Phone in Hand
by Alex Carrigan
“I hate you! Let me go!”
Those words propelled me out of my delirium. I was in my dorm room, trying to fall asleep. I had spent an uneventful evening watching TV and had decided that it was time to go to sleep. I was wrapped up in my blanket and curled up in my double bed, trying to relax my brain and enter dreamworld.
I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep anytime soon.
It was nearly midnight. I was in my bed when I heard the girl shout those words. My first instinct was to raise my blinds to see what was going on. It was hard to keep the blinds up from the angle I was at, but I saw an African American girl get pulled into a car parked in the small street next to my building.
I tried to watch the scene below. The glare from the streetlights made it hard to see into the car, but I could still see the girl, with her short hair and glasses visible through the windows. The man who pulled her in was in the driver’s seat, so I had no idea what he looked like, but I could see his hands clutching the steering wheel.
I was still lying on my bed, stomach down, looking out the window. I had cracked my window open to try and hear what was going on. My dorm is near a noisy intersection, so it is hard to hear most things outside my window. That girl’s scream was loud enough to penetrate the city sounds though.
My Blackberry was charging on the windowsill, so I picked it up. I had no idea what the man was going to do the girl, so for safety I pre-dialed 911 in case I saw any physical violence. However, I realized that it might be better to call campus police, who might be able to get to the scene before the regular police. However, I didn’t have the campus police number on my phone, so I had to jump out of bed and hurry to my laptop.. As I waited to log into my computer, I was worried about what I could miss. Was the girl being hit? Were they fighting?
I soon found the number and resumed my place on my bed, looking out the window at the car below. This must have been what it was like to be Kyle MacLachlan in Blue Velvet, a voyeur looking into the lives of others. There wasn’t much going on outside. I could see the light from the girl’s cell phone, but not much else.
The man suddenly honked the horn three times, then a clapping sound. I sincerely hoped he was hitting the dashboard.
She tried to get out of the car, but he kept her inside. They needed to air out whatever they were discussing. I remained vigilant, waiting for the right moment to call. What was the right moment though? They were creating a disturbance, but should I wait until there was physical violence? All I could do was sit and watch.
I tried to think of what to say to the campus policeman or woman on the other end. Is it just a domestic disturbance? Am I meddling with a couple’s personal issue? Will the police even do anything? All these thoughts entered and exited my mind as I waited patiently for something to happen.
I thought back to a scene from La Dolce Vita, where Marcello and Emma were sitting in his car as Marcello announced his desire to break up with her. Were the two people in that car like the characters in Fellini’s movie? Violence seemed present, but would it reach the levels of that film where Emma began repeatedly hitting Marcello before he abandoned her?
All I could do was sit. There wasn’t too much else going on below. They were still talking, and I still had my phone in hand, ready to call the campus police as soon as I had a justifiable reason. Nothing happened.
Soon, the girl got out of the car. She stormed down the street, away from the car. The man floored the gas pedal and drove the car onto the busy street, out of my range of sight. I sat there silent. I opened my window as far as I could and leaned out. I could vaguely see the girl walking down the street. Her head was hung low.
Nothing happened. Marcello had left Emma. I was left staring out the window into the noisy evening, clutching my Blackberry. I was shaking. There was nothing for me to do.
I set my phone down on the windowsill and walked over to my desk. Sitting in the chair, I looked at my laptop in disbelief. Why didn’t I call the police? Could I have done anything? Would the police have actually done anything in the situation?
These thoughts meandered in my head as I sat there. With nothing else to do, I turned on my laptop, and began writing. Somehow, tapping away on the keyboard felt really nice. It cleared my head, helped translate what happened into text, and made me ponder everything that just happened to me.
With the document saved, I turned my computer off, turned the lights off, and got back into my bed. Wrapped under the covers, I closed my eyes, relaxed, and tried to drift into slumberland.
I still couldn’t fall asleep.