• matt smith

The Neighbors

I would hear it every night, usually around the same time between two and three in the morning, after the bars closed in the piece-of-shit town in which I lived.

“No! Stop! Please! I love you!”

“You goddamn bitch! You goddamn whore!”

“But I love you! Please!”

“You goddamn bitch! You goddamn whore!”

They lived in the apartment below me, but mostly they were ghosts.

There was a kid about 8 years old who I saw only once. The woman, though, I would see often, walking home from her piece-of-shit job at the convenience store way up the street on the corner in that piece-of-shit town. The man, meanwhile, I never once saw until that night. And from what I could tell, he didn’t do a goddamn thing but drink all night and sleep all day.

“No! Stop! Please! I love you!”

“You goddamn bitch! You goddamn whore!”

Another night, and I heard it again.

“But I love you!”

“Shut the fuck up bitch!”

This night was worse than usual. There were thuds. Breaking glass. Smacks of skin, and loud shrieking cries.

“I love you!”

“You goddamn bitch! You goddamn whore!”

I didn’t hear the kid. I never heard the kid. But I knew the kid was there and knowing that was too much for me on this night when the sounds coming from their piece-of-shit apartment were more brutal and awful than usual.

I got up from my bed, rushed downstairs in my boxers and T-shirt and kicked in their door. There was broken glass on the floor. She was huddled, crying, between the sofa and wall, her knees pressed against her chest. He was standing over her, this piece-of-shit man. The door slammed against the wall when I kicked it in, startling the man, who turned around and screamed at me: “What the fuck do you want!”

I didn’t answer. I grabbed him by his shirt, and then proceeded to beat him, landing punches to his face and head and any other body part with which I could make contact.

The kid came to the door of his room. His mother crawled out from the corner and yelled, “Get back in your bed!” And then she jumped on top of me, swinging her arms and fists wildly.

“Get the fuck out of here!” she yelled as she punched me in the back of the head.

Soon, the cops came. They put me in handcuffs. Then, more cops came.

The woman was crying hysterically. The cops surveyed the scene. There was broken glass. Bruises on the woman’s face. Welts on the man. Scratches on me. They pulled the piece-of-shit man off the couch and handcuffed him. I was put in the back of a cruiser, and he was put in the back of one, too.

A cop came to the car I was sitting in and asked for my version of events. I told him, and then I was lectured about how I might be charged with burglary for breaking into that piece-of-shit apartment and assault, too, for beating on that piece-of-shit man. The cop walked away and I was left in the cruiser alone for some 20 minutes. My shoulders burned from sitting there with my hands locked behind my back. I watched out the window, as the cops talked separately with the woman and then the man. More minutes passed, and then I was removed from the cruiser. My handcuffs were removed and I was told to go back into my apartment. I don’t know what the woman said. I never spoke to her. The cops kept the piece-of-shit man, who apparently was no stranger to them, and drove away with him downtown.

And that was it. That was all.

I never saw the kid again. Or the man. I did see the woman, though, two days later walking into her apartment and I asked her how she was doing.

“Fuck off,” she replied.

Then a few days later, they moved out of that piece-of-shit apartment.

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