A Night At The Opera

Friday the 13th is my favorite holiday. I don’t mean in the cult classic sense, as in burning hours of my finite life with a coterie of horror buffs who watch all 27 Friday the 13th films [edited, with commercial interruptions] on the USA network. I adore the number thirteen and I have always liked Fridays, so I decided a long time ago to adopt the sparsely recurring holiday as my own. Thankfully, it has not yet become mainstream and, as a result, fallen peril to the brilliant minds of advertising whores responsible for bringing things like evil bunnies to the masses [oh, pun] in April.

This Friday the 13th marks the tail end of my first week as a full-time writer.

Let me halt your wandering mind by pointing out that this endeavor is not something that is sponsored by an ebullient agent reaching toward my writing with the grabby hands of a five-year-old wrangling candy with his grubby paw at the checkout line from a germ-laden grocery cart. This endeavor, this new role of mine, is solely self-sponsored. It’s terrifying, but has to be done.

Earlier in the week, I managed to busy myself by running useless errands to prepare for the long and lonely days at home. I baked homemade granola and washed a landfill portion of colors, whites, various sheets and towels. I peered through streaked glass into a gloomy world outside where torrential rain filled clear, empty buckets on the back patio that once held orange sherbet ice cream. I poked an intricately woven spider web very delicately with my finger and watched a tiny brown creature scurry over with swagger. I could tell he intended to wrap my calloused index finger in a silken sleeping bag of death. Alas, I did not let the furry creature devour my fingertip because I knew that I would eventually need it to dance atop the white keys of my silvery keyboard.

I have gradually managed to plant myself firmly in the corner of an unused room that I have claimed as my writing space. I started out by checking my email purely out of habit. However, my will is strong and I coerced myself into letting go of my old routine(s). As I sat waiting for my fingers to do something other than tap rhythmically on the tempered glass keyboard tray that hovers just above my crotch, I discovered that my retired opera singer of a neighbor is not as retired as I wish she was.

On Monday, I heard her belt out a high-pitched bellow with enough vibrato to wiggle a mound of frosty red Jell-O off a China plate. It was horrifying and I wasn’t sure at first whether or not the voice was real or something I made up in my head as a distraction.

On Tuesday, the cry of the banshee returned. This time she added a few dampened piano keystrokes to accompany the howl summoned from deep within the confines of her wasp nest core. There was no escape. As wobbly objects began to topple throughout the room, things like polished, faceless trinkets and morose gargoyles, I was convinced this voice was no fabrication of my childlike mind.

As the week has progressed, so has the frequency of her haunting wail. She now sings along with recordings of entire opera performances. Too, her piano playing has become increasingly pervasive. That is understandable considering my writing space is one paper-thin wall away from this woman who I imagine is dressed in a black lacy ball gown that she fills like a water balloon threatening to burst if handled improperly. I envision her with a dollop of creamy makeup that gives her cheeks a tan glow, sort of like the contrast between a heap of honey flavored Greek yogurt and the red bowl it is flung into. A thick layer of mascara that could rival the darkest cave walls ever explored douses her eyes, in my mind. Based on the tightly wound explosive bursts of air emitted from this woman’s Kevlar enforced lungs, I have surmised that she leverages a girdle that must expand like a frog’s throat and contract to a BDSM grade clamp. The anti-dulcet roar this woman has warmed up to in preparation for what I can only imagine will be shared at Sunday mass, is downright venomous. Living next to this woman is as pleasant as being sprayed by a powerful fire hose of musical Italian drama on your naked chest.

Like a 14-year-old boy who dreams of 2 minutes of privacy to peruse the not so well hidden pages of vintage Playboys that live under the sink in the single bathroom of a 5 person home, I too need quiet and privacy. I cannot write when there are noises present. If the foundation of the old home I live in creaks ever so subtly as the temperature fluctuates, it’s enough to pull me from my fictional reverie and smack me around like the fat end of a flyswatter against the walls of stark reality. This woman, this devout servant to Stravinsky’s eternal soul, has robbed me of my silence.

Then, like a pinhole of light that shines through the coffin you’ve been buried alive in for days, I hear my opera singing neighbor’s mechanical garage door come alive. It sounds like a steam engine firing up for a departure from Grand Central Station. In this, I encounter hope for the silence that will surely ensue.

And it does, momentarily, until the persistent kamikaze robin crashes into the window with a dull thud. But that is another story…

© Benjamin Green

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