Things that go boom in the night

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The screaming that woke me came from across the apartment complex. Unmistakeably domestic. It was the couple that leave their one-bedroom apartment for food and alcohol only. Unemployed, both. I think she might be on house arrest. He worked nights. They were obviously sick of spending so much time together.

Soundtrack that night went something like this: First he'd swipe at her, then she started a crescendo yell he punctuated with jabs. Fists struck flesh. He threw the cat. She yowled that he killed it. He threw her. I did not know these people. Were it not for the cat, I would have groped for the ear plugs and savored four more hours of sweet slumber. But I liked the cat. Concern for its fate sent an adrenaline rush through me with the power of a dozen espresso shots. I lay awake listening to them destroy each other in stereo as raging winds beat waves of nastiness against my windows.
Amid the verbal sewage spill, I envisioned the cat lying in a furry heap.
I got up.
Painfully relinquishing the covers, I stumbled blindly for the phone, squinted and punched "0" for operator. Operator said wait for the sheriff's office. I was transferred. Sheriff's office said we cannot help you, hang up and call the police. I am a reporter and know the number by heart, but it was dark and I was sleepy. The pair next door had quieted down some. I peeked outside - no fury heap. No cat at all. In the absence of plaintive meows, I ditched the phone and went back to sleep. Had my neighbors not resumed their deathmatch, I might have allowed the sheriff's office to escape on the coattails of my guilt about giving up.

The dispatcher gave me a hard time when I called, but who was I to go back to sleep? Police are busy. It takes a while to get through. People are shooting one another, plowing into Stop signs, seducing five year-olds. Domestic troubles are so small. Until they come slamming onto the driveway beside your window, bleeding in the moonlight. That's what my neighbor did. I couldn't see her exactly-- but from the gasping narrative she offered to the stars I determined she had been smacked against something sharp enough to draw blood. It was too much for me to see at 4 a.m. I called the sheriff's office back.

Songs in the key of life

Things that go boom in the night

Sweet Appalachia

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