The buzzer for the upstairs flat emitted its nauseating screech; and I knew what that harsh, incessant rasp meant almost as soon as it shuddered down my spine. I rose and crept into my own hallway and turned off the intercom for my downstairs flat in this two story block. The buzzer continued its metallic cacophony and would annoy the entire block, and probably most of the street. No sound came from the upstairs flat this hateful sound was aimed at. I inched towards a window that looked out onto the blocks main doorway then drew back fearing I should be seen. Was it a him or a her?
Ten or more minutes had elapsed as the buzzer rasped with only the occasional momentary relief. Also there had been the occasional loud 'hic' as the insistent, would be, visitor appeared to have the hiccups. Then the pattern of previous nights followed, one that I had diligently prepared for; the person at the doorway began to ring the buzzers of the other flats. I was most definitely not in, asleep, or otherwise engaged; intrigued as I was, I was not getting involved. Still no one dared answered.
I sneaked slowly forward to risk another look through the frosted glass. There I just glimpsed enough to discern the would be visitor before slipping back into the shadows. It was the her. This was a fag end of a woman. I had seen this her numerous times before; and I always, as best I could, avoided having to speak to her. I think her name was Trudy though I could not be absolutely certain. She looked like a rottweiler had chewed her face off and then had, on purely aesthetic grounds, spat it all out again. Thus, In a vain attempt to retrieve her former ugliness, she'd subsequently superglued the decaying lumps back in place. Alas the chewed up knurled bits featured prominently in the full frontal facial display. In other words she was not the prettiest of woman; more border line sick bucket.
This whole scenario continued for some time; the incessant buzzing emanating from the flat upstairs, the brief interruptions, the trying of doorbells for the other flats, and the occasional drunken 'hic'. I stood in my hallway waiting for it all to end. At last there was a quiet shuffling in the hallway above and a sleepy 'gruff' was uttered into the upstairs flat's intercom. The front door buzzed with a slightly different pitch and the visitor pulled the door open.
The occupant of the upstairs flat, the upstairs him, decided now was the necessary time to take a piss; and could this upstairs him piss. Male and upright he aimed at the lagoon of water at the bottom of the bowl. And there the liquid jet landed with a terrific squirt. The elixir announced it arrival in the bowl with a howl of protest. As piss hit water it screeched. The sound of the collision rattled and screamed throughout the flats. If there was any more noisy or obnoxious way of pissing it was unknown to civilisation. This was no ordinary piss in duration either; it was a complete long distance marathon of a piss. The hissing cascades continued to rattle through the concrete ceiling and around the flats.
Meanwhile the visiting her had stomped up the stairs as the sound of pissing rattled on. Now at the top of the stairs the visitor banged on the flats doorway. The sound of pissing continued and then more banging on the door.
“Geoff,” a female voice squawked.
The pissing continued along with more banging, more shouts of “Geoff.” Suddenly the pissing stopped. But this proved a momentarily respite before it splashed on again with the same honorific intensity. Its resumption led to another round of banging on the flats door and more shouts of “Geoff.”
At last the pissing slowed to a dribble and finally stopped; the flat's door clicked open and another sleepy 'gruff' was uttered. Then started the muffled recriminations; all too indistinct to make out downstairs. At last silence and the evenings entertainment seemed finished. It was my turn to take a piss in preparation to going, finally, to bed. Only for me it seemed prudent to sit down and perform the function as quietly as possible. I lay in bed mildly amused but mostly sickened.
All seemed quiet when there was a loud cry that appeared to come from the upstairs bathroom. This time the cry was loud enough for me to understand the women's voice:
“Geoff, me back, me back, get off, me back.”
This was new and such screams had not occurred on previous returns. It was unclear if an assault was taking place. Should I call the police? I lingered; listening. And the muffled bickering returned; still I was unsure about calling the police.
The muffled bickering subsided and by now I was again feeling drowsy.
“I'm getting me stuff,” was shouted by the her, it awakened me and was followed draws banging. The scuffles and stomps of footsteps continued along with more clatter of draws banging and doors slamming. I did not hear anyone depart the flat. If they did I was asleep.
The next morning quiet had returned to the block. It was unclear whether the he or the her had left. Either way there was not the early morning cacophony of the them getting up; the incessant alarm clock, the stomping, the repeat performance of pissing, the clatter, and doors slamming. So hopefully we were in for a quieter spell. During the morning there was the occasional shuffling upstairs. So there must be someone there. But who? Gone was the early morning piss that rattled around the entire block; that would indicate the he had left. Also gone was his car. Then, gone was the sound of their old washing machine thumping on the floor and the her's daughter and that daughter's perennial noisy mid-morning visit; that daughter was her forever yawping and shouting and would not be missed. This would indicate the her might have gone. This kind of evenings entertainment had happened a number of times before and, unfortunately, they had always ended up back together again. The normal noises and bickering have always recommenced. Though this night's was somewhat more aggressive.
For now all that remains is the occasional shuffling sound. Someone is still up there.
* * *
A battered black car stopped and sat in the middle of the road outside the block of flats. It was a few days later, mid-morning, and the sun reflected off the car highlighting its grime. The woman driver bashed away at the car's horn awakening the entire neighbourhood to its presence. No one acknowledged it. Who would want to? The grimy car remained squatting in the middle of the road unanswered.
After the briefest of delays the woman bashed the horn again only more violently. Still answer came there none. This only seemed to incense the woman and her aggression on the horn.
Meanwhile a small white car had arrived behind the grimy black one. And, due to the black car being stationary in the middle of the bend, was unable to pass. It sat there patiently waiting for the black car to move on; the latter's horn still being thumped belligerently.
At last the white car tapped its own horn meekly. The black car, after a few more volley's on the horn, moved round the bend and parked; two wheels on the road and the other two planted defiantly on the grass between the road and the slabbed pavement. The white car now moved slowly on.
The black car's driver opened the door with the engine still running. She sat there, the door open, fake tanned legs firmly planted on the grass beside the pavement, a nasty scowl on her face. The sun shone highlighting her fake tanned think legs. It was Ruth the daughter of the her from the flat upstairs. You'd want a mighty barge pole if you had to face that on a cold winters night.
Ruth sat there fiddling with her mobile. And I could hear the hissing buzz of the phone upstairs; no one answered. Yet again there was a cacophonous nauseating cycle; the unanswered phone's hissing buzz interspersed with the strident bashing of the car's horn.
At last Ruth stood up and marched angrily to the front door of the flats. There she rang the bell as incessantly as her mother a few nights ago.
Eventually a voice answered shouting, “Come up,” through the intercom.
“I can't come in, me engine's running,” said the upstairs daughter, and marched back towards her car and slumped in it; the scowl becoming more vindictive. She squatted there in the drivers seat, feet again planted on the grass, still fiddling with her phone.
At last a door slammed upstairs and there was the thud of feet on the hallway stairs. As Ruth sat there with her bad tempered grimace, the front door of the block slammed shut. Along the path strode the her dressed completely in an unappetising white trouser suit; fake chunky gold jewellery dangled about her wrinkled neck. The her marched towards grimy car; ignoring the fake tanned legs sticking out on the grass and braving the scowl.
The her must have moved back in.