The Sound of Silence: Is It All That Welcome?

Not all noise is bad noise.

Illustration by Mike Carina
I stood on the front stoop, looking left and right. A sneaker dangled from each hand. All was quiet. Too quiet.

Lawn mowers, blowers and circular saws were silenced. The bouncing echo of the basketball faded. The Sunday sun was about to call it a day. My unseen neighbors were enjoying the suburban quiet.

Summoning the courage to shatter the stillness, I stretched out my arms, paused briefly for dramatic effect, and then clapped my sneakers together.

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As the sound reverberated through the neighborhood, a day’s worth of dirt trickled to the ground. Treads returned soil to its source in brittle, zigzagged shapes.

Both heels stubbornly retained earthen souvenirs. I stretched out my arms again.


Dirt crumbled away. A large patch of mud, dried into a partial relic of outdoor play, fell to the ground. One more WHACK for good measure. It echoed in the stillness.

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Suddenly, a police siren sounded in the distance. I ran inside and slammed the door behind me. All was quiet. Too quiet.

My heart jumped at the heavy rap at the door. I opened it a crack. “Yes, officer?”

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“Sir, we received a call about a noise violation.”

“I don’t know anything about that, officer. All’s quiet here.”

The officer held a fossilized footprint in his hands. “Sir, is this yours?”

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Sneakers at my side, I shrugged and pleaded for sympathy. He would have none of it. Barefoot, I was handcuffed and led past gawking neighbors to the back of the police cruiser.

As we drove to the precinct, I gazed out the window and watched clouds cover the sky. It began to rain.

Parents called out to kids, hurrying them inside in a frantic bid to protect lawn and living room. Brightly colored Crocs, incapable of collecting a day’s worth of play, were kicked off at the door.

Such a sad shoe, I lamented. A child could conquer the world, yet hardly a trace of the glorious day would return home.

The cruiser continued through town. We passed a soccer match. Lots of muddy cleats there. Then I saw the artificial turf, and my smile faded.

We pulled up to the station just as the soft rain turned into a downpour. The officer led me across the puddle-filled parking lot to the entrance. He looked down at my grubby feet and gestured to the welcome mat.

“Wipe your feet, son.”

MLT contributor Michael T. Dolan lives in West Chester. To see more of his work, visit

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