Truth: Arabic prayer.
could please you more than the sight of your pal Chaz returning to the land
of the living?
Only the sight of your pal Chaz returning
to the land of the living with a vintage 1960s vinyl suitcase the
Exactly the piece of luggage to set the tone for a weekend of catching
up while your girlfriend jets off to her annual reunion of high-school
distance-running champions. Admittedly, you should be disconcerted
at the contents of the suitcase, given the brief interval your pal Chaz has
out of rehab,
but who are you to chide Chaz? And before long you and Chaz are deep
into a freewheeling
game of La Conquête du Monde, and he is greedily eyeing
Kamchatka, but then you both spend a creepy half hour distracted by
the sound of the radiator
gurgling, trying to decide whether it is the sound of the radiator
gurgling or the sound of Arabic prayer transmitted from an apartment
upstairs. Eerily, there
is then a knock on the door, and who is it but your neighbor from upstairs,
wearing nothing but a terry hoodie robe. You always thought of her
as a soft-spoken equestrienne
from Connecticut, but it turns out shes up for anything. After anything, the
three of you ascend to the third floor and knock on the door of the
apartment directly above yours and hers, and discover that a Syrian
family has recently
moved in. A week later your girlfriend is opening your mail and out
spills a handful of glitter, a few dozen multicolored stars, and a
for the special time.
* * *
Truth: Radiator gurgling.
Method: Throwing caution to the wind, you indulge in the brown bag of
mushrooms that the transient outside the Dairy Mart claimed to have
found along the
bike path. The mushrooms propel you into a zone of unprecedented
the first act of Othello that is marred only by the Perry Mason rerun
playing upstairs at a volume so loud you can hear Della Streets knees
make an unholy and utterly facetious wish. Eerily, an hour later it is
a thud. The television upstairs remains silent for the next 72 hours.
When you and the super let yourselves in, you find the body just where
commonly fall. You take the opportunity to discuss with the super the
buildings antiquated heating system. You have discovered that the heating
does not operate when the temperature drops below 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
is a problem
because sleeping in your Thinsulate parka for the last two nights has
given you a strong aversion to the scent of Thinsulate, which now interferes
ability to brave the cold and make the rounds of the usual suspects who
stock mind-altering substances. But the long and technical conversation
super while you wait for the police to arrive resolves to almost absolute
the question that became salient in the 72 hours of upstairs silence
the thud. You also learn that although the super goes by the name of
Jim, his real name is Seamus.
* * *
Truth: Arabic prayer.
Method: You dont answer the phone, you dont answer the phone, you dont
answer. Tommy John came down with the flu and youve taken the two sugar
for him along with your own two. You answer the phone. You arent answering
the phone because youve been fixated on the radiator and planning your
is the radiator telling you that it is time for a visit to the drainpipe
in the alley that belches stormwater in a manner so amusing that it can
be counted on
to have an audience of transported onlookers? You answer the phone and
are treated to an interrogation that, without malice, mocks your choice
like a monk.
What was your income last year? Between 25K and 50K? 50 and 75? 75 and
100? Before you can stop yourself, you hear yourself saying, At this
be here forever.
Eerily, at that moment the first bars of Le Sacre du Printemps are
played on your apartment door by that underrated and versatile instrument,
knuckles. It is your new friend Intisar from the apartment upstairs,
to challenge you to a Scrabble rematch. Intisars arrival bodes no good
(your girlfriend is on a high-altitude training retreat for the weekend).
boding is irresistible. Intisars arrival reminds you that there is a
period of evening devotion. That reminder answers the question posed
by the radiator.
The answer to the question posed by the radiator rearranges the tiles
right before your eyes into the word quawwali which cinches the rematch.
wins in a row!
And youre really on a roll, because the next thing that Intisar will
say is: weve played the game, now it is time for us to have some fun,