“Michael Jackson at 3 a.m? I love this song but I’m still going to kill them.” He covers his nakedness with a towel in furious, jerky movements and pulls the curtain aside. His nose bumps the window as he looks down into the neighbours courtyard.
“Just call noise control.” I sit up, pulling the blankets around my shoulders. “Don’t go over there. They could be meth heads.”
“Meth heads who listen to Michael Jackson?”
“You never know.”
He rubs his breath fog from the window and mutters “I’m going to kill them.”
The song ends and, for a moment, there is the deep silence of 3 a.m. He takes the opportunity and throws the window open. “It’s 3 a.m, you fuckers.”
His voice rings out into the night.
There is a beat of awareness everyone can feel; me, him, the neighbours drinking with friends in their courtyard. It is the sudden knowledge there are real people who live…just over there.
At the end of each day, we park our cars in the spaces we have silently negotiated as ours and scuttle, afraid we might see or be seen, into our homes. We hear the daily noises of living; a too loud television, a crying child, a vacuum cleaner but we don’t acknowledge them. Collectively, we have mastered the middle distance stare and the ability to not notice lacy underwear on the washing line.
We do not look from our windows into theirs, for fear of seeing an intimacy which isn’t ours.
In this quiet moment at 3 a.m, between them living and us sleeping, we realise we impact on each other.
The music doesn’t start again.
“If only we had a lawn so I could mow it at sunrise.” He gets back into bed, his skin cold against mine. He is asleep in an instant.
The quiet slowly fills up with voices and laughter from next door and his soft snoring from next to me. Words float, disembodied, into the room.
I love you.
Car doors slam and then the car squeals away. He grunts “Good riddance” into my hair.
I let him curl around me, and am grateful we no longer need to throw ourselves, laden with alcohol and fuelled by music, at the loneliness of 3 a.m.