There’s hubbub going on outside, across the street. The noise wakes you up from a late afternoon nap. You’re on the couch and your three cats are on top of you. Their ears perk up from the commotion outside. You look out the window and see: two sheriff deputies, a tall woman with black hair in a business suit, and a pile of household items and accessories on the sidewalk: two couches, a double-bed for kids, tables, lamps, bookcases, suitcases, boxes, a 19-inch TV, a VCR machine, rolled-up rugs, and an old IBM desktop computer. The woman with black hair in a business suit is yelling: “Evicted? What do you mean evicted?!? How the hell can I be evicted? I just paid my rent yesterday! I mailed the check! You have the wrong address! Look what you’ve done to my life! I have two children and they’ll be home from school any minute now and what will they come home to? This? This crazy-making crazy?!”
The deputies tell her to calm down, to stop yelling, there is no mistake, her name and address are on the court eviction order for the Unlawful Detainer suit filed by the bank.
“Bank?” she says. “What bank?”
The bank that owns this apartment building, they tell her.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she says, “I paid my rent yesterday, I paid the landlord, this is my home, why is this happening to me, what have you done to my stuff?!”
“I’ll sue,” she goes.
“You people screwed up bad,” she goes.
A school bus stops by the corner and her two children emerge from the bus: one a boy, one a girl, nine and ten years old. They see their mother. They are confused. They see all their things on the sidewalk. They run to their mom and possessions. The mother is upset. She cries, she screams. The kids cry. The deputies are uneasy. The scene is gathering onlookers from the surrounding apartment buildings.
You have seen this woman before: coming and going from that building across the street, sometimes with her kids, sometimes alone, sometimes with one kid. On Saturdays, the father picks the kids up and he brings them back on Mondays.
You go back to napping. Your three cats join you.
She is on the evening news. News vans parked across the street. Men with cameras, women with microphones, bright lights, little city. A crowd of people gather around; few police cars as well.
You watch her on TV, the 10 o’clock segment: her face on the screen, her strife, worry, and tension allures your attention like sirens at sea, calling sailors to their fate.
“Look what happened to me,” she says.
This is fate, you know it.
You watch her from the window, as she sits on her couch in the street alone. No one cares anymore. You want to go over to her and tell her that you care, that she’s not alone, that the world isn’t so bad.
So why don’t you do it?You’re afraid to walk out the door because, well, the world is a bad place.
You’re napping and you wake up to some hubbub across the street: two people yelling at each other. You look out the window and see the woman having a screaming match with a overweight man in a cheap suit.
“You say such awful things about me!” yells the man. He has some kind of accent, you’re not sure what, something Eastern European maybe.
“I said the truth!” the woman goes.
“You ruin my reputation!”
“You deserve it!” the woman goes.
“I will sue you!”
“So sue me!”
“I will ruin you!”
“You already have!”
“Stop saying lies about me on TV!”
“Lies?! You took my rent money and didn’t even pay your mortgage and the bank foreclosed and has evicted me! You stole my money!”
“To hell with the banks!” says the man. “Tyrants! They steal from my properties!”
“You took my money and didn’t even tell me you were having troubles!”
“I get my properties back but not if you say these lies about me! You bitch!”
“Return my money so I can get a home for me and my kids,” she goes.
“Your money? Fuck you!”
“Give me my money!”
“You give me money, bitch!” Then something horrible happens: the woman grabs one of her lamp and smashed it across the head of the man. He falls down. She raises the lamp and keeps bringing it down on the man’s head. You can see a lot of blood.You move.
You approach the scene of the crime: the woman holding the lamp, the man on the ground with a crushed skull.
“Oh my God,” goes the woman, “I did something bad.”
“Is he all right?” you ask.
The woman looks up. “Does he look all right? The fucker is dead.”
You can see that the man does indeed look dead.
The woman glares at you and asks: “Who are you?”
“A neighbor,” you say.
“Did you hear how he was talking to me?”
“Did you see what happened?”
“I suppose you should call the cops.”
“No?”“I can help.”
You drive and the single mother evicted sits next to you and she seems less nervous. “The only witness was you,” she goes.
“I’ll never say anything,” you tell her.
“Right, because you’re an accomplice now,” she says.
“Isn’t this exciting?” you says.“You know,” she goes, “it is.”
“We can go anywhere,” you say, driving on the highway, heading East, “we could do anything. We’re outlaw women.”
“Like Thelma and Louise!” the woman says.
“I’m hungry,” you say. “How about you?”
“Maybe we should’ve eaten that landlord,” you say.
She laughs and goes: “He deserves it. Cook him up like steak.”
You stop off at a Denny’s and have pancakes, eggs, and bacon.
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” the single mother evicted says.
You couldn’t agree more.
Michael Hemmingson lives in southern California and Baja California. His collection of stories, Pictures of Houses with Water Damage, is available from Dzanc Books/Black Lawrence Press. A novella, Haiti, was recently published by the Olympia Press.
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