The deafening peal of the metal fire alarms sliced through the quiet order of the morning like a hatchet through the skull. Ooops, an electrician accidentally hit a wrong wire. Cats scattered, necks stretched, pupils dilated, fur raised, looking for a safe place to escape the din and finding none.
The door tries to open against the steely crunch of the safety latch. An impatient sigh escapes on the other side of the door. Alarm still ding-ding-dinging. The car is “sputtering”, protesting against the Monday morning, no doubt. New spark plugs? New spark plug wires? Charlie abandons his drive to work in favour of the nearest mechanic. Alarm still hacking through skull with that dull hatchet.
Fire alarm. With danger real or imagined, I find kitty carriers and pretend to know what I’d grab if the danger were real. I’m reminded to do another backup of photos onto DVD this evening. Ding-ding-ding.
Meanwhile, in the hallways, gaggles of older women gather in various stages of dress. Smartly coordinated pants suit. Fuzzy bathrobes with matching slippers. Uncombed hair. Half-eaten toast. Sympathetic crooning for a yapping poodle. Ding-ding-ding. It’s okay, the electrician accidentally hit a wrong wire.
It occurs to me that I’m one of the youngest people in the building. That bothers me. Almost as much as the incessant ding-ding-ding.
Eventually, electrician sorts out the wiring and disables the alarm. Ears still ding-ding-dinging. Women drift apart and float on fuzzy slippers to their respective apartments, suddenly aware of their states of undress, clutching collars to throats.
I believe it’s going to be one of those days.