The sun’s up already and somehow Noah’s woken this crazy old man with his cane and his daschund. The dog found him first, barking its head into a blur. Now, the old man is sputtering incoherently. The pool of spit draining to the garden gnome seemed, at first, the old man’s, but Noah’s the one sleeping in his doorway, somewhere in Berlin. He doesn’t know where, because his head’s still in the club, the booming hundred decibels, the bass beat making the sound real, like wind blowing in your bones. It’s the electronic pulse, the soaring voice, and the darkness looming under. He let everything go last night: his grad student woes, the archive stoop, the lumbar pain, the spasm of footnotes. Everything started unhinging, pages flying loose from their covers.
It wasn’t long after Noah took it that he could see through the girls’ shirts, so many compliments and then so many high-pitched insults. Then the demons, awoken from the eaves of the old power plant, began to congregate on the transistors, swaying on the cables and charting his progress towards the door. Their ghastly wings opened, he could see their perspective, above the throbbing crowd, lifted by cloud and strobe lights. The demons’ shadows moved above the growing excitement, the DJs promising relief, a break in the music’s rising tension. He pushed his way through the club kids, goths, bears, fetishists, maintenance men, power-plant engineers, then the architects, builders, surveyers. Stone by stone the place came down around him, a landslide of sound, until, click.
He stood out in the cold, the door darkened by the bouncer, a Francis Bacon slotted with piercings and a bearded scowl. Noah swayed to and fro, the lights still bouncing within, the noise faint, retreating, his walk unsteady. He heard a few laughs from the endless shuffle of clubbers waiting in the line stretching far back to the road. His eyes looked for the lit ribbon of the S-Bahn overhead train, with only one thought, as he glanced nervously over his shoulder, sure the demons were about to appear–that he wanted to go home.
So home Noah went.
No, it’s not his grandfather.
Noah stands up, unsteady. He really can’t find his feet, the garden is a pool of green, the lake is washing over them, like the music in the club, everything is sound and water and the angry voice. He is standing, or wading rather, before the spitting man.
Get out! This is my house!
Noah stares, a well of sadness rising up, overflowing with thought. He looks up to the windows.
But the doors close, the reflections from the lake against them. There is no reply.
Get out of here!
He turns, his face wet he realises, the gate passing through him as if it is all imaginary, as if he has never been here. It seems uncanny that this happened to him, to his family. The irony of ending up at this house after a night of delirium seems as much a fiction. Maybe he had come looking, driven by those demons, for something he thought he could find. But he knows now it wasn’t there. The moment he leaves, the house will transform. It will cease to be the home of his ancestors and become but stone and wood and mortar and bricks. The construction has no memory and the people living there cannot share the stories he was told. The moment he steps off the front lawn, he takes the vision with him. Noah thought they were still alive somewhere in that house, but he now knows what it means to be dead.