His words are muffled, indistinct. I turn the lights out and move close to the picture window to try and hear more. I've always been a bit of a nosebag like that, ever since I was ten or eleven, when I would perch by the side of my bed, binoculars in one hand and a pad and pen by my side.
But it's no use. I move the curtain back a sliver and look outside into the cold, impassionate night, searching for this infrared pocket of heat.
I can hear two or three muffled voices, but can't make out what they're saying. I hear the boy trying to speak, but then his words grow even more indistinct, becoming sobs, low, gutteral sobs, and then even those start to fade.
Then I hear the sound of a car starting and then pulling away.
I lie on the bed, cross legged, my computer in front of me. From inside the living room, I hear Ashley snoring loudly, Tiger squirming in his sleep.
And then, another sound, in the hallway. A woman’s voice, clearly on the brink. I lift myself up from the bed and move toward the door.
Her voice becomes more distinct. She sounds as though she’s in her thirties, most likely--not too old, but old enough to no longer have that youthful blush. Clearly intoxicated. There’s another voice, a masculine voice, but I cannot decipher his words.
But I can hear hers. “I don’t care anymore! I don’t care I don’t care I don’t care anymore.” And I can hear her crying, too, and her sobs flow like the tide, like breathing in, breathing out, and then I hear something fall to the floor and smash. A plate? “I’m dying I’m dying I don’t care. What do you want?”
The masculine voice, indecipherable, a low sonorous growl. But she doesn’t give him much of a chance.
“Shut up. I want to be with my kids. They’re my kids and I want you to shut up. You have no clue what kids are about, so just shut up. You, shut up. You know what? I don’t even care. Kill me, kill the kids. You feel so freakin proud about it, then go ahead and do it, just do it, just do it, okay? Dad would be so proud to know that you were a fucking asshole.”
Low tones start to say something. Mumble mumble mumble. “...all those other jackasses...”
“I haven’t BEEN with ANY OTHER jackasses! I haven’t had sex since...since...see, I can’t remember. I can’t even remember. I don’t care. I don’t. So murder my kids! Go ahead! Just...” She starts to sob, hysterically, and there’s that rhythm again, that breathing in, breathing out.
They talk. I can’t hear their words. I imagine them sitting there, probably on the staircase. I wonder whether they are close together. Is he holding her? Is he leaning against the side of the wall, keeping his distance? Is he threatening her?
I think of Josie, and I thank God that we have avoided this.
Her voice rises in volume.
“...I never want to be involved with anyone EVER—I never did anything to anyone ever...I don’t fucking WANT to TRY anymore—I FUCKING HATE YOU ALL, fucking kill me, just kill me don’t ever fucking threaten my kids, you fuck I hate you I hate you I hate you...”
I hear a stumble up a flight of stairs. Her sobs start to fade away. Silence.
Then some more stumbles. I hear her voice, again. It sounds as if she’s alone, talking to herself, close to my door, mumbling about this apartment and she’s not crazy and this is not the way she is and then she moves away from the door and I hear a stumble down a flight of steps and I hear again Ashley’s continuing snore and I remember and I look over to see if the kids are taking this in, but they’re not; they’re still asleep.
I hear a knock. Downstairs. Not on my door. What if it had been my door? How would I have reacted?
My neighbor downstairs. A gentle man. Brown hair, slight squat, thick glasses. I think he’s disabled. I hear him talking to her, whoever she is.
Then her voice, a hysterical stream. “I don’t think he’s a murderer. I don’t know where my car is, I don’t know where he is. You must think I'm crazy, I’m really not crazy, I don’t usually get like this. I don’t think he’s a murderer, I really don’t, I just don’t know, but I don’t know where my car is and—“
“Relax. Keep it down.”
I hear that. Distinctly.
The door clicks shut.