Gonna miss Ol’ Bill when I leave Vienna.
When I moved in here at the Sommerhotel Don Bosco I was impressed with how quiet the neighborhood was. It was off the main streets. You just opened the windows and let the breeze flow in. Nighttime was quiet, with the distant sound of the city wafting in as you nodded off to sleep.
Until about 2:00 AM. Because that’s when Ol’ Bill would get started. At first, you know, it kinda got your attention pretty regular.
In fact, you’d sit up in bed like you’d just heard a mass murderer calling your name. Because that’s pretty much what Ol’ Bill sounded like. He’d get going and wind it up, screeching to beat the band with it echoing all up and down the street.
Did I mention that he’d kick off the party at 2:00 AM?
Anyways, he’d kind of calm down after a couple of hours, take a nap maybe, and then give a couple of half-hearted hollers before turning in for the night. Or day, because by now the sun was just a little while from coming up.
Since Ol’ Bill got after it good every night I got to wondering what other folks thought about him. They had their windows open, too. So I moseyed down to the front desk one morning at about five o’clock, seeing as I was up and not going back to sleep anytime soon.
“Say, there,” I said, just as simple as could be.
“Yes, sir?” the nice gal said.
“I got me a question for you.”
“What’s the story with Ol’ Bill?”
“Who is he, sir?”
“He’s the feller who starts caterwauling every night about 2:00 AM, like to wake the whole damn city.”
The girl blinked. “I don’t know who you’re talking about, sir.”
“I kinda think you do, honey. Screeches like a cat done got his tail caught under the rocking chair. Goes off reglar like happy hour. Hollers fit to be tied. Ever single night, and don’t shut up til daybreak.” On cue, Ol’ Bill let out a monstrous howl.
She blinked again. “Oh, him.” She trailed off.
“Yeah,” I said. “Him.”
“Oh, well, he has some emotional issues.”
“You don’t say?”
“But he is harmless, I can assure you.”
“Well, honey, I carry an 8-inch frogsticker that is sharp enough to gut a log, so I ain’t real worried about that part of the math problem. I was just wonderin’, you know, the back story so to speak.”
“The building across from ours is a facility for people who cannot live without assistance due to emotional issues.”
“We in Vienna attempt to integrate people into society rather than exclude them. It creates understanding among all members of society about those who are less fortunate and it normalizes the lives of those with impairments.”
“You know what else it does?”
“What is that, sir?”
“It damn well guarantees you ain’t gettin’ any shut-eye after about two in the morning.”
“I’m sorry, sir. We all must adjust to it.” She didn’t look like the adjustment was goin’ too well because she had bags under her eyes big enough for Santa Claus.
Since I was already up and it was daybreak, I moseyed down to the bakery for a coffee. There was a feller sitting on the corner begging. We looked at each other for a minute and I dropped a buck into his cup.
“Thank you,” he said.
“Don’t mention it,” I said. “Least you ain’t hollerin.'”
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