He wakes always before the dawn yet never tries to embrace it. He keeps his home dark, shutters closed, blinds drawn, it’s a bit musky even. On rare summer days flickers of light find their way in through the cracks. He wakes up early yet doesn’t move. Instead he listens for the first sound of life with in the building.
He lives in a 11 story building on the fourth floor in a up and coming area. His mother, God rest her soul lived on the third floor. He use to check on her at time regardless if her caregiver was running late or not , it was his mother, he missed her. He had retired ten years ago and yet he still woke up before the dawn. He would lay there with no where to go , at least in his opinion.
Once he heard the first patter of feet from the floor above he would begin his grumble and rants of porca miseria . His voice was quite deep, attention grabbing even, yet he barely spoke about anything substantial. At times , he could be heard by the couple upstairs cursing about random things they did like mop the floor to breathing. He had sonic ears they thought.
Soon there was the sound of the dog’s paws tapping on the floor above , probably following its owner around the house. Shortly after began the cry of a baby, not loud just enough to get it’s mothers attention. He wondered if it was a boy or a girl then thought who cares it’s noisy. He hated the sounds of the living -even his own.
He was a Roman, in Rome yet he had no family. He was a product of a one child household, with limited cousins and now ,in some ways, he was an orphan on pension , who grumbled about everything. He didn’t do much with his freedom, he felt he was too old to go anywhere. ZZZRRRRRRR went the blender, the family upstairs is having breakfast, he could hear the sounds of an active kitchen. He could picture them , at the table , together.
He wondered if he had ever married or had a girlfriend would life be okay. She would bring me a caffè in bed, he thought, one less activity for me to do . Then he thought about all the noise she would make all the time, the activities she would want to do, the time he would have to spend being with another and realised he was better off alone.
After a few minutes he could hear the buses passing on the street below and cars making their way to and fro- he got ready for the day. He put on the outfit he had been wearing for most of the month ; black pants , white undershirt, long shelve grey shirt with a collar, his jacket and his cap. It was still clean, he barely did anything to cause a sweat. Even in the heat of summer he wore a jacket -still no sweat.
He was off to begin his day. As he waited for the elevator he wondered ,why does the elevator have to make noise. He sees the family walking down the stairs , “Buon Giorno,” they say, he would responded back just a bit under his breathe. No one really holds conversation with me , he thought.
In fact no one did. All he ever did was explain how dark and dismal the world was. He complained about his first world problem of being tired. When people recommended spending time by the sea or going on a holiday he rebuffed them. He would explain how traumatic it would turn out by the sea or on a holiday- to empathise his plight he was only lacking violins in the background.
Once downstairs he spoke bit to the doorman, a fella around his age yet still working, still traveling and indulging in hobbies. The doorman was also an odd man, had a hot and cold personality as if he menstruated daily ( he’s a story for another day) . Once out the building into the hustle and bustle , he turned right and walked less than 10 meters (32 steps) to the bar, where he would get his breakfast of a cornetto and second caffè and would spend his entire day talking with the other elderly guys until lunch time about the crisis in Italy.
After lunch he would return to the bar and have a drink , begin again a discussion about the same subject that they have been discussing for the past 10 years ;the crisis. As the night engulfs the day he would head back upstairs. Enter his home, turn on the light in the corridor and sigh. He had a tough day.
He makes his supper , turns on the TV yet it watches him. Instead, he listens to the noises upstairs. The sound of the dog following his owner , the shuffle of feet , the faint sound of voices, laughter, the cry of a baby, the sound of the elevator being called to another floor, the noise of the street as the night life begins, the creaks of the day settling in for the night. He listens, he hates it. Yet without it he is alone.