The bather dried off with a towel, though his long sighs bouncing around the bathroom could have easily dried him on their own. He at least had the peace of his own, uniquely quiet breaths. The fact that he never bothered to bang on the walls, yell, or complain to his brain-dead landlord gave him some contentment. If anything, his silence in the mad zoo proved he had some fortitude.
He didn’t know why the landlord let so many wild and abused creatures live in the units against the tor of strict rules. He only knew they never vented in the yard. They preferred to howl and bark indoors where the walls and neighbors would absorb some of their angst. The bather called it “ping,” the annoying phenomenon of the animal sounds bumping off one another, seemingly taking shifts to pummel the ears of the tenants. He could never tell if one beast truly provoked a response from another; the ululations came too randomly. In a world where God never listened, they made sure every human did.
They shrieked and squawked as one would expect from such abusive confinement. As the bather dressed, he heard them scratch the walls and even collide with the ceiling somehow. Today he heard their yips and whines and their fornicating thumps. What more could the animals do in rooms no bigger than cubicles?
They kept up the racket, never hushing as the bather left his apartment and walked past the tenants’ doors. No urban neighbor felt consideration or embarrassment anymore. People would just move out in short time anyway. They forgot about their sins and their faceless neighbors like the dead bodies listed on the news.
The bather slinked down the stairs, hoping the same amnesia would spread to him in a few months. He would move out then, and until then he’d maintain his righteous burden of silence. He only complained by rolling his eyes at no one, even though the monsters next door certainly deserved to hear a few barks bounced back to them.
On his way outside, he saw again the NO PETS sign on the front door. The tenants had found their wicked and selfish workarounds as usual, however. It mostly involved violating every rule as loudly as possible several months before moving day. The idiot landlord took in every lonely psych patient who could write him a damage deposit check. Thus, the bather walked outside with the caws and bowwows of the perpetual zoo continuing their cycle behind him. Today, he heard what he could only describe as a monkey jumping across someone’s kitchenette while cackling.
The bather, however, smiled one long smile for all of them—and not solely because he would soon escape their maddened stomps and howls for good. He smiled because at least one of their brethren would get to live in the countryside. Fleeing the city simply had to tip the scales of mankind back to sanity even if just a little. While all of the animals surely wanted to escape as well, they simply lacked the fur, feathers, claws, or will to survive outside of the all-providing city. The bather, as human as the rest of those howling and screeching tenants, lacked most of those things too. The country would have to take him anyway.