Friday, March 30, 2007

Screams in the Night

My downstairs neighbor has a stormy relationship with her boyfriend. Often, their arguments rise up through my floor. I usually can't distinguish actual words but it's obvious the conversation has degenerated into a fight. Sometimes I can hear her telling him to get out. There is also lots of door slamming. Last night they were having another fight. Then at about 11:30 she began screaming, not words, just screaming. I was already in bed and this jolted me up. I didn't know if she was being attacked or if she was just letting it all out. So I called 911. And waited. During the next fifteen minutes my neighbor ejected her boyfriend, did some loud crying and then apparently went to bed. The downstairs apartment was now silent. Fifteen minutes after that the cops called. I told them that the fuss was over but they said they would come and check anyway. Would I lookout and let them in? Sure, I said. Then I waited some more. Another 30 minutes in fact. Still no police. I called the precinct to tell them that I was going to bed and the officers should not come. The woman who answered the phone was very cheerful for someone on the graveyard shift in a police precinct. She told me not to worry about it. The call was probably unnecessary but I didn't want the phone ringing again just as I'd gotten to sleep. I suspect the cops got called to something more immediate like a robbery in progress and just forgot all about this little domestic disturbance. What I found more troubling was the long initial gap. In half an hour my neighbor could have been dead. I concluded later that no attack had taken place. She was able to kick him out without a problem. But it might just as easily been more serious. Perhaps if I'd been able to be more positive about her danger the cops might have come sooner. I hope so. I also wondered if I would have intervened if I 'd thought she was in real trouble. I like to think that I would have even though I was a little frightened. We have to take care of each other.

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