The brick finally, finally fell out of the wall today.

Some background:

in the shipping/receiving room (which is mostly the shipping room... lots of stuff leaves here, but not much comes back), we have a bare-brick wall. It's a beautiful, old wall, original to the building. Plastered over once, discolored bits of which are still permanently bonded to the stone.


This wall is convex. Severely convex, like the back of a deep spoon, with the more central bricks hanging on only by the tenacious edges of old, curmudgeonly grout. The center brick seemed to defy least until this morning.

As some of you know, I work a lot of late nights; have ever since I started this job last year. I'd been assured that the wall had "been inspected" and was "completely harmless settling" and "not load-bearing", but, fearing collapse, I usually tried to get out of the shipping room as quickly as possible. Especially after I started hearing the tapping.

Everyone thought I was kidding.

But there it was. I didn't hear it all the time, it was very faint, but after hearing it once you really couldn't UNhear it ever again. Tapping, like a small hammer padded with thin leather, right in the center of the wall.

Sure, it was probably pipes. Old building, after all. But when you're at work late and hopped up on ire, you envision someone or something trapped in the featureless, crumbling warehouse next door. Someone or something with the will to tap softly on their prison wall, so intently for so long that the whole world might crumble.

There's construction on the floor above ours, and when they push heavy machinery around it feels like an earthquake. We'd all run to the shipping room door (foolishly... what if the whole wall came down?) and silently cheer for that proboscoid brick to drop. It never did. We'd drift away, more disappointed than we let on, back to our desks.

Everyone wanted me to lay off the tapping joke.

Today, there was all that rumbling downtown. We barely felt the tremors up here, so the Wall and Brick Issue didn't really occur to me; day after a day off is pretty busy after all. But I just took a tape back to the shipping room for FedEx... and there was a hole, deep and black, in the center of the wall. The brick had fallen out.

Joel had taken it right in the head.

I don't hear any more tapping.