Fly On The Wall
Fred and Audrey Sherman live in a small house on the quiet side of town. The happy couple has been married for thirty five years. They have two grown children, Roger and Mary, and five grandchildren. Fred is a retired city bus driver and Audrey used to work part-time at the Credit Union. The houses in the neighborhood are small and close together.
Fred would often comment, “These houses are so close together I can read the neighbors wall calendar!”
Their neighbors, Robert and Sarah, were a quiet, working couple in their early thirties. They have two dogs and no children. They moved into the neighborhood about a year ago, and the Sherman’s knew very little about them.
One hot, and sunny, summer afternoon, Fred was out on the deck cooking some hamburgers on the barbeque for supper. Audrey was nearby, sitting at the picnic table, enjoying a glass of lemonade. Fred had just flipped the burgers over, and Audrey was about to take a drink. When, from next door, a loud burst of verbal profanity shattered the tranquil moment. The neighbor’s window was open, and it sounded as if the enraged man was right in front of them. The livid neighbor sounded like he was ready to kill. The elderly couple froze instantly. Fred was stunned, his eyes and mouth wide open. Audrey’s glass was inches from her open mouth. Fred had worked with men that had anger issues, but this was over the top. He had never heard anything like this before. The string of coarse language that assaulted their ears was loud, continuous, and completely out of control. Audrey didn’t understand a lot of it. There were some words and phrases that Fred hadn’t heard before either. The screaming stopped for about thirty seconds, and then started up again, worse than before.
“Sounds like one of the dogs got into something.” said Fred.
”Both dogs are outside, tied up.” replied Audrey, as she stared at the neighbors open window.
“I hope he’s not mad at Sarah. Not like that!” said Audrey.
“Audrey? If it’s a domestic dispute, we don’t want to get involved. I’ve been through this nonsense before. When I was a bus driver I would see people fight every week! Either side you choose is wrong! The worst thing you can do is get involved! The police don’t even want to get involved! They dread domestic dispute calls! Just be a fly on the wall. Don’t worry about it.”
“Fly on the wall? Next to a hornets’ nest!” exclaimed Audrey.
They heard a loud crash, and the sound of splintering wood. At this point Fred suggested they go inside. Once in the safety of their own home, they worked as a team, quickly shutting the windows and closing the curtains, to dampen the noise. The neighbors fit of extreme rage went on for about thirty minutes. Fred could not imagine what could make a man so angry. They prayed that no one would get hurt, and the young couple would sort things out, and get on with enjoying life.
Audrey spotted Sarah the morning after her husband’s shocking outburst. Sarah was leaving for work. Audrey ran up to her, and pretended to admire her outfit, while thoroughly searching her for any signs of physical abuse. Sarah felt it a little peculiar to be scrutinized this thoroughly by the nice old lady from next door, but she went along with it. Audrey couldn’t see any cuts, scrapes, bruises, fat lips or black eyes, no signs of trauma. Brave girl…..and tough too. she thought. The neighbors smiled, and wished each other a great day.
Two weeks later, the outbursts happened almost every night, always in the late afternoon. There was a bit of tension when Fred and Audrey were outside, doing some yard work. Audrey got Fred’s attention when she saw Robert on his way home after work. Everyone smiled, and exchanged pleasantries. Audrey looked at Fred, expecting him to confront the monster. Fred looked at Audrey, praying that she would not say anything. Both of them sighed in relief when they heard the neighbor’s front door close.
On the third week, the Sherman’s held a family get-together, dinner at Grandma’s house. The whole Sherman family was there, all three generations. The neighbor had been quiet for three days. Fred and Audrey felt that the couple had settled down, and were friends again. They felt safe about their grandchildren playing outside, on the deck.
Suddenly, a scream of anguish erupted from the neighbor’s window, followed by a louder scream of rage. The children squealed, and started to cry. This started a panic. Everyone ran into the house as fast as they could. Like a fire drill in reverse. As soon as everyone was safely inside, Fred slammed the door shut, and locked it. They stopped short of barricading the doors and windows. Their daughter, Mary was on the phone dialing 911. Audrey stopped her, and calmly led her to another room, so they would have some privacy. She asked Mary not to say anything to her Father, but she had already phoned 911 a week before. There was nothing the police could do, unless the person being abused made the complaint. The nice police officer said she could file a noise complaint against the neighbor. But this might make him even angrier.
“The police have the same mentality as your Father, just be a fly on the wall, don’t do anything!“ Audrey explained to her daughter.
The ladies returned to the living room. They watched the kids while Roger and Fred went in the same room the ladies had just left. It was their turn to discuss the issue in private.
“Dad! Why didn’t you tell me this was going on? I don’t feel comfortable about you and Mom living next to that crazy maniac! I’ll get some friends, and we’ll go talk to him.”
“No, it’s no big deal. Everyone is overreacting. The houses are close together, and when we’re out on the deck, we can hear them sometimes.”
“Hear them sometimes! Dad! I don’t want to read anything about this in the newspaper, because we didn’t do anything! Has anyone else heard this?”
“No. This just started about a month ago. Your Mother has talked to the girl, and she doesn’t seem any worse for wear. Now you’re over reacting too, just relax, I can take care of your Mother.”
“Yeah, I guess so…but.”
Each of the men took a deep breath, and they shared a chuckle. Then they went back out to the living room, to be with the rest of the family.
One month after the first outburst, Audrey had reached her limit. The extremely loud, violent, verbal outbursts had continued, and it has become predictable. Audrey was very concerned for Sarah, and their dogs. The nice old lady was getting ready to go next door to confront the neighbors about the noise. She was looking at herself in the mirror, by the front door. Fred tried in vain to talk her out of going over there, but she was determined.
“Audrey, what are you doing? We argue too. You wouldn’t want anyone to bother us during one of our fights. Give them a chance to work things out. They’re young still.”
“We don’t argue like that! I’ve given them a whole month to work things out! Fly on the wall my ass! That young girl needs me. I can tell. From one woman to another, you wouldn’t understand, you’re a man!”
Audrey stepped outside. She had thought of everything. She had borrowed Mary’s cell phone, with 911 on speed dial, and she was wearing shoes that she could run in, just in case.
Fred watched Audrey, as she walked up the neighbors side walk to their front door. He was worried. He had gone to the back closet, and got a weapon, his old Louisville Slugger baseball bat. He carefully monitored his wife’s’ progress, as she stepped up the stairs leading to the neighbor’s front door. He had the bat in one hand, in case of trouble, and he peered through a slit in the curtains.
Audrey took a deep breath, and knocked on the door. The door opened a few seconds later, and there stood Sarah, with a big smile on her face. She was drying her hands with a dishtowel.
‘Hi, are you alright?” asked Audrey.
Sarah looked perplexed, “Yes?”
“We can hear the way Robert’s treating you, and we don’t agree with it.”
“The way Robert’s treating me? What do you mean?”
“We can hear him screaming at you. It’s awful, and we don’t agree with it.”
“Screaming at me?...... Oh, he’s in the back room playing Call of Duty online, his computer game. I can’t even hear him in there. Yeah, he’s told me that he’s been playing with some kids from the States that are cheating.”
“Call of Duty? Computer game?”
“Yes, it’s on the internet, he plays with people all around the world.”
“You’re sure you’re OK?”
“Oh yes, he would never talk to me like that. I would kill him. The dogs wouldn’t put up with that either, they would kill him too.”
Audrey smiled, “Ok, good. I’ll tell Fred you’re OK. He’s worried about you too.”
“Yes, I’ll tell Robert to settle down. The window in that room faces your deck, and it’s been hot, so the windows open. I never thought about that.” Sarah chuckled, “Sorry about that Mrs. Sherman, you know how kids overreact.”
“Yes,” Audrey smiled, “Overreact, yes.”
When Audrey got back home, she explained the cause of the disturbances to Fred. He had a good laugh. Audrey called Roger and Mary, they found it humorous as well. Robert and Sarah also had a good laugh. Robert has since come to the conclusion that computer games are too stressful. He has decided to take a break from playing online video games, for his health.