Hearing things that aren’t there and other random acts of weird

by Lorin Michel Monday, July 30, 2012 1:07 AM

Yesterday we found an HTC phone on the road just up Lindero, past Kanan and by the apartments. It had lost its red cover though both pieces were lying close by. We picked it up, tried to turn it on and were largely unsuccessful. So Kevin snapped the cover back into place and put it in his pocket. We thought maybe the battery was low and if we charged it when we got home, the screen would magically appear. We thought wrong.

We had a charger that fit and it took the charge but the screen seems to have completely lost its mind. We had good intentions of seeing if we could call one of the numbers, maybe even one that said “home,” and tell whomever answered that we had their phone. Again, wrong. So then we figured we’d just take it to a local Verizon store and see if they could extract any of the owner’s information to contact them. There’s really nothing else we can do short of putting up signs and I really reserve that for lost dogs and cats.

We left the phone in the kitchen on the counter. Big mistake.

At 7:30 this morning, just after I had fallen back to sleep and had entered the realm of a deep-don’t-wake-me-for-hours snooze, I was rudely awakened. I heard something strange, something mechanical, something irritating. At first, I thought: birds. But it was too regimented to be birds. Birds tend to be noisy, yes, but never noisy in a completely uniform, chirp every 2 seconds from soft to loud to pay-attention-to-me-now way. I got up. Kevin still appeared to be sleeping.

I walked to the window thinking maybe I was wrong. Maybe I was going to see a merry band of mariachi birds out there, serenading us. At 7:30. On a Sunday. I wasn’t entirely sure what I planned to do if I actually discovered mariachi birds, but I was for sure going to give them a stern talking to.

The sound wasn’t coming from outside. Nix the birds. I started toward the living room, made a left at the stairs and thought: could it be the car? I haven’t heard the new car alarm yet so I don’t know what it sounds like but then I thought: if that’s the car, it’s not very effective. Sure, it got me up. But it’s not going to deter anyone trying to steal a huge SUV. Just as I started to turn toward the garage, I stopped. The sound was coming from the kitchen.

I hear things a lot that aren’t there. So does Kevin. I hope this doesn’t make me eligible for a 5150 psych hold. If I said I hear voices, I realize it might. The fact is, sometimes, in the dead of night, when I wake up and I’m a little out of it, and I lay there in the dark, listening for dog-knows what, I could swear I hear the whispers of people out in the backyard, trying to break into Kevin’s studio.  [Bobbi’s on the phone to the police right now calling in that 5150. USC, here I come.]

I get up and pad softly to the window to look out, again not knowing just what act of heroics I’m going to pull in order to chase away said voices, but I do it anyway. There’s never anyone there, and that’s a good thing. I did this the other night and Kevin woke up and asked, reassuringly: “What the hell are you doing?” I told him; he told me it was probably the fan. He was probably right.

Phone on the Porsche in the garage

Both of us have been known to gather in the kitchen for lunch – if two people meeting for lunch can be called a gathering – and one or the other or both of us will stop mid-munch and cock an ear toward the door, asking: “Was that a phone?” Invariably, it was not.

It is not uncommon for Kevin to come in the house from his studio and ask me if the doorbell just rang. It did not.

I often hear, still and wistfully, Maguire as he shifts his weight and his considerable girth on the hardwood floor, the swoosh-slide-thud-clank-sigh as he turned over and lay back down. The clank is his tags. It is obviously and sadly no longer him, but I hear it all the time. I no longer get up from my desk to check on him, or the sound, because I know I’m hearing things. I wonder if I’ll hear him forever.

As you’ve probably deciphered, this morning’s phantom sound was the rescued street phone, the phone we so carefully placed back together in hopes of returning it to its owner. The phone who just yesterday was mangled and in pieces, waiting to be run over by an unfeeling car or worse, SUV. That phone repaid our kindness by setting off its alarm at 7:30 am. Because I was slightly discombobulated, I first tried to answer it. Then I tried to shut it off by hitting the buttons. Remember, there is no display so turning something off when you can’t see the “off” is nearly impossible and difficult at best. But it shut up and I went back to bed.

For 10 minutes.

Then it started again. I hit the power button. 10 minutes later it went off again. I was now wide-awake and did not want to be wide-awake alone. “Tell me you’re hearing that,” I said to my husband making sure to raise my voice above the cacophony emanating from the kitchen. He asked why I couldn’t turn it off. I told him I did. The next time it went off, he got up with it and decided to make coffee. Evidently, he also decided that the best place for the phone was the garage, on top of the Porsche. I know this because 10 minutes later, I was once again, hearing the phone. What I was not hearing was my husband silencing its incessant chirps. Once again, I got up and this time, the sound was indeed coming from the garage. I took the phone from the top of the car, and just kept touching the black screen until it went silent. It has not dared to speak since.

This is what I know. Turning the power off on a traumatized smartphone does not deter it. It is too smart for that. This is also what I know. Phones should not be smarter than people. I am proud to say that I triumphed on the sixth time the phone and I met for combat. Tomorrow, I will be ready.

Because in the realm of the weird, this phone seems to like living it out LOUD.

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