Monday, April 27, 2009

Help

So last night. Something happened and it's not funny, although I don't know that it's really that serious, either. I don't know anything but this: the middle of nothing. A dream, wading. Screams and yelling, me being pulled from sleep at 2:45am. I woke up and realized it was real, the screaming. It was a man's voice, or a boy, a teenager? He was screaming for help, blood-curdling helpohgodhelpmepleasesomeonehelpme. And then another voice, this one yelling for him to shutthefuckupbitchjustshutthefuckupI'mgoingtokillyou.

We live on a hill behind the high school football field. I've become accustomed to the bravado of seventeen year old boys as they saunter out of shiny SUV's, bumpers kissing no-parking signs. I know the sound of lacrosse games, of grunting, of brass whistles and Americana, the sound of humanity in all of its terrible teenage turmoil. I know shut the fuck up bitch and the mothers who come to watch their sons' games with big boy chrome sippy thermoses of Gatorade. But this, this screaming was gutteral. Was terrified. Was 2:45am on a Sunday night/Monday morning. This screaming was not right.
I wrapped myself in a blanket and stood on our front deck to listen for more. God! Help! and then this: I can't breathe. I can't see. Help! And then the other voice: Fuck you, Bitch, Shut the fuck up you little bitch, over and overandover, we were not getting anywhere. Disembodied voices somewhere down below, on the field or on the street. I didn't know. I scanned the neighborhood but saw no one else, no lights or shadows on decks like mine. I thought about calling 911. Should I call 911? What if it's just some kids screwing around? What if it's nothing? But what if it's not? The boy screaming--it was not right. The apathy of being wrapped in a plush blanket still warm from the couch. I had never called 911 before, but I went inside and grabbed my phone. 911, what's the nature of your emergency? Such a strange question, and I did not know what to say. I stuttered, and explained. Then I got off the phone and yelled as loud as I could I JUST CALLED THE COPS! hoping that I could make them stop, cold water on dogs before the jugular. Bryan came out and told me not to get involved, but I already was. I heard it, even if I don't know what I heard. The Central Park Jogger: I don't want to be an incredulous story told in psych101, the dehumanizing effect of urban life, or, in this case, the animalistic effect of suburban life: separating the weak to protect the herd, me on my deck. How could I just climb back in bed and close the window? And then the voices grew farther away as the boys walked, dragged--? As something happened and I stood on my deck until I saw searchlights from police cars cutting wide swaths against the trees.
I did not sleep. All day I have been scanning online news, but nothing. I called the Sheriff's department who would only confirm that they found the boys; they would not/could not tell me more. And so I am left with this: This is a good town, a good community, a good school system, a good that one searches out to raise a family, to build a life. But the balance of good is never just bad, it is evil. One boy making another boy scream like that. I don't know what happened. I am tired and I do not know the nature of my emergency.

25 comments:

Paloma {La Dolce Vita} said...

Oh my gosh! How scary! I hope you get to the bottom of this soon for your own piece of mind and I hope that no one was seriously injured. How terrible!

Get it Girl said...

I'm usually more of a lurker than a commenter here, but I just wanted to say how awful and weird that feeling is: once when I was nursing my second son at 3 or so in the morning, I heard an awful car crash on the highway right behind our house. It was a terrible, loud, crash of metal, and then complete silence. I called 911 (my husband was out of town, which made it even weirder/scarier) and reported it. They took the info and I saw the cop car driving on the highway, the lights flashing, more cop cars pulling up, an ambulance. Never saw a wreck, even after looking out of all the different windows in our house, though. The next day I looked in the paper and all over the internet at local news sites, and nothing. I still think about it sometimes and wonder what happened... Hope you get some closure, and hope whatever happened that everyone is okay!!

arollerskatingjam said...

You did y\the right thing, and hopefully the kid got the help he needed. I applaud you. Had you not called, you would forever have regretted it. We can't be bystanders when people need help, it isn't right.

Gin said...

I don't know if you're looking for validation, but you did the right thing (I think you know that).

So shines a good deed in a weary world. You did SOMETHING.

Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

Oh my god. I'm so glad you called. I can't imagine being in that boy's shoes, whatever shoes those were, and thinking no one cared enough to call. Not my problem. How awful.

krista said...

FUCK YES GET INVOLVED!!!
i understand the need to protect yourself, your family, not throw the spotlight on yourself.
but i swear on everything i hold sacred...
you did the right thing. the good thing. the human thing.
you were woken up because someone was calling for help.
you. helped.
i wish i could give you a hug right now.

Melissa said...

Susannah,
do you mind if i copy and paste this post (I will credit you) for a research paper i am doing called "does the world suck?" It is focused around Nietzsche, Camus and Auster and I know that sounds pretentious but I had little choice in the matter. It is really about our responsibility to one another in society. What do you think?
Melissa Leffel
ema389@msn.com
or you can friend me on Facebook.
<3
PS--I'm so sorry about this experience--it's a nightmare ripping you out of a dream.

Petunia Face said...

Thank you, everyone :)
Still no word in any media on what happened, if anything. I mean, it HAD to have been something?

And Melissa--of course you can use whatever you want from the post. I'll email you right now.

xo,
S

Vanessa said...

I come from Philadelphia and have had the cops on more than one occasion. It's not only ok to dial 911 when you hear someone in distress, it's your duty. Not getting involved can be the difference between life and death for the person at the other end of the situation. You did the right thing and your actions could have made a big difference, whether you ever find out what happened or not.

Carolyn said...

You absolutely did the RIGHT thing. Good for you!

Courtney said...

You hear all the time about how many people stumble upon situations where they know something is wrong. Or when they even SEE that something is wrong. But they often think someone else will make that call or maybe they are overreacting about what's taking place after all.

Thank you for calling! Because if it was my family member, I would hope someone would rise to that occasion as well. You followed your gut and I also hope you find out what happened!

{lovely little things} said...

Scary! Wow, you did the right thing, but still nerve wracking, glad it turned out okay.

Sherendipity said...

I have a 15 year old son. That could have been him. You could have saved his life.
I thank my lucky stars for people who aren't afraid to get involved.
I applaud you.

coco+kelley said...

i had a similar situation happen to me last year in LA. my roommate (who was a guy) was out of town, so it was just me. and i woke up to sounds of fighting - LOUD fighting. a woman and a man in the apartments next door (the balcony in my bedroom faced the other apartment building). i had NO idea what to do. i figured it was drunk fighting. stupid, nothing, sounded worse than it was fighting. but i stayed wide awake wondering if i should call the cops for a good 20 minutes at least... and then it just stopped. a neighbor had come over to calm them down and had already called the police... thank GOD. but it is one of those weird moments where you actually have to think about getting involved and what that could mean... good for you m'dear.

LiLu said...

You so definitely did the right thing... just the fact that you could tell it was That Kind of Scream, you know, TRULY petrified for one's well-being/life, made calling 911 worth it, even if you never find out what happened. Good for you.

Patti-atti said...

Ooh, that story (and photo) send shivers up my spine. I'm so glad you called - although you don't know what was going on (it's driving me bonkers, so I am SURE you're really on the edge of your seat), at least you know that they did find the boys - which means that you were successful in getting help for the one who was crying out.

It's so great that you did something. I live in a slightly more danger-active (I don't like to say dangerous) area of my town, and I have called the police a few times - a fear of mine is that I could be in a bad situation, calling out, with lots of people hearing and no one doing anything.

I wish we could all have neighbours like you.

Kwana said...

Holy Crap I want to cry. You are so brave and so right so strong. All I could think of were my own town and teen boy or girl and could only hope that someone like you would hear their scream and call for help.

muchmorethanmommy said...

Five years ago I was in an abusive relationship. One night we fought on the way home, and the fight continued in his apartment. He never turned the a/c on (in Florida), so the windows were wide open. He threw things, he threw me. He broke things, he broke me. Then there was a knock at the door -- the police. The fight ended, the relationship ended, and I began.

So I am forever grateful to the unknown neighbors that dialed 911, even though they could've written it off as none of their business.

And I hope that now there is someone who is thankful for the voice that they heard calling, "I JUST CALLED THE COPS!"

I know you don't *need* the affirmation, but you done good.

Anonymous said...

I took a class in college; a class on genocide, on the Holocaust. Before that class, I firmly believed that only monsters could commit horrible, horrible crimes. That class taught me that most of us are only steps away from doing the wrong thing. The Holocaust, I remember my professor telling us (a child of survivors), was not carried out only by evil men and women. The blame does not lie with SS officers and sadistic doctors. The men and women who let their neighbors be dragged off in the middle of the night, who walked by ghettos and camps without a glance; these were the people who made the Holocaust possible. Not because they were evil, but because they simply did not care, or were afraid.
Be strong enough, be brave enough, to care, he told us on the last day of class.

maggie, dammit said...

God this is haunting. I wonder how often this happens, with no one to hear? You did the right thing, absolutely.

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

I'm glad you called.

Patois said...

Thank you for calling. It's always the good choice. I really believe that.

Anonymous said...

I've been that person who needed the help of a stranger.

Thank you for getting involved.

Sometimes it takes the outsider to let the insider know that s/he has to get the fuck out.

Good Enough Woman said...

It's great that you called! Can you believe that so many places in the world don't have 911? I once helped a student in our writing lab who was writing about how 911 dispatchers were her heros because her home country had no such serve. Plus, 911 sends people for kitties stuck in trees and for college students partying too loud, so why hestitate to call when you hear a human screaming a bloodcurdling scream? Regardless of why they are screaming?

Lolo said...

Bryan did what many men do, first impulse was to protect his family, to keep you all out of it. You did what a mommy does, acted to protect someone's child.

In that moment, that long, drawn out, is this really serious? am I really hearing this? moment it natural to second guess and think "oh those kids, I'm blowing this up" I'm glad that you went to the side of caution, just in case. I wish for more people to make sure to make that call, the police don't mind, I assure you. I know a few and this is what they want, for us to be alert and involved enough to ask them to do their jobs.