The terror that lay the parking lot

Otherworldly sounds and torments plague a north-side resident as construction rolls on.

Otherworldly sounds and torments plague a north-side resident as construction rolls on.

Photo by R’lyeh Imaging on Flickr.

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It was before sunrise in the eleventh month of the plague when I awoke to a bone-chilling cacophony. The blackest dread pervaded my senses.


In the cold morning, a horrendous, rhythmic screeching had erupted from beyond the windows, its source a mystery. It repeated: eight shrill, metronomic shrieks followed by a boom that shook the earth. It was as if the primordial beasts of ages past had returned and were fighting to the death outside of my tenement. What ghastly horror!

My mind groped for the source: could it be the wagon that carries the waste away? No! It was not garbage day. Could it be removal of the thick blanket of snow that carpeted the earth below? But nary had fallen for a week… In the early dawn’s light, I peered suspiciously through the blinds. My tired and grumpy eyes were shocked. No. Gods, no! It cannot be. Not now, of all times! Why?!

But for all their wanting, my disgruntled peepers could not be deceived. For it was the most horrid source of tumult one can imagine discovering in a world where the axis of existence is based solely within one’s dwelling. Yes, to my terror, in the little-used parking lot of a local non-profit, something was taking shape… but first it had to be demolished. 


Soon, I made an investigation. Approaching against the bitter winter breeze, I was stricken upon viewing the site from another angle. I clutched my chest. Oh, insult of insults! A metal chain fence upwards of 10 feet high had been erected. It was fortified with sandbags. I shuddered at the recognition of the extended presence of these cruel disturbers of the peace. 

Encaged in my very home, I paced. For I have business to attend to and constant CLANGing and BEEPing interrupt my thoughts. I imagined them, the men shrouded in glowing yellow vests with hats hard as stone fitted atop their craniums. They would be placing orange cones and using machines to lift—and drop—their vile materials. No, this cannot be. IT SIMPLY CANNOT BE! What of the children and those with sensory issues? What would become of all of us in the surrounding domiciles, holed up like insects in the cells of our homes? Yet, the men had come. They had stationed their behemoth Canyoneros in a space that regularly held no more than a few fuel-efficient vehicles. It was to be.

The hideousness continued—I see it still! There are machines like giant ants, grotesque mechanisms with a man inside. They sit there, waiting, droning with the revolutions of a diesel-spewing motor. Waiting to bludgeon the sweet, precious silence. The machine raises a dumpster to a second-floor window. Soon, it is filled with the guts of the building. The beeping commences as it backs away before it is body-slammed onto the concrete below. One wonders what wages the men in the machines earn to incite such grating commotion. Over and over. And over and over. And over into eternity.  

A cargo shipping container labeled “Findorff” is the hub of all of this racket. Findorff. Oh, how I curse that name! For now, it disgraces the view of my favorite tree—the tallest in the yard—the one I used to gaze at while remembering balmy summer days as I ruminated over breakfast each morning.

And now, these are my days. The window panes rattle intermittently between beep-enveloped dumpster-concrete collisions, a somber background to the clatter of my keyboard. The grey, menacing winter sky offers no relief. Nay, it offers worry, as I gaze toward my new, less-opulent, favorite tree! Whither the relative silence, marred only by locomotives on the nearby railroad tracks, by regular F-35s flyovers, commercial airliners, a factory of indeterminate products by the way, and by the alarmingly strong vibrate setting on my upstairs neighbor’s phone? What I wouldn’t give to return to that peace!

For here I must live and here I must work. Oh, I would away to a coffee shop, comforted by the surrounding din of work meetings and first dates. What joy, what sweet relief I could find in a co-working space, so many of which before had seemed unnecessarily costly and dangerously bro-adjacent. For today, I would nearly welcome those bros as kin, gladly receiving from them a fist bump, were it not for the plague that they assumedly spread at some point. 



But, wait! Listen! Can you hear it? This very instant, nothing is audible aside from my roommate’s voice during a Zoom meeting. A thought dares creep into my head. Might today be the day? The hallowed day I close my eyes for a nap? Gingerly, I recline and rest my weary, sound-boggled head, closing my tireder and somehow-grumpier eyes. My breathing deepens. I drift off to… CRASH! BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. 

But no. No. I have no choice but to remain here. In a dearth of naps and captive to the rattling of the walls of this classic historical 1990s apartment building that protects me against the plague and holds me within this maddening, torturous soundscape. The beeping… the banging… the beeping with the banging inside of it! Must I remain captive forever more to the sound of … the construction!?

An ode to the best and worst of Madison summers.

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