Ring the alarm
He had a hard look to him yet when he smiled he looked like someone else entirely; a 5 year-old on his birthday or someone incapable of deceit. Whenever I saw him across the street in the neighborhood deli, he would count each coin carefully, unused to the denominations and founding father faces. His family had just moved from Jamaica and were renting a one family home that was practically attached to my apartment building. Their second floor windows and my third floor window were close enough that I could easily hand over some supplies should they need any. But people didn't do much of that in my hood*. I had read about the phenomena in books and the thought that there were places in the world where people borrowed sugar from one another filled me with peace. It was just about the nicest thing I could think of. I can't really explain why I felt that way, certainly not now.
So Barry, the neighbor, for that was his name, loved to blast music from his bedroom window. Usually dancehall but sometimes other, more recognizable classics. One night he was blaring a song that had a familiar refrain.
Ring the Alarm/Tenor Saw (live video)
I knew that song! I knew it! I had to reply! I ran over to my cds, grabbed the one I needed, inserted it into the tiny boombox, placed it on the windowsill and as soon as his was done, played this one right back at the same wall pumping volume.
Fell, Destroyed/Fugazi (mp3)
I could hear the next track on his side play for about 30 seconds and then he turned it off. It was just my "reply" playing in the twilight. The same refrain, but from another place entirely. When it ended, I pressed stop. He didn't play anything the rest of the night but I could see his seated silhoutte at the window, writing. I didn't play anything either. I moved out a short time later so I never got to ask what he thought.
Buy Red Medicine by Fugazi.
* Dropping by the neighbors just wasn't done unless you knew each other from church and my moms was not down with forced socializing.