I've spent the last two, no, three weeks, shitting my brains out due to some weird stomach virus I got for some fucking reason. It got me thinking, what kind of Beauty & Beast member would I be?
See, when we first moved into our new apartment about a year ago, I was really nervous about sound. The last apartment we lived at was in government housing and our neighbors were the worst. They had this weird fixation on me and so every time I would make a noise, they would complain. They never even met me, I mean shit, people got shot at least once a day in that neighborhood so I wasn't going outside any time soon. It turned me into a recluse. Worse still, it made their fixation on me grow deeper. I have always been a night owl and so I sometimes sleep during the day and stay away at night. It's just who I've always been.
But I make noise sometimes. I can get loud, although not too loud. But their fixation shifted into this weird fantasy where they thought I was listening to them have "adult time", if you know what I mean. Every time I would make a noise, they would be over knocking on our door, complaining about the pervert upstairs listening to them. Ironically enough, I bought a pair of 5.1 Surroundsound Wireless Stero Headphones for my PS3, so I couldn't actually even hear what was going on in my own room, much less next door.
It got worse though as time went on. They complained pretty much any time I would talk to friends, be it via skype or playing video games. Whenever I would yell downstairs to my mom or anything, they'd be over, saying I was listening to them have sex. Every day it happened. Even sometimes when I'd be at work for 10 hours, they'd come over and complain because they thought I was still home even though I was not. It was funny watching these people practically devolve right in front of me. But they made life hard for us. I couldn't watch TV anymore because they'd just complain about me listening to them, because they somehow misinterprit the sounds of gunfire and screaming about getting to the chopper as me with an ear to the wall. Don't even ask, I don't know.
But we got out of there and moved. I was actually able to live without fear of crazy neighbors. In fact, our neighbors seem okay. I think they are drug dealers but I don't say anything because they keep to themselves. But see, something changed recently. The neighbors got a dog.
Now, this dog isn't your typical dog. It's not one of those blue eyed American Dream, family value dogs. This dog is the most annoying fucking evil being on this planet. This cross-eyed white furred bastard does NOTHING but sit outside and BARK, BARK BARK BARK, BARK BARK BARK at the fucking ground. No, not at passing cars, not at the neighbors kids or even another dog, the GROUND. THE IMMOVABLE EARTH ITSELF.
See, I don't mind when the neighbors kids would go out and play, even when they do so right outside my window, because kids need to go out and have fun you know. I remember when I was a kid some guy yelled at me about playing outside and it affected me. No kid should go through that. No, I have no problem when they play. But this fucking four legged infidel beast from hell... this fucking creature of damnation itself. The GOD. DAMN. JOHN CENA OF DOGS. IT DOESN'T STOP. IT DOESN'T QUIT. IT DOESN'T SHUT UP. IT WON'T SHUT UP. IT CAN'T SHUT UP.
I open my window sometimes and just look at this monster, staring at the ground, barking. Why? Why does this dog bark? Why does this evil have such a problem with Mother Earth, Terra herself? Is it the color of the stone? The amount of dirt covering it? Ants? Could it be ants? These questions keep me up at night while the dog keeps me awake during the day. I've developed an intense insomnia and I have trouble going to sleep. I can't stay still, my wrestless leg syndrome waking my mind and the obsession this dog has with the ground. But that's not where it ends, unfortunately.
Back to the sound, why does no one else hear this dog? Why does no one else complain? Am I the only person being kept awake at night, with the thoughts of this fur covered living hell? Do the neighbors not hear this? What is their strategy? I am prone to thick, noise cancelling headphones and loud muisc, but that dog seeps through, one BARK, BARK BARK BARK, BARK BARK at a time.
When my body collapses due to the intense fatigue of staying awake for days at a time, I dream of the dog. But these aren't just dreams. These are nightmares. I see the world through its eyes but I don't understand its thoughts. Bark, bark? Bark bark BARK! BARK! BARK BARK! BARK BARK! Bark... Bark? Bark! Bark! BARK!! The ground...? Why the ground? Why are we barking at the ground? Is there something there? Someone? Have we discovered a secret of some sorts?
I started seeing a therapist. We talk about my life. The loss of my birth mother/sister and how that may have affected me at a young age. He says that even though I was too young to understand it, it may have caused some sort of trauma in my young mind. We discussed the passing of my father and how I still have trouble accepting it. When I was young, I would be too scared to sleep in my room so I'd go out to the living room and sleep on the couch, only to be awoken by my dad playing Gran Turismo. I'd wake up to play with him and we'd take turns beating the time trials. We had so much fun doing that. He didn't play many video games, but Gran Turismo was certainly "our" game. And in my dreams, sometimes I'm there with him on that couch again, playing those games again. I look to my dad and tell him I love him and he looks at me and he mouths something, but I can't hear it. There's this... this noise, it's so loud that I can't hear my dad. I tell him I love him again and he mouths something else but I can't hear him. It's this sound coming from somewhere... Bark... Bark bark. Bark bark bark. Bark. BARK. BARK. BARK BARK BARK.
It's the dog. It's that same fucking dog, outside my window, barking at the fucking groud. I can't even see my dad anymore because of this fucking dog.
My therapist came up with an idea to do a sleep test. I'll come over to a hospital and they'll hook some wires up to me and study my sleep patterns, that maybe they can get me the help I need. It goes well enough, they gave me a nice comfortable bed with a blanket and some pillows, hooked me up to some wires that run into the room next door where they can monitor me, and after a temporary, 20 or so minute fight with insomnia, off to sleep I go.
This time, sure enough, is a dream with my dad again. This one is one of my favorite memories of him because of how absurd it was. See, my dad was a truck driver, he drove semi trucks across the country for about 30 years, especially long before I was born. Growing up, me and my mom would go with him all across the country. I have memories of seeing New York, California, Las Vegas and all kinds of crazy monuments before I was even 6. We'd been there and seen it all. This memory wasn't actually that old though. I was about 15 or 16, just a year or so before he ended up getting sick. We're on a trip to New Jersey, where we have to deliver a load. As it happens, the load got delayed. We picked it up too soon so we had to wait in the middle of nowhere at some truck stop in New Jersey. It. Wasn't. Pleasent. We're in the parking lot of a Flying J truck stop, using the worst wifi imaginable while I talk to my internet-girlfriend on Gaia Online(No one said being a teenager was easy) and that's about all we did for three straight days. Aside from going inside and eating from their terrible buffet which was terrible, there was nothing else we could do.
Cut to three days later and we're finally on our way. It's night now and we're driving across this dark road somewhere on the way out of New Jersey. The radio is on some rock station and no one is talking. I decide to look over and see what my dad is doing and he has the biggest shit eating grin on his face I've ever seen. I'm all - what - and he's over there trying not to laugh. I look out of the front and see this deer standing in the middle of the road... but... but this is different somehow. The dream is different from my memory. I've dreamed this a thousand times, but this time it isn't the same. It's as if time stops while my mind tries to work itself out, to figure out what is different. Is it my dad? No, my dad is the same. Is it the truck? No, that's the same too. Is it me? I don't know, I can't say for sure, but everything looks like it's okay. That's when I look out at the road, where the deer is standing. Except this time it's not a deer.
Bark... Bark... Bark... Bark... Bark. Bark. Bark. BARK. BARK. BARK. BARK! BARK!! BARK!!!
It's the dog. But he's not barking at the ground anymore, he's walking towards the truck. But I'm not in the truck anymore. I'm standing in the middle of this empty, black road. He's walking faster, and barking louder. It's starting to hurt my ears, I try to turn around and run but I know I can't outrun a dog. Those things are fast. But the sound is hurting, it's so loud. I've got to try something.
I run faster than I ever thought I could and my chest is pounding. I tell myself not to look back, but I do and the dog is close. I keep looking back and the dog is getting closer and closer. I turn one more time but this time I trip and fall down and the dog is right on me, about to bite my face off and that's when I hear people calling my name. It's drowning out the barking, little by little. I wake up in a hot sweat with my therapist grabbing onto me, trying to wake me up. There's some doctors standing around the room with cooling blankets and I'm immediately worried. Am I gonna have a heart attack or something, what the fuck are these people doing.
They said I was sleeping fine for a while but then my heart rate began increasing rapidly followed by a body temperature spike. They said if I hadn't woken up I could have stroked out. That's not something you'd want your doctors telling you after a nightmare, but nothing I can do now I guess. I stayed there for a couple of extra hours while they made sure there was nothing wrong and I went home.
The day was a lot better for me, definitely one that I needed. It was raining and very chilly outside, so the neighbors kids or dog were inside this time, and I could relax as much as I wanted to. I hit up Netflix and started watching It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia since some of my friends keep cramming it down my throat, why not finally watch? The day goes by and I get some much needed rest. The next day I can hear the neghbors kids outside playing and I bide my time until the dog starts barking again, but that day goes by and I get even more R&R. I'm almost back to feeling 100% when the next day comes along. Outside the children are playing but no dog. Did they get rid of it? Did someone else finally complain and they got rid of it? I saw the neighbors outside and decided to ask.
"Hey, I haven't seen your dog around in a while. What happened to it?"
They looked at me, then each other and had a little laugh.
"We've never owned a dog."
And in the distance I could hear the all too familiar sound creeping back to me, one at a time...
BARK!!! BARK!!! BARK!!!