Thursday, August 8, 2013


They begin to hear the screams just after dark. People stop what they are doing, look up from their dinner or their reading. Spouses look at each other tentatively.

“What was that?”

“It’s that damn TV next door. Comes right through the walls.”

“That’s not a TV. It’s outside.”

They rush to their windows. All along both wings of the building curtains open, shades go up, lights are turned out for better vision. Two figures near the bushes inside the curve of the driveway. A man and a woman?

“They’re just having a fight.”

“I don’t know. Looks like he’s attacking her. Maybe we should call the police.”

“Police don’t want to get involved in domestic things. Neither should we.”

A few go back to what they were doing, raising the volume of their televisions a little higher to drown out the sounds. Most are transfixed against their will, bound to the sight in front of them. The woman is on the ground now, on her hands and knees behind the bushes, blocked from the sight of some of the onlookers. The man seems to be gone, but then comes back, running toward the woman, who screams again. The watchers are getting more nervous now. They are knocking on their neighbors’ doors, asking what’s going on, if they should do something.

Look, nobody’s out there. If it was something really bad, somebody would be out there, wouldn’t they? The police would be here. They look at each other and nod hopefully. Yeah, that’s right.

Rumors start. Maybe they’re filming a movie. I saw some trucks parked around back today.

You know, I think I did hear something about filming somewhere around here.

None can admit the argument is weak. The noise subsides. They go to bed reassured.

The next day’s paper reads Woman Stabbed to Death Outside Apartment House While Dozens Look On.

They drop their heads, cover their eyes with their hands.

God, forgive us.

We didn’t know.
Written for Trifecta Writing Challenge. This week's prompt was the third definition of the word weak: "not factually grounded or logically presented <a weak argument>"


  1. I got steadily uneasier as the story went on. Well done for pacing it beautifully.

  2. Kitty Genovese. This story remains with me. Very upsetting. I agree with Sandra's comments above. Well done.

  3. How sad. Great story telling. I wanted to grab someone's phone and call the cops myself. Lol.

  4. This is heart-breaking - the fact that so many people witnessed it and didn't do anything. I kept hoping that someone would step out from the crowd and get involved.

  5. This sort of thing would piss me off. Some people...
    This is good, and hopefully makes for a good lesson.

  6. It would be reassuring to think that this couldn't happen again, but the facts say otherwise. Tough read, but nicely done.

  7. Always, always call. Better to cause some minor inconvenience than live with that guilt.

  8. The collective hive evasion. Always looking to the next person. Great heads up!

  9. Wow. It's sad that this is so relevant.
    So coincidental that I just saw this: http://www.upworthy.com/its-heartbreaking-to-see-how-people-react-to-the-first-half-of-his-test-compared-to-the-second-2?c=upw1
    Thank you for sharing a story with a message many people need to hear.

  10. Very realistic. So compelling with the ones inside talking themselves out of what they know is going on, too cowardly to chance getting involved. I agree, tough read, but with a good takeaway.