Avoidance is impossible. The hum. The unremitting hum. That merciless mechanical murmur. Fills the ears. Fills the senses. Fills the air: Is the air. This morning a suburban silence washed my ears. The solace of stillness warmed my senses. Here: where two foot tall Schutzstaffel black letters plastered on Khmer rouge walls scream ‘Silent Zone’; a perpetual hum grumbles. A draining droning drill trepanning the temple.
We knew to keep quiet. If ever uncertain, triangular blocks an inch or so high rested around reception reminding us: ‘Please Be Quiet’. A polite plain appeal in a peaceful unpretentious place. In those distant days when we decamped directives were gentle. Manners managed. Dignity defined. Instinct informed. We’d scuttle to our shelf. Soft shoe shuffling to the world of Scooby-Doo. Around the main display— turn right— towards the low tables. Third shelf. Squeaking plimsolls pounding parquet in the sprint for first. Nothing: ‘She’ might hear you.
Here the harbinger hum is accompanied by a low biting breeze. The kind that eats kidneys. A waft to wither eyes. If it stops, a rasp of zippers scratch the ether. Fleeces flash from shoulders to the backs of chairs. Static crackles from pullovers drawn over heads. The maelstrom resurrects the mistral. Thrum revived. Jackets and jumpers return. That wall of black and red of red and black silently screaming: Silent zone.