11 June, 2006

Altogether now

What would politely be referred to as a domestic took place in the car park outside my flat yesterday afternoon. What would be correctly referred to as a screaming exchange of hysterical profanity also occurred. Conveniently enough for the latent nosey streak in me and my fellow neighbours, these two instances were in fact one and the same.

There was only one party present in the car park; the subject, or rather the object, of his acute ire was on the other end of his mobile phone. But she might as well have been standing there with him, such was the totally unselfconscious and deeply personal, not to say intimate, nature of his remarks.

To be frank, I had never seen the like. It was a painfully honest, yet honestly painful, display of grief, anger, hurt and uncontrollable dangerous rage.

From what I could gather, and believe me things are actually less coherent and hard to hear when they are shrieked rather than spoken, he had just discovered his "woman" had been unfaithful to him after, oh dear, eight long years together. Or as he put it, "after eight years you go fuck someone else?"

It being a blistering hot day, every single window in the vicinity was wide open. It was impossible not to get drawn in. As the minutes went by and the profanities stacked up, I saw more and more faces emerge to view the proceedings. Our victim being down below in the car park, it became like we were eager spectators gazing upon some tawdry Greek tragedy. But here there was to be no cathartic resolution, and definitely no applause.

The bloke's other half had been "spied" with somebody else, and word had only just got back to him. He was spitting with fury. "Don't give me that bullshit, don't give me that bullshit," he kept yelling. His interrogation was relentless and also pretty ruthless. He demanded she tell him not just when she first met this new man, but how old he was ("32! I bet you he's got a fucking wife and three fucking kids"), whether - of course - she had "fucked with him", and most startling of all from my hopelessly liberal Western perspective, "what race is he?"

But soon these questions turned to insults, and then to threats, and then to retribution. What had been an intriguing eavesdrop became desperately sorrowful listening and ultimately just too much to bear.

The man ended up issuing all sorts of threats - "I will kill you, I will kill both of you, I'm coming to get you" - which were, frankly, terrifying in their intensity. He was also quite clearly out of control, walking round and round in circles, ignorant of everyone else walking past (including small children) and everyone watching from on high.

Eventually I had to turn away and attempt to distract myself in something else. Next time I looked the man had gone. His car was still there, though, and I thought for a moment I could still hear his ranting drifting on the breeze from somewhere in the distance. More likely it was his voice still ringing inside my head.

A couple of hours later I realized his car had gone, so he must have been back at some point though I neither saw nor heard of his return.

The whole thing was shamelessly tawdry yet somehow deeply affecting. The man, from what he was shouting, had been with this woman for eight years yet he was only 24. His heart had been broken there and then, in front of me and my fellow peeping toms. All of a sudden I felt terribly ashamed, as if I was complicit in the man's suffering. An ugly epilogue to an equally grisly episode.


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