David Means, "The Knocking"

A man is driven mad by his noisy upstairs neighbor.

(from The Spot)

Upstairs, he stops for a moment, just to let the tension build, and then he begins again, softer at first, going east to west and then east again, heading toward the Fifth Avenue side of the building, pausing to get his bearings, to look out at the view, to taunt me, I imagine, before going back into motion for a few minutes, setting the pace with a pendulous movement, following the delineation of the apartment walls—his the same as mine, exactly the same—and then there is another pause, and I lean back and study the ceiling and hear, far off, the sound of knocking in his kitchen, until eventually, maybe five minutes, maybe more, he comes back and begins again persistent and steady, without the usual aggression, as if he had forgotten me, set me aside, put away his desire for vengeance, offering a reprieve from the nature of his knocking.

To the guy downstairs, every sound from above is a kind of knocking. Hammering a nail, sweeping a floor, these are just different breeds of knocks that pound away at his head. And for a while we sympathize with him. What could the upstairs guy be trying to accomplish, pounding away so cruelly? Then, well, we learn more about the downstairs guy. All the world loves an unreliable narrator. Good stuff.
Read it here.

3 thoughts on “David Means, "The Knocking"

  1. Jen

    dude, this is really cool that you’re doing this. I hope you keep it up… seeing as how your last post was in may, I guess I’m hoping for a revival. But honestly, I believe that if there’s going to be a resurrection of reading as a pastime in the US, it might as well start with short stories. because more often than not, they’re brilliant. and engaging.
    i’m not sure why I’m doing this here, but perhaps you’ll appreciate this somehow. i’ll get off my soapbox.
    cool site.


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