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The Knocking Neighbor...

Posted on December 30, 2010 at 11:07 AM

     Getting back to being 'writerly' for just a moment here.  The thought occurred to me recently: Why do I waste my time this way?  Why write? Yes, of course the simplest answer is because I have to, or I need to, but the root of that is for the simple reason that an entire town's worth of characters live in my head. (Yes, I know, that doesn't surprise most of you, heh.)

    They're not all originals either.  Some are.  Some citizens of my head are my own inventions, but not most.  Most of them are the product of living in so many places, and never turning down an adventure.  Most of these characters are real people who I've known, however briefly.  It just happens I attract strange people.  No one ever comes up to me and asks for the time.  No, the only strangers who come up to me usually want to know if I believe in aliens, have one dollar and twenty-seven cents, or if they can get a ride to Chicago. (Yes, yes and Hell YES!"(no... >sigh< yes.))

     So in the interest of bettering my work, I've decided to try to write something everyday. I know very well I won't be able to force myself to work on the MS for every one of the 365 days, so I think a good exercise might be choosing a character from the random character files, and writing something about them.  Some of them I'll share on the blog, some will go in the drawer.  My first character is one of the real ones...

   My junior year of college, I had, for the first and only time, my own apartment.  The Oakridge complex was built in the early seventies and had never been renovated.  That meant yellow appliances, dark wood, and a funky gypsy-looking chandelier.  The complex was square and four stories high, each of the apartment doors facing an open central courtyard, which no one ever used. It was quiet.  Except for my neighbor.

   He didn't go to college at MSU like everyone else.  He was a musician and I never really saw him because he kept odd hours... but I heard him all the time.  Always through the wall.  My bedroom/living area shared a wall with what must have been his freaking recording studio. Late at night, I could hear something played, I'm guessing 'recorded', and then played back over and over.  Some of it was kind of hip-hop, some of it was kind of rock.  Guitar, drums (drum machine?), keyboard - he had a lot of equipment over there.  Most of the time I ignored it.  I usually fell asleep with the TV on anyway, so the noise didn't bother me.  Once in ahile, when I was studying usually, I'd tap lightly on the wall. He would always turn it down.

     One night it was silent next door.  It was late, and I was laying on my bed, on my stomach, studying.  I was absorbed in some kind of chemistry problem, and didn't notice that I was swinging a foot so that it bumped against the wall continously.  It was a while before I even noticed that, next door, someone began tapping back, every time my foot hit the wall.  I stopped.  So did they.  I tapped twice more. They tapped twice.  Then, next-door tapped out a simple rythmn.  I tapped it back.  That was it for that night.

     But the next night, he did it again - tapping a rythmn on the wall at like two in the morning while I was laying in bed staring at the ceiling.  I raised a hand to the wall, and tapped it back.  It just became this wierd thing we'd do. At odd hours, could be two in the afternoon or five in the morning, one or the other of us would tap, and if they other side was there, they'd tap back.

     Then one night he tapped three times - urgently- by this I mean staccato taps.  I tapped back and then heard nothing.  Complete silence...and then... he began to play the Pixies song, Where is My Mind? on his guitar.  How do I explain how flattering and odd that is?  If I had to pick, I'd say it's my favorite song, and my favorite band.  That means he had to be listening, and not just listening, but really paying attention.  It's not like I played it over and over again every day.   But I probably listened to the Pixies more than other bands, and I know that I can reallllly get into it when I'm singing along with Where is My Mind, soooo.....

     And if there was ever a time, for me to go outside, knock on his door, and introduce myself... that would have been it.  But I didn't.  I had a boyfriend.  Tapping on the wall wasn't anywhere near that line you're not supposed to cross.  Going next door after his performance would have been.

   Besides, it was awkward without a wall between us.  I did run into him a few times.  Sometimes I'd catch him up in the middle of the day, standing outside his apartment with another dude having a smoke. He'd grin or wink usually.  Sometimes he's say, "Hi Kris".  I never did introduce myself.  Testiment to how thin the walls were, because I knew his name as well.  One time he came outside while I was unlocking my door and sheepishly handed me a cd without a case.

   "It's my demo" he explained, unecessarily.

   "Tee-hee" -this from me.

   And that's really all there is, besides this one time where I invited him to a kegger at my aparment, and he showed up with an entire posse of guys completely wasted, but that's another story.

    I think he's a stand-out citizen in Kristopia.  He'd make for a good romantic involvement for a female protagonist somewhere, or maybe he's be the accident, I don't know.  He's on a backburner for right now, but I'll get to him.

Categories: From the Random Character Files..., Writing

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