Friday, May 6, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Shameless

They had to be newlyweds or serial killers. Cheryl preferred them to be newlyweds, two kids who had never experienced the carnal and found it extremely to their liking. When they finished, she'd knock and ask them to please move the bed six inches away from the wall. She couldn’t nap with all that unnecessary shared thumping on her bedroom wall.

An hour of unnecessary shared thumping later, she wondered if it was a couple at all. Perhaps there was a washing machine up against that wall, one that squeaked like two pairs of panting lungs. She turned up her surround sound and attempted to lose herself in a blockbuster movie of swords and stubbled men.

Two hours of unnecessary shared thumping later, she questioned how many washing machines had such a long cycle. What kind of stains would require that kind of intensity?

Three hours of unnecessary shared thumping later, Cheryl had a mindful of stains that might require that intensity. She clutched her aching back and banged on the wall with a broom. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t seem to hear.

She banged on their door. The bedsprings were audible from the hallway. They didn’t cease. The next door down opened and wrinkled Mr. Parkins squinted out, glaring like he didn’t want her to ruin this stereophonic delight for him. Mr. Parkins was a widower, and the only one who buzzed her up when she forgot her keys.

She hung her keys on one of the coat hooks. They bounced to her new neighbors’ tempo. Cheryl stared until she considered calling Mike. See what he was up to tonight.

Or who he was up to. No, she wouldn’t give in to that son of a bitch. He owed her the apology. Besides, her back was killing her. She rubbed at the pinched nerves.

Halfway into The Two Towers, Cheryl wondered if they weren’t escapees from a nymphomania clinic. Around when Gimli said to toss him but not to tell “the elf,” she thought better of it. No, given how many hours it had been, she doubted they could have mustered the will to run this far before crumpling to the grass and rutting.

Around when Ian McKellen saved the day, there was a minor miracle. She realized she was more annoyed at the idea of the inconsiderate lovers than the noise. In fact, it fit very nicely into the beats of the soundtrack. It was as good as white noise.

So she did something stupid. Something Mike would have called stupid, but he was the sort to get caught in the dish room with a waitress. Bracing her back for the pain, she pushed her bedposts flush against the drywall. It commenced trepidation immediately. The mattress felt like a hundred vibrating fingers under her aching spine.

It was the best sleep of her adult life, and the next morning her neighbors were whisper-quiet. Either that or she’d built up a tolerance.


  1. Unfortunately I can't think of anything to say that wouldn't sound like a dirty joke. hehe

  2. Talk about making the best of a situation. :)

  3. Ha haa this was funny. This line made me laugh out loud, "Cheryl wondered if they weren’t escapees from a nymphomania clinic. "

    Talk about an innovative lady! Massage always gives you a good night sleep. ;)

    (I'm only saying that because I'm a retired Remedial Massage Therapist - just to keep the books straight :D )

  4. It's been a while, Mr Wiswell; and if I may say, I think your writing is better.

    The first line, "They had to be newlyweds or serial killers." is perfect. Come what may, you have to finish a flash fiction piece that starts with that line.

    As your de facto editor, I feel a need to point out the ever-so-minor problem with, "No, she wouldn’t give into that son of a bitch." That is, "in to", not "into".

    Very funny, by the way. Very funny.

  5. You had me right from that opening line, sir...I would note the lines I liked best, but it would be nearly as long as the story itself. Clever and funny.

  6. I can't help but think that, even with liberal application of lubricant, six hours would leave blisters. Using the Two Towers to time the events was a clever bit. Well done.

  7. Her solution was just to effect a proxy massage right? Since you had earlier mentioned the vibrations of washing machines...

    Marc Nash

  8. T.S., I think dirty joke comments are appropriate this week. Have at me. I deserve it. If they get too bad I'll push my bed up against the inbox.

    Danni, you read early this week! Welcome, thank you, and glad you enjoyed it.

    Helen, so you've set up a defense for me against any future complaints about her solution. Massage helps you sleep, so says an expert!

    Bernard, welcome back! I wondered if you'd sunken into the seas. And I appreciate you catching my errors. "give in to" looks so odd, but you're correct. "give in" is the idiom, so adhering "in" to "to" mucks it up a bit.

    Alan, it is an unusual opening line. I tried to keep that oddity up for the whole piece - guess it worked on you?

    Tony, best to put on Return of the King and not imagine blisters. I'm going to remain mum as to whether any of my neighbors ever kept it up this long.

    Mr. Marc, yes sir, Cheryl's solution was to turn the shaking wall into a power supply for a vibrating bed. Did that come across too unclear for you?

  9. A wonderful first line. It planted a seed in my mind that perhaps they wern't newlyweds and I should be on the lookout for a serial killer. That first line along would have been enough to pull me through, but it was even better with the quality of writing.

  10. Oh to be so resourceful! Fun stuff John!

  11. I like Cheryl!! What a smart lady. I've got an annoying next door neighbour but the most I have to put up with is either her rubbish music or her really loud Skype or Facebook chimes. I'm also glad she didn't phone Mike.

  12. Michael, the first line was actually the last line I wrote. I only had a placeholder for it, and knew there would be a comparison to newlyweds of some stripe. Serial killers saved the story, I guess?

    Deanna, I dare anyone to actually try this - affording they have such enthusiastic neighbors.

    Icy, she's too good for Mike. She's got that ingenuity of the single soul. Glad you connected with her, Icy!

  13. There was no doubt I had to finish reading this from the opening line — whether it was an orgy for two or the lure for a murder, I had to know.

    Yeah, six hours straight would be some kind of record. Wouldn't mind trying to break it myself though. :-D

  14. Very clever opening paragraphs with a very "satisfying" ending.

    See what I did there. Raised a smile, good writing.

  15. Mr. FAR, give that grandson of yours another aunt? Beats being Mr. Parkins!

    IBC, yes, "happy ending" puns are warranted. I brought them on myself.

  16. I'm sure there's a joke in there about elf tossing, but I couldn't possibly comment. Great stuff. I liked the repetitive start to the story, one hour, two hours etc. And will we ever know just what was going on?

  17. A massage sounds lovely! *daydreams* ... Oh, right, your flash.
    Loved it, John, the opening line had me pinned to my chair. Interesting situation - though I have to ask: was it only a massage she liked the vibrations for that much? Or am I better off not knowing for sure? :P

  18. Well, that's one way to get a massage. LOL

  19. Talk about stamina. Funny piece. I liked how you showed the passing of time through the sections of the movie and her comparision of the noise from the movie to the noise of her neighbors.

  20. I would leave a comment telling you how much I liked this but I am too busy trying to find this apartment building.

  21. Well done, John, as usual! Clever.

  22. Cute. I like the opening which goes through acceptance, denial, questioning, and self-recrimination.

  23. I loved the line about Mr. Parkins letting her in when she forgets her keys. Any frequent reader of this blog knows you generate delightfully real characters, but that is one of those details that makes me think, "I wouldn't have come up with that if I wrote this story myself." It's so small and poignant, but fits so well into the flow of the story--a perfect detail.

    I also love the juxtaposition of his presumed lechery and neighborly kindness (or is the buzzing her in just lechery too?). I remember reading John Kricfalusi's blog a long time ago; in one article he explained that there was one golden rule he imposed on his artists: characters were never allowed to show only one emotion at a time. They couldn't have their eyes bug out in surprise without their lips also creasing in glee; no hair sticking up from fright without hands curling in anger. It was a challenge.

    Reading your work always gives me the same feeling, and challenges me in turn--your stories are never just sad or just funny; your characters are never just "nice" or just perverted. It makes them real like oatmeal. It's never so heavy-handed that I want to roll my eyes, but never makes me laugh without also forcing me to think.

  24. Clever, funny and an opening line that pulls you straight in - loved it. Great work

  25. Scribbler, dwarf tossing was a dangling bit of humor I left in there. Again, it's wide open. Positively gaping in anticipation for you.

    As far as what was going on in the other apartment - if you want to imagine it was something other than sex, go ahead. But after the detail of the washing machine needing to also sound like two sets of panting people, I couldn't throw any more obviously sexual details in anymore.

    Estrella and Sonia, everybody wants massages today. I wonder if it would attract more readers than sex. As far as whether Cheryl got more than just a massage out of the deal, that a lady never tells.

    Lara, I wanted to use Fellowship of the Ring to demarcate sooner, but felt like the gimmick would wear itself out. Glad this proportion worked for you.

    Lou, look for the WELCOME TO PARTS UNKNOWN sign, then take the second left.

    Chuck, thanks for stopping by! Glad you enjoyed it.

    Aidan and Brainhaze, glad you liked the intro so much. That paragraph was probably my favorite to write.

    Max, this is one of those comments that makes me all warm inside. Thank you for the detailed and thoughtful response to the story. I wasn't consciously trying to diversify her experience; that's just the way some of my characters form and I endeavor to stay true to them. Especially if they're nicely perverted.

  26. I'm a ittle sad to say that I've totally become this neighbor. ^_^;;;;;;;;;

  27. Magic Fingers. Very good, very funny. Peace...

  28. Vanessa, well then move the bed away from the wall. If this has to be a morality tale, so be it!

    Linda, that is the bed I had in mind for the close, yes ma'am.

  29. *lights a cigarette, inhales deeply, releases*
    The opening line grabs your attention and the film references were awesome. Great fun.
    I once lived with a couple, when one night, I woke up to hear rhythmic copulation. I was tempted to get up and play my drums to give them a beat to work to :)
    What? TMI?
    Adam B @revhappiness

  30. It makes a nice change for someone to benefit from things that go "bump" in the night.

    Shamelessly funny story John.

  31. "...and the next morning her neighbors were whisper-quiet."

    Hmmm. Ya think?

    Before I married my wife, she was living on the ground floor of a two story apartment building. She lamented that she had a neighbor like this.

    A good story, John.

  32. Adam, I may have counter-harassed some lovemakers in my day. Never enjoyed an incidental magic fingers bed. Have nailed some paintings to the wall and sung off-key.

    Steven, again. "Bump in the night?" I brought this on myself. No shame.

    Stephen, so long as they don't keep it up one incident can be problematic. That is, if they ever stop long enough in the first place for you to tell them to mind the volume.

  33. Very funny. I wish I could get some use out of the howler monkeys that live beneath me. Or at least cause a good fight so they'd take the night/afternoon/morning off. Except that would probably backfire. Make-up sex. Mind you, it's not the actual sex I object to, it's the lame porno-esque caterwauling. Your story captured that sense of intrusive irritation.

  34. I'm just thinking about your inspiration for this piece ...


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