Alleyway Ambiance

Written by Mary Schrott

Creative Commons
Creative Commons

One of my favorite places to be is lying down on my bed, in my towel, after I take a shower. “Towel time,” which I’ve declared a daily ritual, provides me with the 10 minutes of meditation needed before finishing my day in clean skin. It’s a state of bliss where blankets feel softer against my warm dewy skin and my mind has a moment to rest.

On a recent Thursday evening, just before 8 p.m. as the sun gingerly tittered on the Ohio horizon, I stepped out of the shower and headed up to my bedroom filled with yellow light. Carefully, I kicked my slippers off and hopped onto my bed — maintaining the burrito-like wrap of my towel.

As I reclined into my towel time, flipping my damp hair over the back of my pillow, I heard a loud banging coming from outside.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

“I want my blow!” the loud voice roared.

I rolled my eyes, knowing exactly where this exchange was taking place.

I live in an alleyway off-campus in a small house surrounded by other small houses and a row of apartments. The walls of my home are glorified drywall and the windows act more like contact lenses than glasses. Every Thursday through Saturday our alley becomes a route to Mecca as party-goers cut through side streets making the trek Uptown.

This particular conversation, however, was coming from my neighbors who I’ve gotten to know well just by listening to their outside conversations.

The banging for blow continued until eventually I heard the click and squeak of a door being opened and it stopped.

I continued my towel time for eight more minutes.

At 2:09 a.m. Friday morning, after an evening of “a little homework, a little Netflix” I found myself back in my small twin bed. My towel had been replaced by pajamas and my hair had dried, not needing to be elevated above my pillows.

Restless, I turned on my side to look at my bedroom window, which faces my neighbor’s apartments. Though I’ve installed a blackout window curtain, the glow from the street lights illuminated the thick teal fabric and cast diluted shadows on my walls.

I hear the familiar click and squeak of a door opening and voices began to crescendo in the alley.

2:10 a.m.

“Hey should I drive home?”

“Dude have you had more than one beer?”

Mumbling grunts, laughs and screams answer.

“Dude how many fingers am I holding up?”

“Three.”

“Shit how did you see that from there?”

The pack of voices continued to play and I caught bits and pieces of a conversation about how sick of a mattress someone has for the driver to crash on followed by the description of a magical carpet.

“You can go home if you text me when you get home.”

A banter erupts.

“Dude I will text you as soon as I get home. No, no! I will text you before I even walk through my door.”

“If he doesn’t text in 20 minutes,” a new voice chimed, “then we know he’s dead.”

I grimace.

“Nothing worse than driving drunk and dying!”

2:15 a.m.

A car engine starts and lights shift through my bedroom window, stumbling across the ceiling.

2:16 a.m.

Sirens wail in the distance.

2:20 a.m.

A Lil Wayne song starts blaring.

“Dude grab Jeff’s grinder.”

2:22 a.m.

The music stopped and it’s silent. The familiar click and squeak of a door opening is heard and voices emerged.

Two boys are in conversation about life, school and how hard it can be.

“I’m proud of you,” one tells the other.

I hear glass shattering and know that they are probably trying to throw empty beer bottles into the dumpster on the other side of the alley.

I roll onto my other side, facing away from noise.

“Shut up you’re my best friend.”

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