Monday, October 23, 2017
The sounds were muffled through the brick walls, but there was no mistaking what I was hearing: someone was in imminent danger. I ran outside and heard a man’s voice bellowing as loudly as his windpipe would allow.
“YOU FUCKING IDIOT. YOU FUCKING INCONSIDERATE CUNT. YOU STAY WHERE YOU ARE. NO! NO! FUCKING SIT DOWN! FUCKING IDIOT!”
Another voice, weak but defiant, spoke up between the outbursts only to be yelled over again.
My neighbour, a kindly old lady in her 90s, was arguing with her son. She used to give as good as she got, but dementia has made these confrontations more one-sided over the years. And frequent.
Lately, it’s been hard to tell if he’s actually looking after her – he’s assured me (and I’ve seen and heard enough evidence to suggest) that’s what he is doing. But the verbal abuse happens almost nightly.
One time, an ambulance was called to the house because she’d fallen and broken her hip. That’s what all the screaming and yelling was about. It was hard not to contemplate something far worse, though.
He is quick to violent outbursts, which he once directed at me personally because I had the temerity to ask him to turn down the hardcore gangsta rap that he was playing at full volume towards my kids’ bedroom window at 1am. He seems dull-witted, but not so dull to be blind to how he comes across. He says it’s the result of PTSD, which I don’t really have a choice but to believe.
He’s of a slim frame. Athletic. Everything about him seems to have been left out in the sun for too long. Almost like Brad Pitt’s version of Tyler Durden, but aged 30 years. I could take him in a pinch. Or I could call the police and report him to a government agency – that would solve everything, right? But what would that accomplish?
I have the safety of my two small children to consider. There is also the welfare of a 90+ year-old lady who very likely wants to see out her days in her family home and will be left without a carer. She wouldn’t last a year in a home. And as much as I would never be caught dead addressing my mother as this son does, I have to consider that this might be normal for some Western families (I mean, even the neighbour from the other side isn’t sure).
That’s why I’m simply keeping a watchful eye… but there are other voices gnawing at me; the voices that would say I’m not doing enough, the voices that would say that doing nothing makes me part of the problem…
Hollywood actors like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are getting much the same criticism for not taking action over Harvey Weinstein to protect their female co-stars, which to me is kind of unfair. I’ll finish by paraphrasing an interview I heard from another leading actor: “When I go to work, I have to “stand here’, “wear this”, “look here”, “say this”, “louder”, “with more feeling”, “now hold your arm at this angle while doing it”, and “smile”. Does that sound like a person who’s in charge?”
Maybe I’m over-thinking it.