Hearken! and observe how healthily, how calmly, I can tell you the whole story.
There is a sound within the walls of this old house. My wife and I have heard it for the better part of a year – longer perhaps. How to describe it…? I imagine a schoolboy, bored and weary, kept in for detention, alone in the classroom. He is slumped across his desk, his head on one outstretched arm. In his right hand is a small, hard rubber superball. He holds it two inches above the wooden desk then lets it fall. BOM BOM bom bom bo bo bi bi… As its bounces quicken, they lessen in volume. He gathers up the ball, waits a moment then repeats the movement exactly. Over and over again, finding some solace for his boredom in the perfect repetition. That is the sound we hear in our wall: only it is deeper by many octaves than a ball on a wooden desk.
The sound is often with us. We hear it only in two rooms – the bedroom and the bathroom, both built out from the rear of the house, unconnected to the neighbour’s property. We hear it when the wind blows and when the air is perfectly still. When it rains and when it doesn’t rain. By day or by night. Whether or not the furnace and the water heater are working. There is nothing to bang against the outside wall of the house. The sound does not reach the ground floor or the basement. Sometimes in the night it is loud enough to wake us. At other times, when I’m shaving, for instance, it is barely audible. Often it disappears for days on end.
This house is full of strange noises – the creaks and croaks and sudden reports of the hardwood floor, unexplained clicks and gurgles in the kitchen that can only be something to do with the fridge. But the sound in the wall is different. BOM BOM bom bom bo bo bi bi… Armitage – if you are reading this – and I know you are – pray keep your fevered, psychotic hypotheses to yourself. Anyone else, if you can shed some light onto this strange occurrence, we would be more than grateful.