by Richard E. Dansky
They weren’t even trying to be quiet now. The idea of keeping it down had become a joke, a sort of high-decibel sotto voce. Ian felt red rage bubbling up within him, and hammered on the door with the flat of his hand. “Come on, you assholes, cut it out! I need to get some sleep here.” More pounding, hard enough to hurt now. “Would you please just keep it down, or so help me God, I’m coming in there and I’m going to kick your asses!”
There was no laughter now. No noise. No profanity. Just silence. Ian hit the door once more, mainly out of momentum. His hand made a weak, wet noise, a soft slapping sound. He drew it back, suddenly unsure of what to do next. Keep pounding? Go back to bed? Wait?
A sound came from the other side of the door then, a quiet, rasping noise accompanied by whispers and titters. It took Ian a moment to realize that it was the sound of the chain being pulled off the door on the other side of the wall. The noise from the street seemed to vanish. The door in front of him loomed larger, brighter, and more threatening. Suddenly, he was acutely aware of the weakness of his situation, of why a middle-aged man in his underwear should not threaten multiple obnoxious drunks in the middle of the night.