One Stroke Before Ten


Things had been nice had been going nicely since her neighbor and his girlfriend had moved on, peace at last especially after 10 PM when Gladys was becoming drowsy and sleep beckoned her into her small bedroom, which unfortunately was adjacent to the noisy couple’s living room. They had all day to make noise and they frequently did, but to disturb her attempts at slumber, she could only take so much before exploding and giving them a piece of her mind. They shouldn’t be up after ten disturbing their neighbor’s rest anyway, she wondered what they were getting into next door, but that annoying loud music and bumping around was enough send any sane decent person over the bend.

“It’s 9:45 pm, I‘ll wait  till the stroke of 10 to cut out all the noise and then…”, Gladys stopped in mid-sentence as she felt her right side stiffening, just before the side of her face hit the plush fiber of her ornate carpet. Gladys’ first thought was, “ Funny, this carpet still has a faint smell after all I spent to clean it”, then Gladys realized if she didn’t get help immediately she could die on her bedroom floor or become a vegetable like her namesake Aunt Gladys Sorenson. If she crawled over to the bedroom wall facing her neighbor, she could use what little strength to get their attention by banging loudly on the wall, his response usually was to knock back harder or usher his partner down the hallway to the

T.V. for about an hour. Either response this time could mean her doom, Gladys had her Jesus Saves signs and a door knob plaque stating, ”I’m Okay”, and her apartment neighbors might take that to mean she’d doing fine but wishes privacy, Gladys became terrified as she slow began losing her “what’s that called?”, suddenly puzzled, “Oh yeah, my mental faculties”. Gladys could sense that more and more of her brain cells were rapidly dying, she wanted to cry out for her God’s help, but cursed Him instead for afflicting her rather than Gladys’ sinful neighbor. Now she became angry and frightened believing her bowels were about to move, “Fine, that’s just what I need, for someone to come to my rescue and find me having craped all over myself. Gladys had to turn her whole body now to move her head, but laying on top of her bathroom slippers was her Emergency, she couldn’t remember what it was called but knew she needed to push it, she felt like a giant slug or beached whale as she took the last ounce of strength to scoot over to her bedroom slippers.

Gladys wasn’t going to make it she would die helpless on her bedroom floor, or be discovered by her daughter or the caretaker, an 80 year old woman covered in fesses and forever brain damaged. Another curse word flew out of her now gnarled and contorted mouth, as she lunged with all her remaining strength on to her electronic savior, pushing the locket sized alert feverishly until the Emergency Technicians forced it out of her hands. Now some EMT in a fireman suit was shouting questions a the grateful stroke victim, “And I thought my neighbor was loud”, and Gladys noticed he was standing next to the EMT guy giving her information about his good neighbor Gladys. When the local fire station sent the EMT crew to her rescue, Gladys’ next door neighbor heard them knocking on her door, had inserted a credit card between the door knob and strike plate which easily opened the door. Gladys’ neighbor was visibly shaken and heard to he was glad he wasn’t wearing his headphones, he may not have heard the E.M.T.’s knocking. Gladys overheard her neighbor say to the EMT,” Funny, since she was lying right there, why didn’t she just bang on the wall?”, Gladys excused his ridiculous comment because she knew that had barely survived this crisis… or But by the Grace of God they used to say at church. Hopefully, Gladys and her neighbor could find common ground to be friendly and help one another, next time God Forbid there might not be a button to push, maybe she could push her bed further away from his living room and tolerate the sounds of a little muffled bounding by him and his mate?