You name a noise, the guy in the room next to me is making it. It’s 2 am, and he has been at it for the better part of an hour now. In fact, I’d wager good money that the body of the man in room 28 of the Hotel Pratic in Paris is emitting every sound possible outside of actual speech.

It began with a prolonged session of rat-a-tat’s, a queer sound that would start off grouped into two long burbles, then repeat as a short burst, pause for several seconds, then start in again with the double long burbles. At first I thought it was some kind of weird Morse code. Then I realized it was snoring. Oh, great, I thought. He’s going to snore at me all night.

Oh, how I wish he had merely kept it to snoring.

The man in room 28 soon took to harumphing and clearing his throat. He took to sniffling, snorting, and blowing his nose quite triumphantly and repeatedly. He took to wheezing, hacking, and making little strangling sounds, rounded out by a good stiff bout of coughing (which ended with the inevitable hocking of lugies; this popular pas de duex was encored several times throughout the evening). At one point engaged in a single, memorable sneeze that I don’t think the residents of this Paris neighborhood will soon forget.

Then, at a certain point, he grew weary of the nose and throat division and began to explore the whole range of noises that upchucking afforded. First came the wet, squelching streams of vomit, splatting against the aluminum of what I can only assume is an identical copy of the tiny dustbin in my own room. This was followed by a protracted session of systematic, cyclical retching. Almost hypnotic. Almost rhythmic enough to lull me back to sleep. But then he had to go and finish it with a staccato series of irregular dry heaves. And just to be sure I was still awake, he ended with one large, reverberating — and somewhat relieved sounding — belch.

You thought it couldn’t get worse, eh?

To top it all off, running like a melodic theme throughout the freakish aria that has become my evening’s aural torture was his resounding, boisterous, earth-shattering, powerful, positively monumental flatulence. We’re talkin’ the sort of grandiose emission of noxious vapors that wakes up the neighbors (case in point); that registers on the Richter scale; that causes flowers to wilt. When this guy broke wind, it was a meteorological event.

He farted with great fanfare and with wild abandon. Sometimes it was a high pitched, fluttering whine that lingered before lilting up at the end like a question mark, sounding like nothing so much as the mating call of some odd and (thankfully) extinct bird. Sometimes it was an old fashioned Bronx cheer, sputtering along strongly for a good long moment before trailing off smoothly; other times it was an antique locomotive engine letting off steam, whooshing out and hissing angrily. Occasionally it idled: a souped-up motorcycle at a stoplight. The worst was when it started as a low muttering growl in the distance, then crescendoed steeply to roll like a mighty thunder across the landscape, finally to recede and end with a short — pffft—.

Well, all misery must at some point come to an end, and eventually the one-man orchestra in room 28 ran out of orifices with which to create sounds. He drifted off with only the occasional sniffle, cough, or fart to mark his journey into sleep. He didn’t even bother to start snoring again. It was wonderful. It was glorious. I could stand such occasional noises. I could stand the muffled zoom of the odd car out late on rue de Rivoli a block away. I could stand infrequent drip-drip that my room’s sink makes every night no matter how hard I twist the faucets shut. I could even stand the oddly regular creaking of bedsprings that was emanating from the wall on the other side of my bed, coming from room 26.

Oh, no.

And so, the woman in room 26 began her long, slow, loud, and none-too-shy-about-it ascent to orgasm. It was not to be her last of the evening. Her lover must be a stallion. It is a shame I shall have to kill him in the morning.

Copyright © 1999 by Reid Bramblett