Beep Beep



The insistent electronic beeping of my alarm clock jolts me from sleep.  Beep beep.  I see 4:30 in crimson digits.  Damn, it’s way too early.  I bang down the alarm button and soon the beep beep reawakens me.  What the hell.  I squint into the face of my lover, Larry, looking for some activity in his snoring stupor and then at the clock face.  Four-forty-five?  What’s going on?  I had set it for 9:00.  I fumble with the clock, adjust the alarm setting and fall back to sleep.  Beep beep.  I wake up and it’s now five o’clock in bright red.  What a bunch of crap I always seem to get from La Source, just like when it was Radio Shack.

I unplug the clock and then dismantle it.  Through the haze of my drowsiness, I realize it’s not the clock because…beep beep.  And the pitch of that beep makes it impossible to track the direction even though that sound that is somewhere in my house is traveling through the medium of my hallway to pierce my ear.

I can’t get back to sleep and I wish Larry was up with me for companionship, but that’s okay.  At least I won’t be late for my job interview at 11 am.

I get up, may as well get some work done, finish up those graphics that have been brewing on my computer.  As my expresso machine effervesces, I dress and beep beep.  I unplug the other three electric clocks and take out the emergency batteries in all four.  Coffee in hand, I ensconce myself before my computer, our modern deity, open up Photoshop and beep beep.  Where the hell is it coming from?  Sound travels out from a definite source shooting through space and that beep beep takes more energy than a mezzo-soprano.  In the kitchen I unplug the Danby microwave, the digital stove, the expresso machine, the dishwasher, the LG washing machine and Maytag dryer, I don’t have a set you see, the fridge and just in case, the electric kettle, the Cuisinart toaster and the can opener.

Back at the computer, ten minutes later, beep beep.  I turn off the hot water tank.  Moving down the hallway to the computer, beep beep.  This is unwarranted.  Aha, the smoke alarms.  Hauling out the step ladder, I take down the one in the hallway, another near the bedroom, a third in the shed and remove their batteries.

Beep beep.  I’m on the hunt.  I poise high on my ladder with my ear cocked.  Having an ear on each side of your head allows you to distinguish where the sound is coming from.  I cock both ears.  Sound coming from one direction will reach the ear furthest away approximately 1/500 of a second later than the closer ear.  And presumably, the brain can discern this time lag.  Beep beep.  Crouched on the top of the ladder looking for prey, I see my doorbell.  I remove the batteries and head down the ladder beep beep.

I disconnect my LCD Toshiba television, the Sony blue-ray, the Panasonic mini system, the Bose sound dock and for good measure my ’70’s ghetto blaster, Philips hair dryer, electric toothbrush and Miele vacuum.  I ponder disconnecting Larry who is inexplicably still sound asleep.  Beep beep.

My set of six cordless Viatek phones, supernumerary in a seven room flat.  Of course.  I unplug those telephone lines and electric cords and remove all the batteries from the handsets.

Beep beep.  This was beyond my brain’s capacity.  I could not tell where the sound was coming from.  Indications are that it is more difficult to tell direction with low frequencies.  Which was not the case of that infernal beep beeping.  But other factors need be taken into consideration.  Like sound reflects off objects.  The height of the sound is provided by a small amount of reflection off the back edge of the ear lobe.  I have teeny weeny ear lobes.  The elongated shape of the lobe causes the pitch to vary with the angle of the source of sound and the expert I found on Google says it takes years of experience to be able to judge how far away sounds are coming from.

Beep beep.  I close the electrical circuit breakers, pull all fuses and I hunch over in attack mode.

Beep beep.

I get my sledge hammer and crowbar, put on my construction gloves so I won’t blister, and I crack open the gyprock, demolishing the plaster and wood lathing, to yank out the electrical wiring.  Submerged in a cloud of fine white powder and despite the gloves, a small blister, I relax, slightly.

Beep beep.

I get my portable, battery-powered chainsaw, don my welding helmet and safety glasses and go into full attack.  It was coming close to interview time and I had to get going.

I raze through the walls and brickwork like the Amazon I would like to be.  As my home tumbles down, wood, stone and bricks landing in one glorious heap, I shut off the chainsaw and wait.  Other than the cacophonous settling of the debris, I hear nothing.  I have won.  I begin my victory dance.

I dust myself off  and pirouette in the direction of the metro for my interview. Beep beep.  I spot my cel phone vibrating under a piece of plaster and pick it up to see a text message had been sent at 4.30 am to notify me that my interview had been cancelled.  A muffled sleepy voice wafts towards me, honey, can you get the coffee going?




Susan Dubrofsky is a Montreal writer and artist.