IT WAS MIDNIGHT. Louella raced from her Guilford condo to her rental house in Patterson Park, next door to her parents. This had better not happen again, she fumed. I dont know who Im madder at, that brat kid with his rap music or my parents for being wimps! She squeezed her dark green Miata into a space a block away and walked toward her house. Even with its windows closed she could hear the music. What in the world is that kid thinking? If hes not deaf now, hes gonna be soon! She mounted the marble steps and rang the doorbell. No response. Oh great, he cant hear the bell because of the music! And hes got no phone so I cant call him from next door. Where the H is his mother at this time of night? Her father joined her. Aint it the worst thing you ever heard? Its driving me up the wall! See. you cant even get him to hear the bell! I figured that! So why dont you just use your key and go on in? I dont know, Dad. Its probably against the law to just walk right in like that, without any warning. Well, just what do you propose then? Are his rights more important than ours? Hes keeping the whole block awake. He oughtta be arrested, thats what-- What would you prefer, calling the cops on him or seeing me get arrested? Louella asked stiffly. Hey, even if you called the cops chances are itd take a couple hours for them to get here. Its not a violent crime or nothin, plus its a Saturday night. So just go on in. Sat theres a plumbing problem or somethin. Just get him to shut down that noise. Louella saw the wisdom of his advice. The noise was making her feel light-headed, like the rhythm was taking over her body. She fumbled in her purse, found the key, and opened the door. Anybody there? she called. Her father followed behind her as she entered, and for the first time in ages she didnt mind his interference. She was scared of what she might find. There was no one in the sparsely furnished tidy front room, but all the lights were blazing. The whole first floor was empty. Gingerly, Louella and her father ascended the stairs as the beat grew louder. The sound was coming from the front bedroom. The door was open. They went in. There on a double bed was sprawled the body of the 14-year-old. Oh my God, is he dead? thought Louella. She approached and saw he was breathing. My God, hes sleeping through all this noise! She turned off the stereo and the house felt suddenly still. The boy shifted a little, then sat up. Whats goin on, Miss Lou? he gasped, looking at them fearfully. Your noise was upsetting the neighbors, Ben. I couldnt get you to answer the door, so I had to come in to see if you were all right. Well, gee, Im really sorry, sir, he said to Louellas father. I know that must have bothered you all. You got that right, Mr. Pryzbylewski growled, his anger defused by the boys politeness. Wheres your Mom? Shes working. She works two jobs. So Im here alone a lot, but my Mom doesnt want me having any friends over. The music keeps me company, keeps me from getting scared, know what I mean?