Continuing from the dream…
The water doesn’t come rushing in. My anguished, gasping breath draws air. My eyes focus and the black and red blur resolves itself into a room. A bedroom. Familiar. Tiny. Mine.
I’m drenched, but only with sweat. The clothes that were dragging at me are my sheets, a Gordian tangle around my arms and legs. It takes me a bit to extract myself, which gives my heart some time to stop racing, my lungs to stop aching. My throat is still raw and burning, and I can still hear a pounding sound…
I grab a bathrobe and shrug into it on the way to my apartment door.
Opening it stops the knocking and reveals the stout, pajama’d figure of Mr. Andersen. Well, mostly pajama’d. Instead of a pajama top he’s wearing a yellowed relic that was once a T-shirt. A multitude of holes reveal swathes of wiry black and tarnished silver hairs on his chest and shoulders. In color and texture these match the twin tufts sprouting from each nostril, as well as the small nest of fuzz protruding from his ears. The hair on his head, what there is of it, has been mercilessly dyed black. The hall light gleams off of his bald spot as he glares at me, yet oddly enough, after dreaming of drowning, I can revel in the waft of stale cigar smoke, cheap beer and sweat that surrounds him like the halo of some disreputable saint.
“Good morning, Mr. Andersen.”
“Fuck good morning! I oughtta call the cops!”
“Yeah, I’m sorry, I had…”
“Yellin’ like that in the middle of the night! How’s a guy supposed to sleep?”
“Look, I’m really sorry. I had another nightmare…”
“Fuck sorry! And fuck your nightmares too! Do you know what time it is? Three in the morning, you shit! I’ve gotta get to work by eight…”
“Did you say three AM?”
Mr Anderson’s bloodshot eyes blink slowly. Standing in the hall, working up his anger had given him time to mentally rehearse exactly what he was going to say to me, and this was not a question he had anticipated. I can almost hear the gears grinding as it takes him a few seconds to find his place in his mental script. His tufted eyebrows dip from angry to puzzled, as he tries to recall exactly what he had said, but then his face clears and returns to his default angry state. “Yeah! Three in the morning! And I’ve gotta get to work…”
A quick glance at the glowing green numbers on the front of the VCR in my living room confirms that it is seven minutes to three. “Crap!”
Another unexpected turn. Mr. Anderson blinks again and pauses. His train of thought has now completely jumped the rails, and before he can get it back on track, his mouth chimes in with a “Huh?”
“I’m truly very sorry about the noise, and I’ll try to make it up to you sometime Mr. Anderson, but I’ve really got to go right now.”
Mr. Anderson’s eyes repeat their blink and he echoes his previous “Huh?”
“I’ve got about six minutes to showered, dressed and get to the studio. Thanks, sorry, bye, gotta go…” As Mr. Anderson starts in on yet another slow-motion blink, and in the middle of yet another repetition of the word, “Huh?” I shut the door.