The baby upstairs was crying again while I tried to think up a fairy tale for Larry DeSantis, who bowled lane three every Monday/Wednesday/Friday, and who was beginning to feel disrespected because for three days I’d come up empty. The crying wouldn’t stop for hours and was making me crazy. I screamed back. I got off the Barca recliner that I’d burst a heart-vessel haggling for at the Army-Navy, took a hammer from my toolbox, and hurled it again and again at the ceiling until my floor was covered in paint chips. Nothing stopped the baby’s wailing. Nothing. I sat down again and bit my thumbnail until the skin ripped and blood formed at the cuticle. More screaming from upstairs. Finally I licked my thumb and went up there to tell the baby’s parents to shut the baby the hell up. It was enough already.

So what gives?

I’ll say only this. I’ve known loneliness. I’ve lived in an apartment with a baby upstairs that wouldn’t quit screaming. I once had a music teacher whose name rhymed with fermata. Those are all true things, and all that I feel comfortable saying.