But last night I was awakened from a dead sleep by a young woman’s voice, calling out from the street “RAPE! HELP! RAPE!” I grabbed my cell phone from the nightstand, sprang out of bed to the window and peered down into the street. I saw and heard nothing. I hollered out, “HELLO? WHO”S DOWN THERE? “ There was no answer. For a moment, a moment only, I thought – maybe a prank. But I couldn’t take the risk – I dialed 911 and within moments, a patrol car was cruising up the street, then slowed near my apartment building, spotlight on, trolling the shadows.
I went down to the street to talk with the officers. Told them my tale. They walked the street, heavy flashlights in hand, beaming a strong light into bushes, cars, doorsteps, stairwells. They knocked on doors, searched the construction site across the way, gained admittance to the apartment building across the street and I could see through the building’s windows the light of their flashlights going this way and that as they walked the hallways and listened for sounds of distress.
But they found nothing. Whoever had sent out that initial cry had disappeared, or was silenced in some way – either through her own volition, or coercion, or force.
The cops left; I returned to bed, yet I refused to shut and lock my window. I refuse to live in fear on my own street. But I slept badly the rest of the night, tossing and turning and wondering about the young woman whose voice I heard so clearly: “RAPE! HELP! RAPE!”