The first morning the loudspeakers roared on at six and continued until nine that night. Distorted wedding music, suitable for a union of a deaf groom and an undead bride, so thunderous that Claude had to lock himself in the bathroom to be able to think. Music so loud that, over the course of the day, a glass crawled to the edge of the table and jumped.
The next morning, the loudspeakers startled him awake at five. Claude fled his room, but within three hours he’d run out of things to do in town. He returned to his room, which continued to shake with overwhelming noise. He didn’t know what to do. He was grateful that, in a climate like this one, it is always correct to take another shower.
As Claude was drying off, the music stopped.
The music stopped and Claude was neither happy nor relieved because the music had stopped many times before. Every time it turned back on again within thirty seconds.
But after a minute the music had not started again and it didn’t start the minute after that either. Claude noticed he was tip-toeing around the room, as though the music were an angry stereophonic beast he might wake up again.
After half an hour Claude realized the music really might not turn back on. Might or might not. For now there was silence. And that silence was not at all the same silence that had been there two days before, when the loudspeakers had first crackled on.
Here now was a lush and textured quiet, a far more luxurious expanse than he ever would have expected from a dusty semi-industrial city like this one. He could have gone on listening to the silence all day and felt that he was making entirely practical and satisfactory use of his time. This was a silence that was not entirely silent. Of course not. Not in a ragged city like this one, with motors, barking, shouts, calls to prayer, and, just now, a cardboard box being dragged down a gravelly street.
Just the same, it was the silence you heard.