There definitely are not any reasons for me to be awake right now, was the first thought to pop into my head at four-thirty this morning, when i found myself awake two and a half hours shy of my clock’s scheduled alarming. After i fully resigned myself to the reality that, yes, i was no longer within the depths of my dreams, my second thought was: What the fuck is making that godawful noise?
Obviously, the noise was not one that i could immediately recognize — not car alarm, nor overloud stereo, nor cat in heat. Actually, it sounded something like the first and the third intertwined and broadcast over the second, but that piece of information did not leave me any closer to knowing what it was. In case you haven’t already gathered, it was not a pleasant sound.
As i rose to a fuller level of consciousness, i initiated an internal round of twenty-questions to attempt to the identify the noise’s source. Where was it coming from? It was not interior to my room. It was not coming from inside of the rest of the house. It was not coming through the wall that i share with our neighbors. It was definitely from outside. It was coming from out back, maybe from the northern side of my block. It was coming at slightly irregular intervals, but with no discernible variations: squw-aw-aw-ah-ack … … … squw-aw-aw-ah-ack … … squw-aw-aw-ah-ack … et cetera.
What was making the noise? Certainly not a naturally occurring phenomenon. Probably not electronic, given the interval length. Could it be animal? Hmm. Would have to be vocal in nature. Not barking, not yowling, not chirping …
Just shy of my twentieth question, i ventured an internal guess that the sound must be that of a rooster who had found himself running slightly ahead of the sunrise schedule. However, i failed to locate any such creature upon poking my head out of the window, and was hesitant to climb out onto my spring-board-of-death/roof in my post-unconscious state. Lacking any other option short of throwing things out of my window, i closed it and retreated to my bed. Whatever it was, it couldn’t possible go on like that for much longer; i could tune it out.
I could not tune it out, and it would not stop. It was awful and piercing, pausing just long enough to raise my hopes that it might be over and then dashing them with another resounding squw-aw-aw-ah-ack. Soon i found myself grinding one ear into the sheets and capping the other with a pillow, altogether enveloped by my heavy blanket. Still, it came. And came. And so forth.
After a short while i began to entertain the idea that if i was forced to lay awake much longer i might get out of bed, dress in several layers of dark clothing, wrap a towel around my face and neck in a burqa-like fashion, go outside and around to the back of my apartment, scale some fences, and confront my nemesis/rooster. Clearly if i could not shake it from its activity i would be force snap the damn thing’s neck. Sleepless, i convinced myself that i would be able to do it. After all, it wasn’t as if i was a vegetarian because i like animals especially much. And the owner ought not to even have it in the city, let alone give it free vocal reign of the pre-dawn hours. It couldn’t possibly be hard to break a rooster’s neck; the trick would just be to catch it. And so forth.
I have no recollection of the noise ever ending, but after nearly an hour of imagining myself as a member of an elite ninja poultry-extermination squad i finally fell back into sleep. When i awoke (at the expected time) i could detect no trace of the noise and, upon reflection, decided that it could not have possibly been a rooster. A rooster? Just the delirium of being woken from deep R.E.M.-sleep talking. Probably some weird foreign car’s alarm. Anyhow, i had to get dressed and be on the way to my second day of work.
A short time later i was outside — halfway down my block, in fact — when i spotted an vaguely familiar neighbor leaving her house. I resolved not to involve her in my ruminations, but as she joined me on the sidewalk my curiosity got the best of me. I blurted: “Can i ask you something very peculiar?” She regarded me skeptically, but apparently decided from the look of my shirt and tie that i could no no worse harm than try to bum a cigarette. She made no move to break stride or reply, so i continued: “Did you hear anything odd last night… around four thirty in the morning?”
Another skeptical look. Today is, i realized, April Fools. She let my question hang for a moment and then wryly (though not icily) replied, “Like what?”
My mouth opened (certainly not a rooster, that’s for sure) and closed (nevermind) and opened again and, seemingly of its own volition, said “Perhaps a, erm, a rooster,” and, emboldened by her lack of immediate ridicule, then amended, “or some other animal that regularly greets the dawn of a new day with a terribly piercing squw-aw-aw-ah-ack sound.” (The sound came out perfectly … as if i had spent all night rehearsing it rather than being tortured by it. I hadn’t spent the whole night rehearsing it, had i? No, i had heard it … heard the rooster/ /foreign-car-alarm /unidentified-squw-aw-aw-ah-acking-object. Right… right?)
Her gaze suddenly renounced its skepticism, leaving a warmly-smiling face in its place. (Her rooster, perhaps?) Then: “Probably just one of the neighbors who’s involved in cock-fighting.” She sounded unconcerned; nonchalant, even. “I’m Dawn, by the way.”
Oh. Sure. One of those. “Oh. Sure. One of those.” I sounded considerably less unconcerned than she did; decidedly chalant, if you will. I quickly attempted to save face in the light of my seemingly puzzled reception of her very succinct answer by adding, “Right… right? (very smooth… for a jackass.) I’m Peter.”
After my incredibly comeback, Dawn and I carried on a sparkling conversation all the way to our bus stop, rooster-free save for her comment that “I’ll hear something more peculiar than that from one of my clients today, that’s for sure.” Which, i suppose, makes perfect sense if you are in the know about the neighborhood cock-fighting ring — which Dawn is. And, if you counsel weird people for a living, which Dawn does.
In comparison, my second day of work seemed entirely normal. Which definitely wasn’t the case…