The Angriest Man in the Neighborhood
The car alarm started at 6:13 PM. It continued even after its initial three wails, signalling that it’d be screaming indefinitely. I went to the Tims at the gas station for dinner, hoping it’d be silent when I returned, but no; it was still sounding off when I got back home. I stood on my balcony and ate my wrap and drank my tea and stared at it from 250 feet, letting the flashing lights burn into my soul. The horn was rhythmic in its pattern, yet absolutely irritating all the same. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
I couldn’t play my laptop loud enough to counter the noise, and since I wasn’t one for headphones, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I usually listened to sports personalities have trivial arguments while I did chores or stretched loose from my workday. At the very least, I thought my own thoughts. But not this evening; it wasn’t in the realm of possibilities.
I took two eggs from my fridge and went back to the balcony. I could have hit it from there, undoubtedly, but there was the risk of collaterally damaging the nearby vehicles. I couldn’t chance that. Eggs were great for solitary targets, but not for tossing into crowds. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
It was the most infuriating thing imaginable after a long workday, and it completely prevented my routine. I tried listening to music through headphones, but the alarm still persisted like a subtle background bass, returning with strength between songs. Like water-torture, the anguish came from its persistence.
I played my loudest, most obnoxious music and twisted a blunt. The cigar paper was loose, but my saliva held it somewhat together and made it, in the end, smokable. There were a few neighbors on their balconies, gazing down at the flashing car, but none of them had eggs, as far as I could tell. Crazy Doug didn’t step out, meaning he was either out in the world somewhere or passed out on his couch, drunkenly sleeping through the auditory assault.
The blunt sent me to bed early, but I woke at midnight, 12:46, 1:12, 3:02, 3:55 and finally, for the last time, at 5:27 in the morning. Nothing had changed. The alarm didn’t even seem to be losing strength. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
But I was losing mine. The energy I had from yesterday was all but gone, replaced by a foggy haze I couldn’t snap out of. Stepping onto my balcony for air and splashing water on my face didn’t help, nor did I hunger for breakfast. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
It takes a true asshole to leave a wailing car in the most densely populated neighborhood in Canada, but it takes a really special kind of asshole to leave that car overnight. The kind of asshole you wouldn’t give the steam of your piss to; the kind you’d step over in the street if you saw them dying, smiling ear to ear. There were many of these assholes around, yet not enough good people to counter them. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
At least, not in this neighborhood.
I scrawled a note in my blackest Sharpie, found my strongest duct tape and marched to the hallway. I could still hear it from there. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
Was there no wall thick enough to keep it out?
The note was what you’d expect; I called the owner of the car an asshole, told him that he deserved death, that I’d be the one to bring it to him, etc. Nothing out of the ordinary. The elevator ride down (usually a nuisance in itself) was almost peaceful. The muffled chime as I passed each floor was soothing compared to the chaotic wailing of the alarm. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
I figured that I had enough duct tape to wrap around the car a few times. When I done with that, I’d sit atop it and wait for the asshole. When he came, well – I’d let his reaction to his own assholery dictate what I’d do next. I was favoring bare-handed murder, but wasn’t ruling out forgiveness; if the asshole accepted his assholery and was remorseful, I’d be fair. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
I kicked open the heavy lobby door and marched purposefully toward the parking lot. Now at ground level, the alarm was even louder. I felt for the poor souls on the lower floors of the nearby apartments, stuck listening to the car at full blast. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
Many balconies stared down at me as I made my walk. Each balcony represented a set of eyes; no, a whole family of eyes. On me. What else was there for them to be watching this morning?
They wouldn’t be watching television or Netflix with the alarm interfering. Instead, they’d be watching me march directly for the car; seeing me as I crossed the halfway point and continued on towards it; observing me as I closed in on the car, now just a few feet away. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
I slowed as I neared the vehicle, then slipped the duct tape over my wrist like a bracelet and walked past.
Life was a test. This was a test. And I was determined to pass it.
I left the beeping car and stepped onto Wellesley Avenue, then turned east, aiming for the gas station. The noise of the alarm lessened with each step until it ultimately blended with the traffic of Parliament and Wellesley. At Tims, I bought a tea and a bagel. But instead of returning home to eat, I went for a stroll, winning the game and passing the test.
I wasn’t the angriest man in the neighborhood. Far from it.
Far from it.
Jay O’Neal is a supply teacher working out of Toronto, Canada who has been published an incredible amount of times – once. He tries to keep his writing honest by only writing about what he sees, but if he’s being (really) honest, he actually makes a lot of it up. Though they won’t be published, Jay is looking to print his first book of short stories soon.