The Screaming Next Door

by Regis Boff

As a child the backdrop sounds of vicious husband and wife fights in our neighborhood was a vital form of entertainment for my family. It was our version of the rich people’s live theater.
My dad would turn off the TV and radio and the three of us would sit near the window that offered the best reception. Sometimes the phone would ring with another neighbor asking us if we were listening.
We used our ears more back them. Before bed I would often lay next to my dad in the silent dark and listen to spooky murder mysteries or shows like “Amos and Andy.” on the radio. When I was little, the two experiences of radio and family combat were much the same to me. My neighborhood got really scary only when I got older.
Sometimes a wife would show up at our door crying and occasionally bruised and she and my mother would sit in our kitchen with the doors closed.
I am not sure but I think my mother always tried to talk her into going back home before her husband came looking for her. Nobody liked witnessing a women being dragged darkly back home by the arm. It is one of those images that is clear in your mind even if you have never really seen happen it in real life.
No one ever offered asylum to a woman as families respected the sanctity of each other’s marriages and the police were never called by anyone but the wife herself. The police hated these calls because the husbands were already violent when they got there and everyone in the room was sure to have a gun, and besides, the cops respected marriage too.
I would hide in my room when our turn came. The only thing that would make me feel better was when the screaming came from next-door, tomorrow.