I know there is something wrong with my neighbors, Kyle and Cheryl, in particular Cheryl, but since Kyle lives there, too, they're a couple, and they interact, her problem is his problem.
1:25 Sunday morning she arrives home after stomping up the stairs and, prior to that, I believe, shouting down the street for someone, perhaps Kyle, to walk if they wanted to get home. In any case, she arrives, stomps up the ancient wooden stairs, sobs loudly enough that I can hear her. I fear the floor is flooding tears.
1:32 Kyle makes his way up the stairs, works his magic with the keys, and lets himself into the apartment across the way, and, after closing the door, pulls a classic Rocky moment (Adrian?—you know the half-conscious whine to Talia Shire as he survives the ring, bloodied but ready for a sequel?), but with a little more drunk and a little less face beaten in.
“Stop talking like your dad,” she says. Pleads, commands, cajoles or cries.
At 1:35 there are more sobs; in the distance I hear the never ending siren of a police car as it becomes a squad of cars, a flock driving in unison, a choir singing as one, and then it is gone as a car drives by along my street and the sound of its engine, its tires, mutes all else. Cheryl sobs some more, this time in their living room, not in their kitchen, and the sobs move left to right to left behind me in stereo. A door shuts, perhaps the bathroom. Elsewhere as the crying continues the floor creaks, so perhaps he paces or broods.
By 1:41 the hum of my refrigerator and the clacking of my typing drown out all other sounds. I would rather type silently.
A week or so after I moved in I met Kyle and Cheryl one evening when Kyle knocked on my door. A kitten had gotten in the house. More of a young cat, really, but that is beside the point, and Kyle wondered whether it was mine. I said no, realized this was a good time to meet the neighbors, and introduced myself. I got their names out of it, and we haven't spoken since. I never cross paths with the neighbors below us, who have the whole first floor in what must be a rather nice, renovated two-bedroom apartment, but the other night I saw the guy on his exercise bike through the window as I walked home, and Friday evening he was watching TV. As for the lovebirds across the way, in the morning they are always chipper, and pick up coffee-to-go from either Ground Zero or Mother Fool's—it is hard to recall—usually before I am entirely awake. Several times a week there is nondescript arguing, often accompanied by crying on her part, and I wonder whether this is just part of a dysfunctional but typical wash, rinse, repeat nagging and makeup act, or whether I'm witness to something both meaner and stupider.
It's a cycle , and I can't tell whether they're both too stupid to change or whether it's what makes their relationship function. They're bipolar in tandem.
At 1:47 the open-mouthed-sobbing resumes.
—January 7 2007