Bert was all settled in his yellow armchair, ready to read his newest book, 'A Pigeon In Scarlet'. Before he started reading, however, he wanted to be sure his roommate Ernie wasn't going to bother him. Again.

"Ernie!" he called, "Ernie, could you come here a minute?"

He looked around his chair to see if Ernie was coming. Not seeing him, Bert decided to try again. He turned back around yelling, "Ern-AAA!" jumping when he found Ernie right next to him.

"Yes Bert?" Ernie asked calmly as Bert gasped for breath.

"D..Don't DO that!" Bert panted. He shook himself before continuing, "I know this never really helps me, but I've got this new book, see, and I wanted to ask you if you could please, not, bother, me." he said, stressing the last few words and staring intently.

"Oh sure thing ol' buddy." Ernie answered immediately, "You just sit right here, and I will not bother you, at all." He patted Bert's arm assuringly.

"Thank you." Bert said, still uneasy.

"You're welcome." Ernie smiled, and continued to stand there.

Bert opened the book and began scanning the first page. Ernie looked over his shoulder. Bert tried to concentrate, but found it exceedingly difficult. After a few seconds he spoke up.

"Um, Ernie.." he said quietly.

"Yes Bert?" Ernie questioned.

"You're bothering me!" Bert shouted. Ernie jumped a little.

"Oh, well-well sorry Bert. I-I wasn't trying to, I was just standing here, uh.." he tried.

"Yes, I know." Bert sighed, "And I can't concentrate if you're standing there reading over my shoulder!"

Ernie looked stunned.

"Well goodness, Bert, why didn't you say so?" he demanded, "Tell ya what: I'll go into the other room. That way I can't distract you."

He wandered off.

"Ok now Bert?" he called.

"Yes, Ernie, it's fine.." Bert called back, and returned to his book, shaking his head. He'd just barely turned the page, however, when a rhythmic thumping, banging and crashing started up in the other room.

Ernie was playing the drums!

Bert raised his head and stared at the wall disbelievingly for a second, then tilted back and roared, "Erniiiie!!"

The drums kept playing, making things rattle and the walls vibrate.

"ERNIIIIE!!"

The drums thumped to a stop and Ernie walked into the room.

"ERNIIIIE!!" Bert called again.

"Yes Bert?

"AAAAH!" Bert again jumped to find Ernie directly beside him. "I told you not to do that!" he wheezed, "Oh whatever, that's not the point. Ernie, I can't read if you're playing those loud drums!" he explained clearly.

Ernie gasped.

"Oh, sorry Bert. I won't play them anymore, no sir." he promised.

"Good." Bert nodded curtly, "Now please, go find something else to do."

"Nooo problem Bert ol' buddy. You just sit right there and read your book. There will be no more loud music." Ernie turned and left the room again.

Mumbling, Bert turned his attention back to his story. Before he could get very far though, another sort of thumping distracted him from his reading. Just loud enough to be irritating, the sound went 'thump..thump..thump..', and Ernie could be heard counting, 'One and two and one and two and..'

"He's exercising.." Bert noted to the surrounding air, "Well, that's not too bad I suppose. Maybe-maybe I can ignore him." He buried his head inside his book, attempting to drown out the noise.

He lasted about five seconds.

"Erniiiie!" Bert called yet again. This time Ernie halted immediately and came to Bert's side.

"What? What is it Bert?" Ernie asked.

"Ok, I know you are trying to be quiet, but all this thumping, all this banging and whatnot, it's just too loud! Could you maybe find something less, I don't know, energetic to do?" Bert pleaded.

"Oh, sure thing," Ernie assured, "I was just thinking about a nice snack. Exercising makes me a bit hungry."

"Alright, yes, that should be fine, go get a snack." Bert told him, and Ernie meandered into the kitchen. Bert was just about to look back at the pages of his book when-

CRUNCH! Munch munch munch munch.

CRUNCH! Munch munch munch munch.

Bert once more stared disbelievingly into space. Snapping out of it he called, "Ernie! Ernie what-what are you eating in there?"

Ernie walked back out into the living room.

"I-I was just eating an apple, Bert. It's a nice healthy snack." He explained, holding it up.

"Yes well it is also a very distracting snack. I can't read with all that crunching! Don't we have anything else?" Bert inquired.

"W-well I uh, think we've got some celery back there in the fridge, um.." Ernie offered.

"Oh, never mind." Bert whimpered, "Just-just finish your apple and go do something quiet. Please!"

"Ok Bert." Ernie answered simply, and proceeded to quickly and noisily polish off his apple. Bert watched, transfixed at the speed Ernie ate. Quite soon Ernie held only the core.

"Alrighty, now, we just put you in the trash can.." Ernie told the apple core as he placed it in said bin, "and we're ready to be quiet! Say, Bert, how 'bout a nice nap? Is that quiet enough for you?"

Bert heaved a sigh of relief.

"Aw, yes Ernie, a nap should be perfect!" he said, pleased, and leaning back in his armchair.

"Great." Ernie said as he walked over to the other armchair, "Then I'll just sleep here, and you can read your book in peace."

With that he plopped himself down on the chair, settled, and fell almost instantly into slumber. Sighing happily, Bert once more turned to his unread novel. But it didn't last long.

"ZZZZZZZZ!"

The poor star-crossed reader looked up in anguish,

"ZZZZZZZZ!"

Now annoyed beyond measure, Bert turned to Ernie.

"Ernie! Ernie wake up!" he demanded, and got up and walked over to him. Slapping his shoulder repeatedly he ordered, "Come on now, get up Ernie, come on! Gosh darn it Ernie wake up!"

Slowly, Ernie stirred.

"Huh? Hu-what..?" he asked blearily. He then saw Bert glaring at him and started. "Oh no!" he gasped, "Oh no, was I sleeping too loud for you Bert?"

Bert put a hand over his eyes.

"No Ernie, you weren't sleeping too loud, you can't sleep too loud…" he mumbled, then stared directly into Ernie's eyes. "You were snoring! Really loudly!"

Ernie looked down.

"Oh gee, well uh.." he said meekly, fiddling with his hands, "Y-you know I can't really do much about that.."

Bert tried to calm himself with another deep breath.

"Alright Ernie, yes, I know you have no control over your snoring. And I'm sorry I yelled it's just that, well, I've been trying to be patient but everything you do is just too loud and distracting. It's very frustrating!" Bert tried explaining.

Ernie nodded understandingly.

"Yeah well uh.." he wondered, scratching his head in thought, "What can I do that's unenergetic, quiet, and won't bother you..?"

He pondered for a second, and then his face lit up with a mighty 'Ding!'

"I've got it!" he exclaimed, "Bert! Why don't I just read a book too? Then we'll both be quiet!"

Bert considered.

"Y'know, it's so crazy it just might work..!" he stated at last.

"Wonderful!" Ernie beamed, "Ok then, you stay here and read your book. I'll go get one from the other room."

He marched away once more.

Feeling much better, Bert settled back into his chair. Cautiously he began reading. Then suddenly he stopped and turned in the direction of the next room. Satisfied when nothing happened, he turned back to his book. He read an entire page and began to relax. Another page and he relaxed fully. Finally he felt at ease.

Then suddenly Ernie stampeded back into the room.

"Bert! Oh Bert!" he yelled as he entered.

"AAAAAAAH!!" Bert shrieked.

Not even noticing, Ernie continued, "Bert, it's so wonderful! I was looking all over the room for a book when I opened the dresser drawer see, and inside you'll never guess Bert-!" he rambled.

"Oh Erniiiie!" Bert wailed. He stood, turned, and ran screaming from the apartment.

Confused, Ernie put a hand to his mouth, and raised the other as if to stop Bert, but Bert was already gone.

"Gee," he told the walls, "I only wanted to tell him about the earplugs I found.."