We didn’t know what was wrong with the neighbors. Whenever we passed them in the halls they made a strange sound, like a hiss. They never looked us in the eye, either.
The neighbors weren’t a part of the evening, so they didn’t concern us too much.
What did concern us was the body, that it fell.
The body had fallen from the sofa and landed on the carpet, but the neighbors couldn’t hear that. The body landed softly, like it had been laid down on a soft surface, like it was a baby put to bed.
It’s not as if the neighbors don’t make any noise themselves. Yesterday one of them was trudging back and forth in high-heeled shoes. We listened to the high-heeled shoes and imagined what it would be like to walk in them. We don’t allow high-heeled shoes in the house, so we can’t say for sure.
We knocked on the ceiling with a broom handle and they knocked back. This went on for about twenty minutes.
Most of us wanted to go home at this point, once the body was on the floor like this, as it was late. Most of us were tired and had to get up for work tomorrow. Not everyone had to get up for work, but everyone said they did. The truth is most of us don’t work. We either don’t have to or don’t want to. No one blames anyone else either way. We all understand what everyone is up against.
We weren’t sure who was responsible for the body falling on the floor. All of us had been near the body at some point during the evening, but there was no way to tell who was responsible.
Still, none of us ever point fingers.
We drew lots to see who would take the body away. The process was equitable and went off without incident. One of us with soft-soled shoes drew the body lot and this signaled the end of the evening.
Everyone was then reminded of the neighbors. We told them to be mindful of the neighbors on the way out. We told them about the noise, the complaints. We said we didn’t know what was wrong and we apologized.
People were milling about as we did this, putting on coats and hats and discussing what they were doing for the coming weekend and the rest of their lives. Everyone had similar plans. All of us were going out east or skiing up north or to their villa in the south. No one was any different. We all blended into each other, one body into the next, arms and legs, hands and heads.
On the way out everyone whispered that it was a lovely evening, that they were happy to see everyone else and looked forward to next time.