Martin had a fitful night’s sleep when he heard that a new tenant had moved into the flat next to his. There was no noise coming from the tenant’s flat as yet, which was somewhat reassuring. He locked his door and went to the local cafe, which is something he did every afternoon. It was an end of terrace house and as he turned the gable end sharply he bumped into a man who was standing with his back to the wall. He was a huge man wearing a T shirt and shorts and flip flops even though it was near winter. He was smoking a cigarette, taking several puffs at a time. Martin apologised for bumping into him and before he could stop himself he asked if he was the new tenant? The man nodded.

– I’m sure you’ll like it here, it’s very quiet.

Martin thought he should get that in straight away.

– Don’t like noise, the man said.

– The last tenant in your flat was a nightmare. I’m sure it damaged my health; partying every night until all hours!

The man didn’t say much. Indeed it wasn’t much of a conversation. Martin decided to continue on his way to the cafe.

– No doubt I’ll bump into you again, he tittered.

– I spent ten years in jail, in solitary, so I’m not much good at talking, the man said.

Martin was flummoxed! He could think of nothing to say.

– Do you dream, the man asked?

– I don’t think so. I don’t remember them if I do.

– I have enough dreams to fill two rooms! You snore!• Do I? Does it disturb you?

– Yes!

– Oh, I’m awful sorry. I’ll have to do something about it.

– Get a ring!

– Oh, yes. One of those brass rings. I’ve seen them advertised.

– I like silence.

The man flicked his cigarette butt onto the road sparking among several others and turned to go back into the house.

– Don’t forget the ring!

Martin walked on. He, the noise detector, was now the noise maker! He felt sick.

he awoke from a nightmare
nobody was there –
just the peeping moon

Gerry McDonnell


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