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May 23, 2017 | Fiction

Knocking

Tiffany Jimenez

Knocking photo

There’s someone knocking on my door. Waldo doesn’t seem to care so I try not to either, but I can’t just lick between my nails, stretch my leg up behind my head and clean so methodically the darkness down there.

The knocking is distracting. It’s endless. Really. A rapid knock knock knock knock knock knock knock [pause] knock knock knock knock knock knock knock [pause then repeat].

I look up at the vintage black cat clock, tail swinging back and forth, and I try to remember how many minutes ahead of the actual time I set it for in my attempt to fight against lateness. Five? Fifteen? Seven—I get in moods sometimes where I believe it’s lucky to choose an odd number outside of dividends of five—? Then I realize it doesn’t matter if the clock is set behind or ahead, especially if I’m just trying to decipher how many minutes the knocking’s been knocking.

Knock knock knock knock knock knock knock [pause] knock knock knock knock knock knock knock [pause then repeat].

Waldo is on his stomach now. His large body upright against the window. Legs splayed open towards me as he closes and then opens his eyes with each long lick at his middle.

The door seems shaky. As if these knocks are making it just as uneasy as they’re making me. I recall here that there’s a hammer underneath the sink. Yes! I know how to use a hammer. My small apartment makes the kitchen easily accessible, and if I leap just right, I can avoid the part of flooring that creaks really loudly. But if I leap, then my shadow, my movement, will definitely show through the keyhole. And the knocking hasn’t stopped so I know the knocker knows I’m home and is waiting for me to make a move and prove them right. 

I wish I could grab my phone. But it’s underneath Waldo’s fat ass. My cell phone calms him. I think he enjoys his ability to suffocate the noise without effort. I usually appreciate this ability of his, too, which is why I leave my phone out on his perches. 

But now, now I need that stupid phone. How else will I be able to call the cops when the knocking goes past twenty minutes? 

The black cat shows me it’s been at least ten and a half, more than a half, three quarters… minutes. 

I’m feeling really uneasy. My shins start to tickle, and I know what’s coming next. I concentrate on imagining blood flowing seamlessly through my vessels, reaching each outer point of my body, working hard against the onslaught of limbs falling asleep.

Thud!

Waldo is strutting towards me as I detect that the knocking’s gotten louder. I look up at the window sill hoping my phone doesn’t ring.

Blasting noises spring from the vibrating cellular device, growing louder with each ring, the knocking adding a cool rhythm to BOOM, CRASH, BANG. I try to silently tap my fingers against my thigh to imprint this beat on it so that I can show Allen later. Allen says I haven’t got a voice on me, and so I’ve been trying to come up with special lyrics that only a voice like mine could sing. The last time I shared one of them, Allen said he couldn’t hear anything past the faucet. I stood behind him in the kitchen as he rinsed his hands with steaming water and wondered how long he could go on like that. 

Knock knock knock knock knock knock knock [pause] knock knock knock knock knock knock knock [pause then repeat].

The phone stops ringing, it’s been sixteen minutes, and Waldo has fallen asleep on top of my foot, which has fallen asleep as well. Two more reasons, I note, that I cannot move. I’d hate to wake Waldo who has trouble sleeping, and the pain of lifting my dead foot will make me scream anyway. The knocker, I think, would like that. My screams, they will learn, are not as loud as my sneezes, and catching me scream like that, barely at all, the knocker will know that they’ve got me. That I will stay put till they break the door with their knocks. That even as the door falls, slams, and they drag their heavy feet towards me, I will stay still, hoping Waldo has not been disturbed, hoping Allen will come in at any moment even though I told him he wasn’t welcome here anymore, to an apartment he does not pay for, to a cat that he never wanted in the first place, to a girl he has repeatedly called variations of the word insane. You are not welcome, I shouted, and he looked startled, I must’ve gained some volume then, my feelings so strong that they gave me conviction. He must have believed me because he has not been back home since Saturday and it is now Sunday evening, the door nearly knocked away.  

image: Doug Paul Case


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