Character building cake

I live next door to two drunks.

They are middle aged, with children in their 20’s.

One daughter lives at home and she is 19 years old.

I feel sorry for her and I wonder if she hears what I hear.

I know she isn’t at home on the nights when her parents scream and fight and yell obscenities at each other and out into the night.

The mother is particularly loud and shrill.

She reminds me of a bird because her voice is high pitched and slurred.

Last night she sounded like a crow.

She screams and abuses and yells at her husband and repeats herself over and over again.

She’s a dirty fucking whore!

She’s a slut!

She’s a dirty fucking whore!

He yells at her about pigs asses and how she should leave and that she’s a drunk and oh yeh get fucked, what do you do? What do you do? Nothin’ you do nothin’.

I wish someone would do something.

I lie nervously in my bed and try not to listen. I pull the pillow around my ears, I turn my television on and I pretend not to hear them.

My heart beats faster and I wait for the worst.

I hear something heavy slam against a wall and it sounds like a chair.

There is silence.

I turn down my television and listen for death.

There is silence.

Soon it starts again.

I called the police last night because my children were having trouble sleeping and it was late and my teenager came into my bedroom and asked if I could hear the fighting next door.

We don’t need to hear it, but we have no choice.

Their voices spew out from their open windows and race up and down between the sides of our houses trying to escape over the fence and away.

The police visited their house last night and I heard the father yelling some more about how he didn’t want to go to lock up.

There was silence for some time afterward and then I heard a car drive away.

Soon, the crow started screaming again but she was difficult to understand.

I think she was asking the neighbourhood who had called the police.

Of course, nobody answered.

It makes me sad to hear them and I know there are mental health issues behind those walls though I can’t help but think about how they became these two people who drink themselves into a stupor each week and turn on each other, picking at the pieces of each others hearts with sharp tongues and spitting it all out in venomous salivated words.

It surprises me that they scream and yell and bang about the house with their windows open and don’t seem to be aware of the houses and families around them.

The next day, their house is quiet and it appears they’ve gone to work.

The windows are still open.

I see them occasionally, walking the dog or half heartedly weeding the front garden.

They’re not overly friendly people.

She has dark eyes with yellowing skin. She smokes by the letterbox and walks her dog with a small bag tied around her waist. I know it holds her cigarettes.

He is large and overweight and has yellow eyes and large pores around his reddening nose.

Their lawn is often long and uncared for and it reminds me of a time when my father gave up caring too.

It frightens me to think about what is to arrive in the lives of that family because after you give up caring for your front lawn and your wife, yourself or your children, there isn’t much to care for.

Their fighting reminds me of my abusive yesterdays. It reminds me of the voices of my parents when life was at its worst for us. It reminds me of the promise of drunken mistakes culminating in tragedy.

I wait for the death scream.

It hasn’t arrived yet but one day, it will fall to the floor of their modest family home and it will be too late.

I will be the one listening, the one who calls the police because things have gone silent and nobody else cares.

In the mean time, my sleep is disrupted, my heart strings pull a little harder and my children hear things I’ve worked hard at not surrounding them with.

Life is such a gift and happiness is a greater one. I can’t imagine how two people could be content in such a sad and inflammatory life.

It’s not my business and it’s their life and I don’t want to be a nosy neighbor over the side fence but I wish they’d at least close their windows and lower their voices.

My council rates don’t cover this lifestyle and I can’t afford to move house.

I think about baking them a cake and filling it with care and self esteem.

Instead, I eat the cake and give my children three pieces each.

Just to be safe.

© ryan

Character building cake

PJ Ryan

Melbourne, Australia

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