The audio portion

When I opened the door, there stood Olive, my nearly deaf elderly neighbor who lives alone on the ground floor. "I think my smoke alarm is going off," she said. My own hearing isn't what it used to be. But even with the hearing in my left ear half gone, I could hear the hypersonic squeal, a distant mosquito, from the second floor. It followed us to the elevator. Still audible as we approached her condo it didn't, oddly enough, seem to be growing louder.

Once inside I could still hear it... but still faintly. It was not the smoke detector. So where was it coming from? Some other condo? Somewhere in the neighborhood? A feebly dying appliance? I turned to Olive so that she could read my lips. There it was. The squeal. I moved in closer. It was coming from her hearing aid.

"It's coming from your hearing aid," I shouted. "What?" "I said it's coming from your hearing aid!" She dug it out of her ear, and the feedback bloomed like a sound check at a Grateful Dead concert.

She got it fixed... I'm not sure why. I suppose it's doing her some good. A few days later I was in the lobby talking to the president when Olive came by to get her mail. I was telling Pete that I was going to Walmart to get a Christmas wreath. It was one of those uncanny breakthroughs that the hard-of-hearing have when you're talking low, to somebody else, about something of interest. "Would you mind if I come along?" Olive said. "I'll get my purse."