DISTURBING THE PEACE
By JOAN M KOP
I like solitary confinement. I like the peaceful solitude that comes from living alone. I like doing nothing except for thinking and then taking a quiet nap afterwards. My slammer, an 800 sq. ft., well-maintained and landscaped condo in the Central Park neighborhood of Spokane Valley, most of the time allows me to do just that; however not always.
I sometimes wake up hearing the faint sound of a train whistling in the distance. On a winter morning, I hear my neighbor, Bobbie, an airline stewardess who volunteers her time scraping the snow and ice off the sidewalk to maintain her figure. In the spring, summer and fall I hear a riding lawn mower that the maintenance crew uses to keep the landscape in shape so property values don’t plummet. Once in a while, I can even hear a car passing by, although it seems infrequent; however, I do hear the garbage truck emptying the nearby dumpster twice a week.
But, I didn’t hear the meth addicts who broke into my car one night at two o’clock in the morning. My neighbor’s blue Toyota Camry remained untouched, but the thief had a master key to my silver Honda Accord. I felt suspicious the next day when I found the driver’s side door unlocked. I’m too reliable not to pay attention to a detail like that.
He yanked out my car radio and MP3 player. I complained to the police, but they pronounced it untraceable for it had no serial number. I felt violated and scared. Although I experienced a high degree of safety in the condos (security normally patrols Central Park), I quit walking alone down the street for exercise to the nearby park because I couldn’t tell who might be lurking inside one of the dilapidated homes on the outskirts watching me.
After the second time someone broke into my car, I called the police again. Nothing went missing, but the contents of my jockey box were strewn out over the front seat. The police first asked if the thief took the registration. Seems he had a scam going.
Although we rarely spoke, Mr. Zimmerman, a tall, stout, 65ish neighbor, said he had a daughter who also owned a Honda Accord which had been broken into. “One week they confiscated the registration and two weeks later they came back and stole the car.” After I heard that, I bought a $500 car alarm.
I did have other problems waking up at night. Normally I go to bed about 9:30 p.m. and read till I fall asleep at 10:30. Just when I drifted off to sleep, I heard Mr. Zimmerman and his girlfriend enter his place at 11:30 p.m. and start arguing loudly behind the adjoining bedroom wall. I never hear my other neighbors, only Mr. Zimmerman.
An hour later when they didn’t stop I pounded on the wall several times to silence them, but they didn’t quit. I’ve never seen her and don’t recall his first name and, therefore, couldn’t find a listing in the phone book or get a number from information so I could call and complain about the noise. I knew from another neighbor that he spends the week in nearby Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and only uses his Spokane Valley condo on the weekends. Saturday nights didn’t bother me too much because I could sleep in the next day, but Sunday nights created a problem.
I got up, got a glass of water, took a sleeping pill and used the restroom. When I returned, they continued to argue. I knew he had two bedrooms and I thought if he’d use the other bedroom I wouldn’t be able to hear him. I couldn’t hear what they were arguing about, only loud vehement voices coming from behind the bedroom wall. Then at 2:30 a.m. things settled down. I thanked God. I needed to get up early the next day to go to work.
The next sound I heard were loud grunting noises and then what appeared to be Mr. Zimmerman having a screaming orgasm. I didn’t like listening to it. It prompted me to think of an orgy. I never liked hearing other people having sex. It makes me wince.
Normally we make contact about three times a year, but I did encounter him the next morning, getting into his car. I couldn’t look him in the eye.
“Good morning, Mr. Zimmerman.”
I couldn’t bring myself to say anything more. I wanted to say that maybe it got a little too loud last night, but I was too embarrassed to speak up and he shut his car door quickly and drove off.
Although I couldn’t muster up the courage to tell him what I felt, I complained to the Condo Association and they distributed literature asking residents to be quiet after 11:00 p.m. It did no good. The noise went on for several weeks. I kept banging on the wall to no avail. The thought of buying him out to get some peace and quiet crossed my mind.
Finally, the next week I lay in bed plotting my revenge. Since I had lost sleep, I wanted him to do the same. I set my alarm for five Monday morning and got up when it went off and turned on the TV in my bedroom full blast. I left it on when I showered and blew-dry my hair and even when I went to the kitchen for coffee and breakfast. I finally turned it off when I left for work at eight.
After a couple tries, he got the message. No more arguments late Sunday nights. Actually, I think Mr. Zimmerman found a new girlfriend. Either that, or he has since changed bedrooms because I only hear muffled voices and no sex romps.
That makes me smile to myself because it’s quiet again.