It would have helped if I knew who the guy over the radio was. I still hadn't figured out what type of radio this was, nor could I tell whether the channel was on the AM or FM band- I just saw the arrow next to 100 and had no proof that this channel was meticulously local, or just an obscure New York public radio broadcast. But I knew that at some point I would at least have to find out if this had something to do with our building, and the sooner I found out, the sooner I could get the name of the static voice and what he was talking about. My stool scraped the wooden floor as I pushed myself from my desk, and I saw the Twin Towers for an instant, and Broadway stretching down towards them. I stood and walked out of my apartment, still in my slippers, and shamelessly knocked on my neighbor's door. I had never seen my neighbor, and perhaps because I knew that this was the worst time I could think of meeting him that I was not afraid of waking anyone. At any rate, I had an alibi in case that happened- somewhere music was playing, and it was quite loudÖ.
I didn't have to worry about that. A young woman in a fluffy, colorful bathrobe opened the door. She was still drying her hair, and didn't seem surprised to see me. "I'm sorry," she began, waving the back of her hand, and lowering her voice in an inflected way, the way that the masculine language had of doing when regressing to the sarcasm that is the only polite way of speaking, "was the music on too loud? I really have a thing for Fionna Apple."
I stood bemused for a moment and smelled her shampoo. For some reason I began leaning back on my heels. "Um, no, actually, I was wondering about something else."
She looked at me, opening her mouth and narrowing her eyes in that way that people have when they are waiting for more information while refusing to acknowledge that the person they are speaking to has said something awkward. "Well, um, would you like to come in?" That knitting of eyebrows, questioning shake of the head that was a wide-eyed mannerism was such an indelible accessory to this language that I felt charmed. I smiled and stepped in. The music really was quite loud, but I didn't mind it, and actually liked it. "I know you live next door," she continued as she continued to dry her hair, "I see you around a lot. Are you a student here?"
"Oh yeah? What are you studying?"
"Computer science and linguistics."
"Wow, that must be tough. I went in as a computer science major, then transferred to biology."
"I'm sorry, it's really late," I almost begged, "the reason I bothered you is because of this radio program I keep hearing. I just want to see if you get the same thing on your transmitter."
She looked at me, straining her eyes as though she were painfully trying to remember something. "Well, sureÖ you can take a look."
I found awkwardness in other people annoying and absolutely intolerable. She seemed put ill at ease by the fact that I had asked to hear her radio box, the one that was generic and identical, stuck to a wall in every room here (no Orwellian references, I swear). She turned it on, and, a little unsure of herself, motioned for me to find the channel that I needed. I walked over and stood next to her, for a moment feeling distracted by the scent of whatever shampoo she had just used, fresh out of the shower. I also noted drowsily that she was exhuming the same freshness that every commercial had stylized to perfection and so advertised not the product but the freshness which could be attained by it.
A few seconds and I had derailed back upon a familiar wavelength with a fuzzy voice whose words came together not semantically, but somehow musically. It produced exactly one of those lapses of unrealistic memory, because it was so dark outside but being in the city not void of multipally reoccurring windows which reoccurred in memory and in time, bringing back other windows, other languages, a courtyard just like the one I was looking at somewhere, and another one in Prague. Meanwhile another image behind it was waiting to take effect as though in a stack of recursive functions. But that was an image that had never actually been, of windows merely based on the ones I was looking at, reconstructed almost as perfectly as in a dream, but not quite so. At least that was what the voice on the radio was describing it as.
"Do you listen to this guy?" I asked the woman enthusiastically.
"Not really. I think that's some public access channel. I mean, this radio only catches three or four channels, even though it's got a dial. That's why I never use it. I brought my own when I moved in."
I nodded absently, listening instead to what the radio box was saying. I wondered to myself why the fact that every room had one of these beige boxes puzzled me so much, seeming so familiar and so out of place at the same time. I wondered so deeply that I forgot that there could have possibly been a secondary reason for me to be there, a reason I felt too lazy and reluctant to assume. The woman had obviously been bored before I came in, and looked as though she had plans for tonight which had been broken; at least that was the only way I had to explain her physical restlessness, and her anxiety of speech.
"Would you like a cup of something to drink?" she finally asked. I turned my head abruptly to look at her and felt disgusted with myself.
"No," I said, trying to smile, "I really have to work on a paper. Maybe some other time."
That bit was enough for now, I decided as I reexamined the box in my own room again. I had other evidence of the radio in this sense, each one recalling one of those windows into the plane that consisted of ether. I felt if I collected enough pieces of evidence, they would construct a linear model of time that I could use to traverse and get to that material, that stuff that either I or someone else had written, but that was inaccessible to me.