Noise Pollution
by Stephen Clark
August 30, 1996
It's been another difficult yet pointless day, stressing and stressing out in this lonely palace, this pit of desolation and decay. Can this be my home? Ha! They all pretend it is. But this is someone else's home, and I am just living here, if you could call it living.
    When my enemies return in just a while I will have to imprison myself in the four walled cage that they call a bedroom, and pray that the walls are thick enough to shield me from their contamination. In the meantime the only sound is the soft thunder of faceless commuters on the freeway. They are all on their way to somewhere, while I am going nowhere.
    For a moment there is a lull in the traffic. I raise my head and listen to the beautiful silence, and for a moment everything is clear.
    But I know,
    And you know,
    That the first of my enemies is approaching.
    I can hear him now, entering the palace with defilement in his footsteps. Who is he? The evil one -- the diabolical brute who corrupts my life and plays hell with my senses. Get out... Get out...
    But he's home for the evening and there is barely a minute's pause before he starts pumping out the noise pollution. Is it music? Maybe. But it's not my music... it's an unwanted offensive sound. Fool! Turn it off! What can I do? I can't write -- I can't read -- I can't even -- think --
    Let me exhale. Perhaps if I take my mind off it, I can just put up with it. Grin and bear it. But it isn't long before the music changes. It's getting worse. The grinding, the screaming, the violence... did this music originate from the depths of hell, or from the twisted mind of some deranged bloodthirsty lunatic?
Noise as a threat

He's turning it up. No! I've got to do something. So I turn on my own music. It's music by one of my favourite groups, written by a true artist, performed by skilled musicians, a product of the finest musical craftsmanship. May I relax now? Will this new music ease the strain? No. For I can still hear the infernal noise pollution in the background. I couldn't possibly turn my own music up -- this music isn't designed to be played loud. It could prove to be just as annoying as the other noise. Oh what can I do? Any excess of sound is an offense to my ears.
    But let's pretend it isn't music. After all, the distorted electric guitar almost blurs into a continuous, unmusical rumble -- let's pretend it's just an over-loud refrigerator, or a pot of boiling water, or any one of the normal sounds that we learn to ignore each day. - - - - But no, it can't be done. There is a melody in there, and chord changes, imposing structure into the cacophony, like generals organising a war.
    I can hear him singing along to it now in his stupid tone-deaf voice. Suddenly he increases the volume again and it nearly blows me away. My own music is weak now -- it's like a beautiful thing being raped and violated. With trembling hands I turn it off. I am powerless and defenseless. GET OUT! I have to escape from this torture chamber, but I've got no place to go. The music is shaking the whole house
        vibrating the floors
        tormenting my ears
        burrowing into my brain
        fraying my nerves
        pounding on my mind
        torturing my soul
        slaying my sanity
and it keeps on coming. Relentless. It must be stopped. I've got to do something, even if it means storming into that room with an axe or a crowbar smashing the guts out of that stereo until it's just a lifeless pile of twisted metal and wires. I've got to do it, for the sake of eternal silence. Where's my weapon? What? What? I don't have one. Well never mind; I'll go in there, raise each stereo component above my head, and smash it on the floor. And then my battle will be won.
    My hand fumbles as it opens the bedroom door. This is going to be harder than I thought; the noise is pushing me back, but I defy it and march closer towards the source. Is this a suicide mission? Will the noise destroy me before I get close enough to... no, there it is against the living room wall, that evil black box, the source of all my trouble, looking so confident in its aura of destructive sonic power.
    I stand and face it.
    I frown at its blinking lights.
    I lay my hand on the turntable.
    I grasp it firmly.
    A button catches my eye.
    It says "stop".
    I press it.
    What happened?
    Suddenly I'm confused. From the corner of my eye I see a man enter the room. It's him. He says: "Oh, sorry, a bit too loud for you was it?"
    I nod my head. My hand falls to my side. What was I going to do again?
    He keeps talking: "I didn't even know you were home. Sorry mate, I'll try to keep it down a bit from now on."
    It's over.
Some Information about this story:
    This was designed to be a spoken word piece, and it was supposed to be the basis of a short film (shot on video) that I was creating as part of an arts course. As it turned out, I never got to finish the video because I ran out of time and didn't have access to the camera and editing equipment anymore. So this web-page is the only use I have for it now. The story is an exaggerated version of my own experiences living with someone who tended to play loud annoying music.