It was 2 a.m., and I’ve taken a shower just to cool off. It’s so hot in the summer, even at night, in the Midwest. I’m about to go to sleep. I’m in my underwear checking email, sprawled out on a dark green wool blanket in front of my computer (fortuitously saved as it was in for service repairs during the fire).
The housing is densely situated, and with the warm weather and open windows, you end up hearing your neighbors. There’s usually some street noise until about 3 or 4 in the morning too. I could hear a woman talking somewhat softly, and it sounded like she was crying with a friend. I couldn’t hear what she was saying, so I did the polite thing and turned my music up. It was the Trainspotting soundtrack. I turned it up a little more at some point when I thought I heard her again.
At some point though, I started thinking she was unusually loud, so I turned the volume down some until I could hear a little better. It sounded like full on crying and sobbing. That’s awful, I thought. I felt really bad, but you hear a lot of stuff and you just learn to let it go. Besides, it wasn’t my business. But then I heard…
What the fuck… did I just hear…
It was a woman’s voice. Was she in pain? It sounded like a low moaned help. I turned the music off. Definitely “help”. Whoever she was, she was literally right outside my (partial basement) window. I knew on the inside what was going on. It was the first thing I thought, and I reeled, hoping there could be something else that made more sense. But the word kept reappearing: rape.
I couldn’t see out from the window because the view was obscured intentionally from the outside. My heart was beating fast, and I could hear my pulse in my ears. My mind went through a dozen reasons to not get involved. It’s what had kept me relatively safe so far. How many attackers were there? Were they armed? I heard her voice again, and that was it. That sealed it. I had to do something. So I grabbed a weapon from a literal pile of weapons, put on my boots, and walked out around to the side alley – in my underwear (not a whole lot of time).
I walked softly as I got close the corner a few meters down from my window. I calmed quickly, took one quick breath, and then I remember taking the same deep breath I do before I step on the mat, the same deep breath I use to dive, and I used it to scream as loudly as I could as I stepped out, hoping to startle the rapist away from the woman. It surprised me even with how penetratingly loud it was. It was my fear and anger vocalized. I took a stance, lowered my hips, and steadied my weapon. Neighbors windows had shot open at the commotion, heads popped out and took in quite a scene. A man in nothing but underwear and boots, with nunchucks, screaming and ready to attack… a cat in heat. Yep.
It was a cat in heat. I had never heard any cat in heat before, but I swear this particular cat sounded like a woman getting raped. I probably validated every Bruce Lee stereotype in that neighborhood, and I never heard the end of rape kitty.