The screamer in our neighborhood
We refer to one of our neighbors as “The Screamer.”
She has been yelling at the same guy on the phone since we moved into the house where we live four years ago and probably since before that. She also yells at the dog, which seems to get loose frequently.
I can’t help but notice when she’s on a tirade. F-bombs, “GD,” and just general drunken, slurring anger.
Dysfunction is fascinating to me, as confirmed by my oldest son who said, “Yeah, mom, you kind of do talk about it a lot…” I am drawn to it like the insects in our kitchen light fixture. (My husband and I binge-watched all seven seasons of Shameless not long ago: that is how much I’m fascinated by dysfunction. I also like watching shows about hoarders and people going to rehab.)
The other night, both my husband and I heard The Screamer’s car door slam and the muffled shouts at the same time. Our attention was riveted, as we stared at each other, straining to see if we could hear anything.
We could not. It’s summer, so the trees are thick with leaves and I cannot hear as well as other times of the year.
My husband went back to what he was doing, but I could not. I went out to the porch, which has a view across the rail trail to the side of The Screamer’s house. Except I couldn’t see. Again, the leaves. And even though there was a bright, full moon earlier that night, it was very dark by that time.
Once I asked another neighbor if she had ever heard The Screamer and she said no.
I was sure she was lying: How could you not?
But perhaps it is just the way our yards kind of abut, through the woods bisected by 80 feet or so of land that belongs to the railroad, and it wouldn’t work the same for someone across the street.
One time, I mentioned it to another friend who lives across town, wondering if I should do anything.
She told me if I heard it again, I should call the police.
Uhm, no. I never did. I can’t imagine what I would say. “My neighbor is screaming.” It sounds so stupid.
I’ve thought about walking over there and asking her if she’s okay, but I couldn’t do that either. She’s clearly not, and I have a hard time with situations where people are yelling and out of control. I tend to just shut down and not remember anything.
And then I wonder if the across the street neighbor denied hearing anything simply because it would be messy and complicated to get involved. It certainly would be easier not to hear it.
I had a friend over recently and we were standing on the front lawn when The Screamer started up again. “Oh my God!” I said. “It’s The Screamer! Can you hear that?”
My friend scrunched her nose a little as she frowned. “Yes! What’s that all about?”
“I really don’t know. It’s just The Screamer. She yells like that from time to time. I think she’s yelling at her boyfriend. Or maybe it’s her ex-husband. I can’t imagine a boyfriend would put up with that screaming for any length of time…” my words trailed off after my thoughts. I have often tried to piece together what could possibly be happening across the tracks. Maybe they liked fighting like that. He seems to hang up on her a lot, but why would he keep answering the phone if he knows it’s her?
My friend said, “Do you know if there are kids in the house?”
“The kids are definitely grown and gone by now. At least two of them were in college when we moved in here.”
“I’m a mandated reporter,” she told me.
“I don’t think there’s anything to report.”
And, because there’s nothing to report, and I don’t plan to confront her, I’ve just accepted the fact that we have a screamer in our neighborhood.