Where there’s (no) smoke, there’s (no) fire. Only bleeding ears.

Good grief! Good f**kin’ grief!

Beep. High-pitched beep. Annoying: beep. Relentless beep.

The smoke detector. Just offsides above my bed. On a ceiling so low that my up stretched arm’s a mere 6 inches shy of touching it. I’m 5-2.

Awakened early, I groggily tumble out of bed to temporarily silence the relentless beeping by removing the battery until I go buy a replacement.

But which smoke detector is it?! I try to ascertain half-asleep. There are two, separated by a mere 3 feet and a door between kitchen and bedroom.

Am I dreaming or am I now hearing BOTH detectors beep. Beep. BEEEEPING!

Boom!

Two detectors launch their ear-piercing alarms!

There’s no smoke. No heat. No burner on the nearby stove. Not even a stick of incense!

Why the fuck are not one but now two smoke detectors screeching?! And what can I do to stop it?!?

Moving between two rooms, I stand gingerly atop a tall swivel chair, my substitute ladder, trying to silence them. Just as one quiets temporarily, the other sounds. Sometime both beep. Sometimes both scream.

Now *I’m* about to scream!!

My neighbors must be loving this! Why should I care about disturbing the Noisy Clack & Clomp Couple above after all the months of noise and grief and disruption they’ve brought me??

But I do. I’m too thoughtful. Painfully considerate. And I hate to be a source of trouble or burden to anyone, even those I dislike or want out of my life. Like the neighbors above.

I jump outta my jammies and drive like the dickens to Walgreen’s for two 9-volt batteries. Yow! Expensive! Nearly 8 bucks on sale!

Hastening “home,” I’m relieved to discover no firetrucks in the driveway and no neighbors peering through the windows to view flames.

Both alarms are emitting piercing beeps. Whew.

Then I kid you not, 5 seconds after I walk in, WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!! Both detectors in full-tilt ear-bleeding alarm!

I scramble onto the dangerous swivel chair to replace one battery … then over to the next. Whew! Peace!

Wrong!

Beeeeepppp! Beeeepppp!!!! BEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!

What the?!?!

Guided now by a flashlight illuminating the nigh-invisible + and – symbols inside the detector, I ensure both batteries are correctly and securely positioned. Whew! That should do it. Peace.

Wrong!

BEEEEEEPPPP!!!!!!! BEEEEPPPPPPPPPP!!!! First one, then the other in a Duo of Dissonance to Wake the Dead.

Several times I repeat the dance of Climb Upon the Dangerous Swivel Chair – Remove and Reseat Batteries – Push Reset Buttons. To the same result. Silence. For 10 seconds. Or a minute. Or 5 minutes. Then:

YOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW! One chirping detector triggering the other and then both screaming “fire! fire! fire!”

It’s truly a miracle that no neighbor appears to see what’s burning down — apart from my patience! No firemen in thick padded suits hauling ass and axes to my door either!

I’ve done everything I could possibly do and then some. I finally cave.

I dial my rental company. Don’t even bother with their instructions to submit all maintenance requests online. Last time I did, it took three weeks for a repair of a dripping faucet!

No, wonky whacked-out smoke detectors require immediate action. To my surprise, they respond! “We’ll send someone out right away.”

And they do! Within half an hour, I get a call from Mark. I explain the morning scene, along with leaving a detailed note since I’m on my way out.

“Oh yeah, and I noticed that a red light’s flashing on the detector in the bedroom … but not the one in the kitchen. If that helps.”

“Oh yeah?!” he says, metaphorically sitting up and taking notice. “Yes, that helps a lot.”

Because I’m not here when he arrives, I lose the full explanation and step-by-step education.

But that night, I return “home” to a note. He says he reset the detectors. That it’s been quiet for 20 minutes. But if they start up again to call him and he’ll walk me through a reset.

So I’ve no idea what he did to shut down those mothers, I can only hope that this is the last of the screaming smoke detectors for a good long while! All’s quiet on the Western front.

Okay, I lie. The Clack & Clomp Couple do still reside above me.

Oh were there a reset process to silence them …

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