Our Strange Neighbours
Voices drifted through my head at sporadic intervals as I lay there in a semi-state of consciousness. Mike nudged me and I woke up from our afternoon nap to learn that the voices were real. Listen he whispered as we both sat up on our elbows and strained to hear the booming male voice coming from upstairs, periodically interrupted by a female voice. It was hard to decipher what they were saying but the aggression in the man's voice was apparent as he became louder and louder. We looked at each other puzzled and I instinctively went to the front door, opened it and poked my head around the stairs to try and hear better. This is a much better place to stand I thought to myself as the conversation was much clearer although occasionally drowned out by the passing traffic. Mike came to the door and urged me back inside but I couldn't pull myself away - he eventually gave in and joined me at the door. Snippets of conversation drifted down the stairs....
'I thought we agreed to be honest with each other,' said the man.
Sounds of unfathomable protest from the girl - apparently her name was Ania, she sounded Eastern European.
Occasional words drifted through.... ashtray......Isabella
'Of all the places to go to........there are one hundred and one bars and you had to go to that one,' he shouted. The girl protested, but was interrupted. I wanted to hear her side of the story but he wouldn't let her speak.
I thought about the terrible Europap music that we'd had to put up over the last couple of weeks - one evening it was so loud that Mike went upstairs to ask them to turn it down but they didn't come to the door. It happened again and this time the door opened slowly with a girl cowering behind it.
'I only wanted to give you my number.' At last! a full sentence from Ania.
'Don't lie to me,' he screamed. 'I thought we agreed to be honest'. Other incomprehensible words, then 'my girlfiend found out'.
I turned round to find that Mike had gone back inside. Must have had enough I thought to myself, so I went back in to find him standing on the bed listening through the ceiling. This was too good to miss. I went back outside.
'George knows,' he said.
'GOD I HATE GREEKS,' she shouted.
'Don't be like that,' the man said gently. I found the softness in his voice disturbing and strangely odd and wandered if the good cop bad cop was something he was doing on purpose or if he was mentally disturbed. I pictured a tall, tanned, slighly balding man in his early thirties with a crazed expression on his face not too dissimilar to Jack Nicholson's in The Shining. I imagined Ania, a blonde fragile teenager, scared, innocent, helpless.
After twenty minutes we decided to call it a day and closed the door. Ten minutes later we heard loud noises again, this time they were not voices but other sounds - crashing, running, jumping. Was he hitting her? Was she running away?
At around midnight as we were getting ready for bed, we heard more voices through the ceiling. This time it was singing. We didn't have to strain to listen to his voice this time as it was so clear he might as well have been in the room with us. It sounded like he was singing in Turkish or Arabic - it sounded haunting, almost demented.
I've been mulling it over in my mind ever since and have failed to reach a conclusion. One thing I am certain of though - we won't be knocking on their door again in a hurry to ask them to turn their music down.