Noise Pollution is a Matter of Opinion
© 2009 Scott Wilson
Heavy, deep pulsing bass shook Cecil's walls as if they had gripped his single-story brick house and rattled it relentlessly. He'd had no peace or quiet since moving in this house two months back. On either side of him were couples with too much time, no children or responsibilities, and too much of a taste for booze. What was it about grog that made people so deaf?, Cecil often thought to himself on these cruel and noisy nights. The later it got, the more these bastards drank and the louder they got.
Last time he'd called the police, they took four hours to send a patrol car out, by which time the party had stopped and he had been asleep for two hours. Bloody cops woke him up, phoning him and asking if he still needed a squad car to come out. Cecil gave the cops a piece of his mind that night and could not get back to sleep again.
It was almost as if these neighbours took it in turns at having loud parties, or do's every second day then again on Friday and Saturday night. If it wasn't the four islanders living to the right having a rowdy party, it was the kiwi couple on the left sitting outside on the patio with their Maori work mates, sinking a few brews, smoking excessively, and watching some form of sport on satellite TV.
Poor old Cecil had sold his two-story house in the outer suburbs, downsizing to this one-story brick house after his wife, Marge, died. He'd regretted it every day since. It might have been lonely in that old Queenslander, but at least the neighbourhood was peaceful.
Well, he thought to himself, enough is enough.
Both houses on either side were going hard at it tonight, and Cecil had cracked. As a younger man, Cecil had owned his own electrical contracting firm and was in high demand. He knew electrics like the back of his hand and could rewire anything he picked up in a few minutes.
Cecil pulled on a pair of black tracksuit pants and a black skivvy and picked up a small canvas backpack. He quietly opened the security door at the side of the house and made his way to the front gate. Within ten minutes, he was safely back in his lounge room, sitting comfortably on his tattered Jason Recliner in front of the twenty-year-old wood-cased television set.
He picked up his cup of tea and an Arrowroot biscuit from the side table, finished his supper, and then picked up a large, black remote control. He was about to press the Play button when he stopped abruptly. Cecil put the remote control back down, went to the workbench in the garage, and came back wearing his heavy-duty earmuffs.
The thumping sound of the stereo pumped into his ears through the earmuffs, almost as loud as if the music was in the next room rather than the neighbour's house.
"You want to party, you bastards?" Cecil said softly to himself, picking up the remote control again. "Let's do it."
Cecil pressed the large green button at the top of the remote. Through the thickly padded earmuff, he heard the high-pitched whining from either side of his house. It sounded like a bomb siren winding up slowly, then howling like a bitch on heat pining for company. The lights flickered on and off in every house in the small cul-de-sac; then the sound of light bulbs and windows shattering pierced the night sharply. The power to the whole street and suburb went out, silencing the night with a heavy veil of darkness. Screams, then moans, shortly filled the void, taking the place of the pulsating music.
Cecil lit the candle on his coffee table and carefully placed the remote control back in its usual location beside the VCR remote control.
The neighbours on either side of Cecil were still, quietened by millions of shards of broken windows and light bulbs. Two of the noisy islanders had been decapitated by the glass chandelier when it exploded, falling directly on top of them as they played poker in the lounge room. The other two in the room were bleeding from most of their body and face from a barrage of glass shrapnel, showering the entire house from what looked like a sparkling crystal sprinkler system going off when the lights went out.
The kiwis on the other side of Cecil had fared almost as badly. They had recently glassed in the patio to keep the mosquitoes away at night. When the power surge kicked their windows out of the frames, there was little protection for any of them. If the large Maori man had not been very drunk and thought it a good idea to follow his friend's wife inside to make a pass at her, then all four of the New Zealanders would have been shredded like desiccated coconut.
Cecil took his earmuffs off, glad that the loud music and laughter had stopped. He picked up his paperback novel and sighed.
He just wished that the screaming would subside so he could read his book in peace.