Jeannie flung open the yellow gingham curtains and bathed in the early morning summer sun. Within a minute the noise of a jackhammer assaulted her tranquility. Ratatatatatat tataratatat ratatatatat. “ Five days. Why in the world does it take that long to rip up a road and put in a sewer system? What have these guys got against letting kids sleep? “
As if on cue, eight year old Andy emerged screaming down the hallway and raced through the living room just a few steps ahead of thirteen year old Bethany. “Give me that you little Vulcan.” Andy was holding a cell phone at arm’s length while his sister chased him down. “I’ll slice you and feed you to the rats if you don’t give me that picture you just took.”
Jacko, their Jack Russell terrier was hot on her heels yapping for all he was worth. The narrow hallways in the townhouse magnified the echoes of life.
Jeannie prepared to intervene when the door bell rang. She saw Andy had safely closed himself into the bathroom while Bethany stood in her pajamas pounding on the door and threatened to break in and drown her pesky sibling in the toilet. Jacko stood on his hind legs balanced against the door letting the neighborhood know that something exciting was happening at the Davison place.
The harried young mom scooped up the mail and elbowed open the door so she could sign the courier’s clipboard. Bethany’s Bongo drums had arrived. Brother forgotten, Bethany squealed in jubilation and claimed her belated birthday present. A few accentuated rhythms outside the bathroom door was enough to aggravate her brother before she ducked into her room, locked the door and began her imitation of the Jungle Book complete with high volume lyrics.
Andy emerged and began to bang on Bethany’s door just as sirens sounded down the street. The fire truck was blocked by the road crew and the siren continued to blare. A minute later an ambulance sounded from the opposite direction. Both Bethany and Andy joined Jeannie at the door as they watched two police cruisers finally pull up with the other response vehicles into the apartment driveway. Jacko stood in the hallway howling in pain.
Jeannie strolled outside in her jogging suit to see what was happening while Bethany flipped on the radio and TV news at high volume so she could hear it from the porch. Five minutes later news reporters began to arrive. The ratatatatat tatatarat ratatatat that had ceased for two minutes began again.
Two year old Scott ended his patient calls for attention from his crib and began to exercise his lungs to capacity. The phone rang and Bethany grabbed it up and began to relay all the events of the day to some invisible friend. Andy began yelling for Jeannie to come back and get Scott and Bethany began yelling at him to quieten down so she could hear.
The timer on the oven began to buzz to signal that the muffins were done. A chime on their inherited grandfather clock sounded off the full nine count. Jeannie walked in with her friend Helen just as the smoke alarm made its presence known at full volume.
Jeannie instructed Helen to pick up Scott as she turned off the oven buzzer, opened a window, took the muffins out and attempted to prod the out of reach smoke alarm with a broom. Scott increased his volume at the approach of a stranger in his time of need and Helen began to inform Jeannie at high pitch that Scott needed someone to change him.
Jeannie gave Helen the broom to attack the smoke alarm while she went to deal with Scott. Andy called through the front door that the paperboy was now here and needed to collect his money for the newspaper. “Will someone please turn off that radio and TV so I can hear?”
Jeannie finished up with her youngest, propped him onto her hip, grabbed the needed money from her petty cash fund and headed for the kitchen. The smoke alarm stopped. Andy turned off the TV and radio. The ambulance pulled away from next door and slowly faded out of hearing. Bethany hung up the phone and the men on the street took a coffee break.
Jeannie walked into the dining room where her husband Dave stood on a chair placing a final domino onto a floor to ceiling tower he’d been building. “Finally, it’s done.”
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