Roger came to my attention when I began to hear his footsteps somewhere beyond my bedroom’s ceiling. Some days, he’ll walk slowly; even steps that hesitates on deciding where it should go. Other times, he’d run around from one side of the room to the next, and off to the other side of the building in confident strides, but still unsure of his destination.
His steps are more prominent at night especially whenever I slowly enter into a state of near unconsciousness. When Roger enters the building, he makes his presence known. His steps should have been light, but the domineering bam-bam-bam of his footsteps above me forces me to direct all attention from sleep and to him instead. Some nights, he’ll respect the nocturnal norm and stay quiet as he walks across the building. Other nights, he’ll just run around—probably from agitation—demanding the attention he didn’t know he was getting.
Roger was annoying, but the longer he stayed in the building, the more I got used to him. Whenever his shuffles and scuttles came about, I recognised his existence with nonchalance. I’d acknowledge him and carry on with my business.
One early morning, Roger’s footsteps was accompanied by another, which worried me. There was excitement to the way they moved about the threshold: loud and quick, as if Roger had instruct his companion that this is what they should do the whole night in order to annoy the people downstairs. The two ran together, both going towards a direction they knew not. When one stopped, the other would continue with its strides; when they ran together, the steps I heard was jovial and represents their freedom. The sound of their steps was akin to tap-dancing, and for all I know, they probably were tap-dancing.
I went to my lodgers’ (I say lodgers, I meant my parents) and said to them wearily, “There are two of them up there.”
They shrugged responsively, and Dad said something about calling the rightful people tomorrow to settle them for making so much noise. Dad did, and since then, Roger’s footsteps was less present, and I heard nothing of the lady he brought with him that night. When once he walked around aimlessly, some nights he doesn’t make any sound at all. Other times, after a long period of absence, his presence could be felt upstairs with the familiar tap-tap-tap, and he’ll start walking around in what I imagine was confusion: unsure whether this building is his home anymore.
Eventually, discussions of Roger stopped in the household because we no longer heard from him, which left us to assume that he has left the building in no way Elvis did. Not with a bang, not with screaming fans outside, and not even telling us he’s gone. Roger has moved on, and so we did too, so we talked no more of him.
“Well,” Dad told me via text, “They found Roger.”
Huh, excuse me, what? This sounds like an opening to a bad episode of CSI (which is to say, all of them.)
“What do you mean?” I replied.
“The found Roger,” Dad repeated, “Well… they found two Rogers. Above your room.”
“They found, um, Rogers, dead,” he explained.
“Oh shit,” I said, baffled, “Oh my god! They were lovers!”
“Unlikely.They found them far apart from each other. Both poisoned!”
“This is like modern day Romeo and Juliet! We forbade them to love each other because they were always so noisy, and now look at them! Both nothing but carcasses and poisoned to boot!”
Dad told me to stop exaggerating, but I couldn’t. Roger has found a special place in my heart even if I’ve never seen him nor his lover before. The thought of him dead irks me, especially with the close proximity of his dead body and my living one. I didn’t know Roger, and I have no idea what he looked like, but he had become something of a constant to me. The familiar steps I heard above me was nothing but a reassurance that I am home, and I have to deal with this fucker above me just like any other night.
I couldn’t help but feel responsible. All those groggy mornings from running low on sleep because of the incessant noises above me which led to continuos complaints and resulted in complaining to rightful authorities. And now Roger and his tap-dancing partner are dead.
“How could we have done this to them?” I asked, “How could we have been so cruel?”
“Well… I’m glad they’re dead,” Dad replied, “If they had mated, we would have to deal more than two rats.”