And that night the head projectionist had an all-nighter planned with two technicians to try to get the issue solved. They were going to start after the final show, around midnight.
It was in the in between time, between the second to last show and the last that Ross was trying to clean and it was in the way the noise was driving, barreling into his head that he decided he couldn’t put up with it anymore; but he had to go and do something about it, or to put it more accurately he had to see what it was, see it for himself so he said it aloud: “I can’t stand this shit—” to Hermela who was working with him again and she didn’t say anything, but only looked at him askance.
He threw his broom to the floor, the dustpan still standing upright, ibis-like, and headed down the stairs, headed for the screen.
“What are you going to do?” she said finally.
“Going to see what’s making that noise,” he fired back, and he felt angry.
He got to the railing. The railing that separates the screen from the row closest to it in the front. Jumped the rail.
He got to the second railing. Climbed it, one leg after the other, there being a drop from here to the ground about fifteen feet.
He jumped it—down.
“What are you doing?” he heard her say.
He didn’t reply. He approached the screen—it was raised off the ground—ducked under it. The noise. It was louder here. No comparison. The rattling, the crashing, the overwhelming dissonant vibration that was nothing like white noise, no, nothing like a relaxing sound one would put on to study, to sleep to… On the contrary it was purely intolerable. He was on the other side now. He craned his neck—up.
The shakers, the tweeters, they were up there, in long rows, hundreds of them, and they were visibly shaking, rattling metallically, bouncing in and out from whatever they were adjoined to, clearly loose, clearly off, wrong, and as Ross realized this…as it sunk in, they began to fall, he saw one pop right out and it fell toward him in his direction and before he could move (because he just stood there, stunned, thinking How can this be falling on me? How can it be about to—) it hit him, smacking into his shoulder hard and as he brought his hands up to protect his head he recognized that more were falling; more were popping out and with his head down he pictured the image of it, of the hundreds of shakers he had seen and how they were dropping, hitting him now, landing on his hands, his skull, repeatedly, and at that moment—
The screen is six stories high, Ross thought to himself.
The screen is six stories high.
Two of them clunked into his head, one after another, dropping him to his knees.
The screen is six stories.
Into the back of his head then (right where the soft part of a baby’s skull is, he remembered he had learned as a child) and again and again and all along making that vibration sound, because it didn’t stop, but into his ears and bloodying the side of his head his hair one tore a piece of his ear away and he thought of an image he had seen online recently, how it had been making the rounds because everyone was pointing it out…everyone was talking about it and it was of something the artist Travis Scott had done for Kylie Jenner for her birthday, just for her birthday how he filled her mansion with roses. Ross saw those roses knee deep everywhere from the entrance all the way to the stairs and how you could dive in them and he kept getting pummeled but he thought of the video, of Kylie how she opened the door on this scene and it was supposed to be beauty, it was supposed to be beauty in every direction and affection and wading through the roses like through blood but the tweeters smashed into him and in the corner of the video you could see their child, you could see their baby just for a split second and she was jumping up out of the roses, tossing the petals into the air exuberantly, exultingly, to let them float back down before the camera shunted right but people jumping out of the roses and how many thousands of dollars it might have cost and where the roses came from and where the roses would go to subsequently.