The house is creaking like an old ship; I hear a woman’s voice that I don’t recognize in the apartment up above, she is talking to a higher-pitched male voice than the usual tenant who lives there. Could it be Airbnb or just visitors from out of town? It’s definitely someone who is experiencing new things to speak about, I can hear the relish in their voices. A truck beeps its reversal warning somewhere in the cavernous collection of random sounds that siren, shout and scrape out there in world behind this house. Even though that world back there – referred to as Alphabet City – has transformed from drug-addled poverty to upscale restaurants and valuable real estate, I still think of the front of the house as the place the important stuff happens. The front is where the numbered Avenues begin, First through Tenth, as opposed to A to D.
“Is that the phone?” My heart raises.
“Oh, it is the same ring but muffled, must be the next door phone.” Disappointed, I sink back into the mattress, wish the bell would ring or something; even the postman would be a lift. I never knew raindrops could be so loud, and the tick of that big old secondhand clock that we bought on the street, there goes a church bell, the hoo hoo of the turtle doves that come to our window to eat the flowers, a fire engine scream, a staccato truck brake, and the building never stops creaking! What the hell is that about? It seems to be groaning at the weather, it is a miserable grey wet day, very reminiscent of Ireland, the building seems to wince at every raindrop.
I’m lying in the bed on Monday morning with the flu. I went to the gym on Friday morning and worked a little harder than usual. Instead of just riding the bike for a half-hour aerobic I ran for 15 minutes too, at a fair pace. And then I did a little extra on a few of the weight yokes, came home, had a hot bath, and was feeling a bit sore. Thinking that it was because of the extra stuff at the gym, I dried off and sat on the bed to put on clean socks and felt the urge to just lie down for a second afterwards. About a half hour later I woke up feeling really sore, a bit confused, I dragged myself out of the bed “God I’ve got to get going, I’m wasting time here… I know! I’ll go across to the Italian café and get a latte to go, that way I’ll get some fresh air and some caffeine”. It was bizarre weather on Friday, the temperature soared to 78 degrees, so I put on a t-shirt and shorts. Boy, everything hurt; just lifting my leg to shove it into the shorts was a strain. I decided that I would take forty dollars with me for the coffee, on the way there I would amble past that Korean massage place and see if that bloke was in there, maybe I would get one of their half hour deals for $24.99. The bloke was the best, I had tried it before and got him by accident, he had been sitting behind the counter while the other ladies stood around, I talked to him because he seemed like he worked there, not knowing that they all did too. He worked on my shoulder knot and was getting somewhere when I heard a bloke come in and ask in a booming voice “Is the man here?” They answered in subservient broken English, next minute a woman’s voice is whispering furtively through a slit in the makeshift door behind me, he whispers back, and I can feel the hands change on my neck, I could hear the men talking in the reception as she continued the job with her small hands. That’s how I knew he was the best, he came back in five minutes and the hands changed again, and the difference was huge.
Once I got outside into the blaring sunshine, I felt that coffee was not an option and proceeded to the massage parlour. Mike was there they said (found out his name) and he came out from his lunch to sort me out. But when I left there I was even worse and was only barely able to walk home, I got in bed and my head was on fire, it dawned on me then, that I had the accursed flu.
So here I lie in my empty apartment, Clare is at work, the world is in school. Watching the television or reading gives me a headache, so I listen to my mind having a field day with my …. mind? Apparently I’m a complete fuck-up and no matter how good my new album is, no one will give a shit (according to it/me /him) I can usually shut the bugger up, but maybe that’s why we get the flu, so that he can a word in. Every inch of me hurts, even my hands! How fondly I remember last Thursday, of course I didn’t know how well off I was then. Where did I catch it? That ould one behind me at the gym sneezed countless times all over me and never covered her mouth, I even threw her a look, she looked puzzled, she was always a cantankerous prat, is this house sinking to the south? Can you get the flu from a sneeze? I’m falling asleep once again, zzzzzzzzzz