The Voice Emanates from the Next Room

Listening in a hotel

The voice emanates from the next room, the one behind the bed’s headboard. This is the Sheraton in downtown Los Angeles. I’m in a room on the 12th floor, toward the end of the corridor. It’s shortly after dinner, maybe 9pm. Through the thick wall, someone is talking. Quiet as this voice is, it stands out — from the HVAC drone, from the routine rising and falling of the service elevator, from the traffic far below. It’s evidently a voice, even if it’s muffled far beyond comprehension. The pace and volume are steady. I assume it’s a man, because the tone seems on the low end — I’d guess it’s a newscaster, except that he’s been speaking too long without anything to suggest a commercial break. There’s no interlocutor, so I surmise that he’s on the phone. All there is is this sound, this low-end murmur, the shape of a voice, saying nothing. The mental image is of a single hand moving slowly from behind a thick, almost opaque scrim of plastic.

Background: I briefly employed Tumblr to maintain a collection of observations of sound in everyday life, and then decided not to pursue the project; I decided if I were to do such a thing, I’d just make it part of Most of the material was, indeed, re-collated into various entries here at, but this one lingered on the Tumblr page. I’m fond of it, and decided to add it here, for archival purposes.

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