Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Just like the movies

Living cinematically: I give good movie.

But is it actually “Rear Window” or instead “Gaslight”?
(see for plot summaries if you’re not so sure.)

Well, well, well. It’s been a week. Am I better yet? Not sure. Saw on the AOL front page today that a lawyer’s being held hostage in Georgia somewhere. Poor poor man. He’ll be needing some therapy. I told Oscar that if this thing at the Pilates studio had happened in the States, I would have been front page news myself. Here, well, just another day in the life.

And how was the weekend? It was hellishly “interesting”.

Poor abused Mr. D came home midday on Saturday, ill with a cold, and exhausted after travelling almost 24 hours. Fuel shortages in London (those massive fires at the Hemel Hempstead depots) meant he had to fly from Barcelona to London, then London to Milan to refuel, then Milan to Johannesburg. Ugh. He was just shattered. And the full implications of everything had started to sink in. He was sick, man, just sick about it all.

We talked Saturday afternoon, and then didn’t do much of anything, really. Just tried to collect ourselves. Collect our thoughts. Figure out what exactly this all could or should mean.

I made dinner, and Mr D, Miss T and I sat out on the patio, ate, and talked. My mom rang then, and I chatted with her and my dad. Of course, I’d left them off the email distribution list for these latest emails. I just couldn’t bear it if they knew. They’d worry so much. (Don’t you wish, just a little, that I’d had the same consideration for all you guys?) When I finally rang off, Mr. D and Miss T had cleared off the dishes. Then he and I stood talking on the patio for a moment.

I’d heard some men shouting, earlier, perhaps while I was on the phone with my mum. And now I could hear a woman, screaming and then crying out, again and again.

“What’s that?” I asked.


Poor Mr D. He can’t hear a thing.

“That. Don’t you hear her? It’s a woman crying. There.”

I heard her again, and took off down the lawn, to where the cries were coming from. And they weren’t just cries. They were screams, screams and cries. Shrieks. Sobs. We were at the bottom of the hill, at our wall there.

I came to a smallish tree, and simply ran up it, barefoot, to the first crotch, to look over the wall (there! Pilates DOES make you fitter!) Across a public wooded area that borders our property, was another wall, and then another house, with garage doors both gaping wide open. In the dark, the garage stood brilliantly illuminated. Three men were wandering around in the garage, one holding a toddler, and two of the men as I watched were taking turns, getting in and then out of a car. The woman was still crying, not all the time now, but I couldn’t see where she was. In the car? What are they doing to her? Who is she? Is that her baby he’s holding? What’s going on?

I was suddenly completely enraged.


“STOP! I’m telling you, I’m calling the POLICE! I’m calling them RIGHT NOW!”

The men in the garage took no notice.

I looked down at Mr D, standing there astonished on the ground below, and said, “Stay here, I’m going to call the police!” And raced up to the house. Dialed “10111” -- police number here -- (which happily someone had just told me about the other day.) And I called ADT.

“There’s a woman being attacked next door to me. She’s screaming and screaming. Please send help.” And gave them my address.

The ADT guys showed up in a heartbeat, and we ran down the lawn. One guy climbed the tree to look. Got his boot caught in the tree branch, his partner freed him, and then they took off back up the lawn, running, to try to find out what was going on. Next, the police came. I told them what was happening, showed them. “Look, look! Over there! Listen! Can you hear her!?!?”

They tore off too, automatic weapons and all, shouting to each other in Afrikaans.

Mr D got out binoculars, and stood higher up on the lawn, looking. I climbed back up the tree. I watched too at the scene, sick at heart, listening to this woman sobbing, intermittently now, and seeing these men wandering around the garage with the baby. Where were the police. Why wasn’t anything happening?

We went back up to the house because a second ADT swat team had showed up.

“Are you sure it’s that house, over there?”

“Yes, yes, I’m sure. Please, please hurry.”

Down to the bottom of the lawn again, back up the tree. Now the garage was locked tight and no sound, no sign of the woman, or anyone else, for that matter. Did they kill her? Why couldn’t we hear her any more?

Suddenly, off to my right, through the trees, I saw a shadow. It was a man in silhouette, going over a wall into the wooded area with an automatic weapon. Ag, man! They were making a break for it, and coming this way!

I ran barefoot toward the house, coming upon Mr D halfway up. “RUN! RUN! GO! GO! They’re coming over the wall next to us, and down into the crick!” And we both ran up to the house, slammed the patio doors shut, and set the alarm. I’ve never ever run so fast. Ever.

Miss T looked bewildered, frightened. “What is going ON?”

“Oh... my.... gosh..... there’s something happening.... outside..... Shut the let’s set the alarm.... there.... there.....”

“I’m sleeping with you guys tonight.”

“Yeah, yeah, sure, T, anything. Anything you want!”

We were all utterly freaked out. I’d like to say we slept, but the insomnia’s back for me now.

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