It was, and still is, a dark and stormy night. At around 5:30PM, I was sitting on the couch starting the first page of Simon Singh’s The Code Book when I heard a loud popping sound about a block away accompanied by all lights in the house dropping to half strength. After a minute of this surreal lighting, they went out entirely and Ann and I went into “We knew this was going to happen. Sigh. Here we go” mode and gathered up candles, flashlights, and anything else we thought we might need.
It took a lot of work to get Jack to understand that, no, there was no tv tonight and, no, it’s not scary being in candlelight, and, no, there is no tv tonight. Instead, we ate by candlelight and then went into the living room and built train tracks while listening to various reports on the storm on the radio.
Around 8:30, things got pretty calm outside and we’d started to think we’d come through the worst of it and, hey, it wasn’t so bad in the end. Then I found a reporter on some station saying that the worst was yet to come an that an intense band was due to hit the DC area around 10PM. Oh joy.
It was around this time that our next door neighbor parked his pickup truck out front shining his headlights on his house. Which, due to the close-together nature of townhomes, meant he was shining his lights into ours as well. Normally, this wouldn’t be that much of a big deal and if it did annoy me, I’d just go outside and ask him what’s up. But since (a) he’s been a complete pain to everyone in the community and has called the police on people if they have their cars even temporarily parked over the sidewalks or on the street; (b) There was a tropical storm outside which was just starting to pick up again and I wasn’t about to go outside; (c) He’d been apparently taken by the police and EMTs to the mental ward at least twice in the last few months so I wasn’t sure if he was having another breakdown (each of the others involved him sitting in his car in his driveway for long stretches of time); (d) He’d informed us after one of his recent trips that he worked for a secret government agency and his cover was blown and he therefore had to move which made me much less willing to engage him in conversation about anything; (e) He was arrested just two weeks ago for yelling at cars on the street and impersonating an officer; and (f) He’d left something beeping in his bedroom two nights ago which kept me up half the night and I was feeling vindictive, so I called the police. They were very nice and clearly treated the call as a “Yeah whatever” kind of thing until I mentioned his name. Then the officer taking the call said “Oh… we’ll send someone right over.”
Two cars arrived. Clearly, he’s on some list they have. But this was pretty innocuous. He moved his truck and they left.
The storm intensified right on schedule and we decided to not risk putting Jack to sleep in his bed because of the big tree in our back yard which we worried could fall on the house. So, we brought Jack into our bed. After something like an hour to an hour and a half of trying to get him to be quiet and go to sleep he decided that he wanted to sleep in his own bed. Since none of us were getting any sleep and all of us were cranky and since the storm starting to calm down again, we put him into his own bed and everyone went to sleep.
At 4AM I woke up, checked on Jack, the tree, and got some water. The storm had really calmed down. it was still very windy outside and we were still getting metal rattling sounds from our chimney (which I expect I will have to look into tomorrow as it’s never made noise before). But all in all, the storm seemed to be dying down and all was well. So, I got back in bed and settled in for a more restful, calm sleep.
That’s when I heard it.
Through the wall.
Four beeps, six seconds of silence, four beeps…
Maybe it was revenge for my having called the police. Maybe he’s really just that clueless (Ann had emailed him about the beeps the previous day). Who knows? But, once again, I’m up at 5AM and sleep is nowhere to be found.