By: Michael C. Keith
We live in a rainbow of chaos.
–– Paul Cezanne
My girlfriend and me rented a tiny bungalow at the end of the boardwalk in Atlantic City next to a rundown ten-story tenement. The outside of our house was in need of a coat of paint and the shutters were hanging at different angles than they should, but the interior wasn’t bad. The floors were a bit uneven and there was a slight leak in the bathroom ceiling. But on the plus side, there was a small wood fireplace in the kitchen and a built-in bookshelf in the front room where we put our collection of seashells and used paperbacks. Unfortunately, the bedroom window looked out onto the wall of the cement high-rise. I calculated it was about eight inches away.
We spent what was left of the first day in our new place sitting on the sagging front porch that overlooked the ocean and then turned in. Not long after, things started crashing down on the roof. The initial loud thud shocked us out of our sleep. It was followed at measured intervals by several more jarring booms that caused us to run outside to see what was happening. As we stood on the sidewalk and looked up, another object was hurled from a window of the building that towered over ours.
“Shoes!” shouted my girlfriend. “They’re dropping fucking shoes on our roof.”
As soon as the words slipped from her mouth, another pair descended onto the top of our squat digs.
Stunned and perturbed, I called the police and reported what was happening.
“Shoes?” asked the officer.
“Yes, shoes,” I answered.
“What type?” he inquired.
“Does it matter?” I replied.
“Maybe not . . . hold on,” he said.
After a few moments, he spoke again. ”Well, I checked, and there’s no law against that.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Dropping footwear from a tall building onto a smaller one is no offence, regardless of the type of shoes,” he offered.
We returned to the front porch and mulled over the officer’s response to our complaint. Then we re-entered our new rental and slipped under the covers of our double bed. It only took a while before we got used to the crashing sounds and went back to sleep.
Michael C. Keith teaches college and writes fiction. http://www.michaelckeith.com