Tuesday, March 4, 2008


              The screams next door were becoming more and more frequent.  And every third or fourth scream was followed by a thud against the adjoining wall.  It sounded like a woman being tortured, but I hadn’t heard any true cries for help.  It was as if my neighbor was wanting this abuse.  I put my ear to the wall and could only hear her shrieks.  No second voice at all.

            I didn’t have a phone in my place at the time, so calling 9-11 required me leaving the safety of my efficiency, walking past her door and running to the pay phone at the deli a block down the street.

            On the way back to my apartment, my heart raced in my chest.  My only thoughts were of some meth addict redneck meeting me in the hallway of my building, screaming at me to mind my own business.  However, I reached my door without any confrontation and left my door cracked while the screaming and pounding continued next door.

            After about 10 minutes, the screaming had stopped.  Her door opened and a large, naked woman sprang out, fell to her knees and muttered to herself.  No words, just numbers and formulas fast as lightning coming from her mouth.  I peeped through the crack of my door to see a couple of flashlights shining over her face and body.

            “Mam?” a husky voice echoed through the hall.

            With that, the tubby woman sprang up off of her knees and ran back into her apartment, slamming the door behind her.  A couple of police officers – one man, one woman – approached her apartment, knocked twice, then entered.  The screaming became worse from inside.  After an audible scuffle, the cops exited with her, still chanting her numerical yammer.  She was in handcuffs and wearing a bathrobe, but the odd formulas kept coming out of her.  I could still hear them after I’d shut my door, while they put her in the car.

            That night, I dreamt that she and I made love in an abattoir.  The sound of dying cattle were only occasionally drowned out by her incessant number crunching.  She screamed a formula as I came on her tits.  Years passed.  We watched out twin boys go off to college, get married, then, years later, die in a car wreck.  I held her in me arms as she lay in her deathbed, which was also in an abattoir.  I don’t know if was the same one as before.  Her final words to me were, “Good-bye.”  It was the first and last actual words she ever said to me.





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