My boss Sally is a small, round woman with a permanently hunted expression.
Tonight at 11pm, she’s standing in my lounge wringing her hands and talking in even tones with the landlord. He’s looking unpleasant and unconsciously jerking his toes in time to the thumping bass coming from below. His toes spasm each time the singer tries to hit an especially tricky high note. And misses.
Sally pleads. The landlord, a bored, lonely, middle-aged man, crosses his arms and shakes his head. Sally turns to me, a smile stretched on her round face as it so often is when she has to deal with my bullshit complaints about hot water, failing internet, broken phones, bills in Korean I can’t decipher.
“Well, you must move out. You can be ready 11am tomorrow? Before class?”
If I pack and clean all night, I can be, and the noraebang’s stabbing bass will help me stay awake. I snarl nastily at the landlord and he throws up his hands, says “Aieego!” and leaves. He lives above me, and can’t hear the music and torturous singing from bored, lonely, middle-aged men who have gone to the noraebang every night for the past four months, from sundown to sunup. When they put down their mikes at 3am and blessed peace descends, I count myself lucky: four luxurious hours of sleep until the bulldozers and concrete drillers start up on the construction site next door.
That night I turn my speakers up as loud as they’ll go, tip them towards the ceiling, crank the bass and play music I hope he hates. I pack my clothes and clean the floor, mired until sunup in an awful cacophany. Once, someone bangs on my door screeching but I refuse to open it, clenching my teeth and wrapping plates instead. I’ve sunk so low, and it feels so good.
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