Woken suddenly from a deep sleep, I lie rubbing my eyes, my mind still half intent on catching that elusive dream salmon. What was it? Then it’s there again, BANG! And again, BANG! A sharp retort, unrecognised and yet eerily familiar all the same, an ominous sound in the dead of night.
There’s a call in the distance and then footsteps, running, coming closer. A window smashes, threats are barked out.
In the half-light I stumble out of bed and across to the window. Outside shadowy figures scuffle, no time for words now. Fists flail, weapons whirl before the combatants break in response to the growing volume of a siren approaching fast. One last sucker punch, one final swing of what looks like an iron bar and then they’re fleeing in different directions.
Within minutes the entire street outside my second floor
apartment is swarming with police cars. Groups of locals stand huddled in doorways, their faces shadows in downcast yellow of street lights, their dressing gowns evidence of a night disturbed. I crane my neck to see what has happened and further down the street I see police officers cordoning off a section of pavement where a figure lays prone on the ground. They are coaxing the people back now, into their houses, off the street, away from the scene of the crime. London
Standing pyjama clad in my bedroom window for another half an hour or more, I gain no extra clue as to what has really happened. “Come back to bed,” I’m told, “You’re too nosey for your own good.” And so I retire; I lay back down, my body wanting to step back into that pool of the dream salmon but my mind has different ideas and all night I lie awake wondering, worrying, was it really gun shots that I heard?
It’s a different night but jolted from that same dream, that same stream, that same elusive salmon, by a loud crack and a scrape, I lie in the pitch darkness, a cold sweat forming on my brow. Did I hear something? Is there someone there? Can’t have been, all is silent now. But then there it is again, I hear more movement from downstairs, a heavy shuffling, CRASH, something is knocked over, a guttural groan. What the… Who the…
Urged, or rather pushed and prodded to investigate, I climb out of bed into the chilly night and blink for a moment to find my night vision. I arm myself with the heavy flashlight from my dresser drawer. The weighty metal handle feels good in my hand but my heart is still pounding, my head hot with myriad images of masked intruders, mangled bodies, all kinds of gruesome scenario gleaned from a diet of American cop dramas.
Hesitant on the wooden stairway unless a creak should give away my approach, I slowly, nervously, descend. The noises, bumps, clumps, rips and rattles still come. The intruder is either unaware or unconcerned of my impending presence.
I go to snap on the living room light but before I do I’m stopped in my tracks by a colossal figure standing at the walkout doorway. Heavy set, weighing over 400 lbs and clad in a fur coat, he turns and stares straight into my eyes for one lingering moment before going back to destroying the bird feeder out on the deck.
Two nights, two frights: how different