Is an hour enough? Alright then. I’ll meet you at our spot in an hour.”

She hung up the phone, placed the receiver back in its cradle with a semi-satisfying click, the woman with immaculate nails in the farmer’s galoshes with the big scar running from the corner of her left eye to the middle of her rather prominent forehead.

And there I was. Standing there, right next to the booth, the action, pretending to read Didon’s Play It As It Lays, and trying to be cool, just be cool, and wondering.

Was it possible that I had just witnessed something clandestine, at 4:00PM on a Sunday?

I mean, should I even be telling you this?

She timed it perfectly. Our train arrived. The doors opened and the woman got onto the subway car ahead of me.

I tried to catch her eye as she turned, and I failed.

Didion, Joan. (2005). Play It As It Lays: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (revised paperback edition): New York.

Leave a comment

Filed under People, Places

Goodbye, Downstairs Neighbours

Near the end, they fought constantly; the shouts and rumblings from below almost becoming another rhythm to the creaks and sighs of the old house we shared.

But this one discordant; this one malicious and terrifying.

Every night another screaming match, another shitty day at work, another day the dog was walked.

Doors slamming, the baby crying, the dog barking.

Things going bump in the night.

Jesus, man! Nobody stood by you when you needed them. Only me. I’m the only one you fucking have and now if you’re not going to fucking smarten up, I’m not sure what I’m going to do! Stop being such a little stuck-up bitch!

You’re the bitch! You’re the one who’s not worth a fucking shit you fucking asshole bitch!

You listen to me. Shut. The. Fuck. Up. Don’t make me say it again. Jesus, man. Fuck!




I tried turning up the T.V., or going into the other room. I tried staying out a little later after work and visiting my parents’ place on the weekends.

We bought a sound machine to drown out the noise.

But it was no good making excuses.

So, I just listened.

I listened every night, every time they started fighting.

Just in case.

If things went from bad to worse.

One call.

Dial 9-11.

Get help.

Thinking all the while, when I hear it, I’ll know. When it happens, I will call.
And then, when the landlord said the people downstairs would be out by the end of October, I realized that as much as I wanted them to move out and leave us for good, forever, that as much as I wanted to rest easy, finally, in my own home, what I really wanted was for them never to have moved into the house in the first place.

How naïve.
It’s been two weeks now since the downstairs neighbours moved out and the days before that were some of the worst ever. But no call was placed.

I didn’t call.
At night I listen to the silence of the house and breathe in the stillness all around me. It is in those moments that I think about them, still, and wonder where they have gone and why the left and what brought them to the apartment downstairs in the first place.

And I sometimes wonder, now what will they do?

What will they do without me?

Leave a comment

Filed under People