Upon opening my window to shatter the farty air, I’m blasted with the howling wails of some old bat dying in the apartment directly across the way from mine. She’s babbling and crying and screaming all at once and a few of the window-shoppers down on the street manage to pull their eyes away and make a face for a split second before getting sucked back into whatever wonderful shiney things they were looking at in the first place.

It’s an instictual kind of tension left over from the good old days in the trees-which for some of us weren’t all that long ago. It’s that strange moment when everyone is trying to decide if it’s just some old woman flipping out at having discovered the cool, stiff carcass of her ancient bag-poodle or if she really is actutally dying herself… unable to convince themselves that deep down it would make a rats ass worth of difference if she was.

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The wails have grown into something else now. A high-pitched growling-honk deviod of grace that might as well be coming from a cow being disemboweled on an altar in front of a thousand dark-eyed on-lookers. Too bad she doesn’t have one of those nifty little gadgets that you wear around your neck in case something bad happens.

She could be pressing the button right now telling someone at some hospital the Czech equivalent of “Help me, I’m having a heart attack and I can’t get up!” But instead she’s rolling around in agony on her nicely vaccuumed carpet watching her life fly by her eyes like some lousy ‘B’ movie that never made it to the theatre. Maybe she never saw the commercial for those emergency neck things. More likely they don’t want such products polluting this country. It would mean someone would have to do something… maybe even quickly.

Can’t have that. If there was a way to make her wait in line, now that’d be a hot seller. “I’m sorry ‘mam, but without the correct documentation we cannot respond to your life-threatening situation at this time… but please stay on the line and perhaps your call will be answered. And oh yes, thankyou for choosing our wonderful product.”

It is not my intention to paint a grim picture without including myself in it. God-damn, that old gal sure has a set of lungs. I’m gonna have to close my window if she doesn’t shut the hell up. Can’t concentrate with all that racket. A good man in my shoes would call the hospital and then run across the street and bound up the three flights of stairs, kick the door down, give her CPR, then leap out the window and fly off to some other important matter just before the medics arrived.

But this ain’t Mayberry and I ain’t Andy Griffith. Heros are as dead as Nixon. Where do I stand? I don’t stand. I sit and write and laugh, knowing all too well that that I’m gonna be her sooner or later and that if I’m so sorry that I have to scream and cry at my death for all that I left undone then I can only pray that someone hears me and takes heed.

Ah, there are the sirens. How prompt. Good thing they didn’t get here on time, they might have had to save her life.

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