By Mark David Blum, Esq.
“I don't think of the past. The only thing that matters is the everlasting present.” (W. Somerset Maugham)
Can you stop time?
GahDammit, I am so sick and tired of the music blaring downstairs. Ever since that punk biker moved into the apartment below, I spend every moment of my otherwise quite and solitary life listening to my dishes rattle and my paintings dance from the thud thud thud of that head banging noise he calls music.
At my age, I have come to expect certain things in life that I have taken for granted. Quiet and peace are one of them. It had always been a top criteria for me in apartment hunting: Upstairs, 3 quiet walls, and quiet neighbors. Noise annoys me when it pierces the quiet. This new onslaught of headbanging skinhead rage has infected my floors and walls every afternoon and well into the night.
My landlard (sic), the slum lord has been no help. Calling and yelling at him and his answering machine every time the noise is blaring has resulted in nothing. Obviously he has spoken to my downstairs neighbor since I was so warmly greeted with a “hey motherfucking snitch” when we passed in the stairwell last week.
Tonight the noise has been exceptionally loud. It is slicing through the opinions of the talking heads and distracting my thoughts that I am unloading onto paper. Nothing ruins a good muse fueled fantasy than uninvited banging of a neighbor’s music machine.
Having had enough, I grab the broom from the closet, flip it upside down, and start poking it into the floor with the energy to drill for oil. That should shut him up; at least it should tell that sloth he is far across the line of tolerance.
Suddenly, it got very quiet. The music was off. This cannot be good because nobody of the stature of a bum is going to surrender at broom point. What have I done?
Too soon the answer came. A door slam down below. Stomping up the stairs set the beat at which my heart began its own thud. Clopping footstomps coming down the hall. Quiet. My eyes are immediately drawn to the doorknob as I saw it slowly began its counterclockwise slide revealing how stupid I am to leave my door unlocked.
With the speed of a flung open Japanese fan, the door whipped itself open long before the breeze it created cooled the sweat suddenly profusely flooding my forehead. I could see the door as if in a slow motion introduction of the danger standing in my doorway.
I am sure the muscles in my mouth pulled my lips in a big “O” at the same time a reflection of light reflects off what is a slowly raising very big gun. Like a drawbridge coming up to let traffic through, the gun is coming up from the side of the goon and its barrel is tracing the centerline of my body. It was not until I could see the dull lead tip of the shell inside the barrel that I realized the danger I was in.
That was when I heard the click of the hammer pulled back as the trigger was being pulled. Even before the hammer hit, the dead silence was broken by the slipping of the pin and the hammer falling forward.
The spark of the hammer strike on the rear of the shell casing was almost a Fourth of July burst of fire. It formed a perfect halo around the weapon and the hand holding it. The irony of the flaming aura struck me momentarily. There was no angel here. A halo was so undeserving of a hand so intent on such great violence.
No doubt the fool did not take good care of his weapon the way the slug screeched and ground its way out of the barrel. Like birthing a horrible beast, the slug was ejected by fire, wobbling and tumbling, and for just a nanosecond, seemed to be without the ability to maintain its intended trajectory. Almost tempted to laugh, it would have been funny had there been a big bang and the shell pops out of the barrel and just falls to the floor. How many times have I seen that in cartoons? Unfortunately, this slug found its legs and was off on a mission.
It wasn’t long before the sound waves got to my ears. The loud bang of the gun certainly violated the peace and quiet I enjoy so much. In fact, this weapon’s noise was far worse than just constant banging and thumping of music through the floors and walls. If given a choice of which hell I would wish, perhaps I might have preferred the nightly music tirade. Being annoyed and moving have got to be a better outcome than watching the slug making its’ way toward me.
Still glowing reddish from the fury of its ejectment and the firey afterbirth that followed the slug out the barrel, I am struck hypnotized by the movement. Do I duck, go left, drop right, are all ideas that popped into my head. That ‘thing’ is coming right at me and I am frozen in place. Alas but it is not.
Soon I can hear the sizzle of the heated slug making first contact with the layer of sweat awash my entire body. Right on my forehead, I can feel the pressure of the slug pushing into my skin. This is really going to hurt is my first impression.
Amazingly, it was no worse than a shot from the doctor. The penetration of the skin was immediately cauterized by the still hot slug. Unfortunately, the bone of my skull is a bit thicker. When the end of the slug made contact with bone; that is the last thing I remember.
Time just stopped.