Sunday mornings in the ‘hood


It’s Sunday morning. I am awake early and I decide to be a good husband and father and get some buns for breakfast.

It happens when I turn around the street corner. I hear a muffled scream and witness a young man forcibly dragging a blonde into a doorway. She is fighting back fiercely, then the door slams shut and I think: “Shit!”

In my mind’s eye to all sorts of horror scenarios start playing off. Maybe that guy is trying to scrag her. And now life has thrown me into a situation where I’ll have to confront my fears and a lousy thug. A thug who probably has more muscle than I. Wait, he definitely has more muscle than I! And after beating that blonde, he probably has fallen into a frenzy and won’t be impressed by a measly me who’s been wearing glasses since early childhood. And if I get involved now and it takes a while because I get beaten to pulp and the pee stains in my trousers have to be cleaned in the laundry next door, my family won’t get their buns for breakfast and might be worried about me.

And while my mind is still trying to figure out the pros and cons of moral courage at the street corner, my body has already started running to the house and I’m rattling at the door. It doesn’t open. I can hear loud screaming inside, then everything is silent. Ok, I got the message of the day: walking on as if nothing has happened is not an option. But what can I do?

There’s a small café next door whose door is wide open. I run inside, all the chairs have been put up on the tables, an old man with a gray moustache is sitting in a corner. The owner, most likely, who only wanted to let in some fresh air and who is rudely torn out of his daydreaming by my appearance. He looks up at me with sleepy eyes. A part of me disengages itself from the rest and observes the other part of me who is hysterically shouting words like “man”, “woman” and “police” into the room. As soon as he hears the word “police”, the old man is suddenly wide awake, jumps up quickly and steps uncomfortably close. “Policía? No nix policía. Why this? What you say?”

The hysteric and the observer inside me blend into a complete entity again and I start to explain to the gray-bearded man as slowly as possible, what I just saw. He doesn’t understand me, shakes his head and repeats “No nix policía!” as if that was a magic formula to banish evil ghosts.

I am now forced to do a one-man-pantomime-performance accompanied by explanatory nouns. Like a spiffy dancer I sashay through the café and try to portray gagging myself and dragging an imaginary blonde into an imaginary doorway. At the same time I’m shouting again and again: “man”, “woman” and “violence” (omitting the evil word “police” in my narration).

The miracle happens. Semantics manifest. The message finds a receiver.

And he asks: “In this house? Increíble! I make door open for you from inside, señor!” Then he pushes me out of the cafè, latches the entrance, points at the house next door and shouts through the glass pane: “You go to next door, I come from the inside, sí, señor!” He disappears in the darkness of his café. Who could disagree to his words?

So again I stand in front of the door that the blonde had been dragged through and I wait for graybeard to open from inside. It takes forever. And again all sorts of uncomfortable thoughts are racing through my head. What happens if I actually meet the guy and the girl? What do I say? At least, the owner of the café will be there, too.

Keys rattle in the keyhole, the door opens and graybeard says: “Is nobody here. You see, señor!”

I enter the hallway and listen. Silence everywhere. It’s Sunday morning, of course. A door suddenly bangs in one of the floors above and a piercing female voice is complaining about something. A man answers. I can hear someone coming down the stairs.
Graybeard looks at me and whispers: “This there? Man, woman, violencia?”
I whisper back: “I don’t know. Let’s see.”
He nods and says: “No nix policía!”

A sobbing blonde is staggering down the stairs. Completely plastered and barely able to walk straight, she stumbles past us out the front door. Then the guy appears on the stairs. He quickly runs past us, too, looks out the door and yells after her: “Wait, Claudia! Where do you wanna go now?”

Claudia manages bawling an almost incomprehensible “Lemme-lone-a-sole!” (I guess it’s supposed to mean “Leave me alone, asshole!”), then she vomits in front of a lamppost, wipes her mouth and – still sobbing – disappears around a corner. Flabbergasted, the guy is standing in the doorframe. Up close he suddenly doesn’t look that muscular and so I dare to approach him with the stupid sentence: “Is everything ok here?”
He stolidly looks at the corner where Claudia has just vanished.
“Nothing is ok.”

Meanwhile graybeard has absconded too. I take a deep breath and work up the courage to confront the guy: “I just saw you dragging that woman into this house violently. I am a bit concerned now.”

Yeah, I know. Cheesy. But I had to say something.

He sighs and starts explaining: “Yeah, that was my smashed girlfriend who showed up like that at my door this morning and woke me up. I quickly drove her here, because she lives here. But she didn’t wanna go home yet but party some more. You just saw what she’s like…” We look at the puke on the lamppost and I’m not quick-witted enough to respond, that indeed I’d just got a glimpse of what she looks like on the inside.

The guy honks his nose with an unesthetic sound and asks me: “Say, can you help me to push-start my car? The starter is kaput.” Without waiting for my answer he shuffles towards his silver-gray Honda which has been parked on the curb. Half of his wazoo is peeking out of his trousers, his missing underpants seem to confirm the story he has just told me.

Together, wie push-start his car, he jumps in, the engine howls and wakes up the neighborhood and after he has driven off I am left alone in the middle of the street that is suddenly extremely quiet.

For whatever reason I have to burst out laughing. And even though I’m not hungry anymore, I still go and get some buns for breakfast. After all, I want to be a good husband and father.