In Trouble

From Mrs. Wolfe's perspective Sue seemed to be a decent renter: she was friendly and paid her rent on time. Despite being a young person, Sue was actually considerate about playing her strange gothic techno music. The music was never played over loud or over late. Mind you, being techno it still managed to penetrate the walls, but Mrs. Wolfe was willing to allow for that given how well behaved Sue was about her noise. In the back of Mrs. Wolfe's mind Sue's presence was almost like having a daughter around once more.

One night Mrs. Wolfe went to bed after Sue finished playing one piece of techno that Eileen found a bit of a toe-tapper. The house seemed quiet and peaceful, so she fell quickly asleep. A few hours later, close to midnight, Mrs. Wolfe awoke to the sound of a young man's voice. "Hey, is anyone awake?" he called out. Mrs. Wolfe put on her glasses and pushed the curtains back from the window beside her bed. Outside on the foot path stood a fellow wearing black leather pants, a t-shirt and multiple silver earrings dangling from various parts of his body. His hair was lank and black with turquoise streaks running through it.

Though Mrs. Wolfe didn't mind Sue's gothic appearance, the young man made her nervous. She started to pull away from the window when he noticed her peering at him. "Please, don't go away," he called out, "My girlfriend has stopped breathing. At least call an ambulance."

With those words Mrs. Wolfe opened the window. "What has happened?" she asked.

"My girlfriend Sue lives in this block of flats. She started choking, then knocked her head when she ran to the bathroom. Now she is unconscious and not breathing. I don't know what to do. Please help," the young man begged.

From watching films and television such events feel like they ought to be more dramatic, with an accompanying sound track that expresses the urgency of the moment. Yet when they really happen, they have a simple plaintive quality. This is not some mighty climax to a series of events, but it means everything to the people involved. "I'll be right down," Mrs. Wolfe called back.

She phoned the paramedics, put on her robe and grabbed the keys for the block. Swiftly she was by Sue's limp form with Boris beside her. "I want you to carefully lay her out flat," Mrs. Wolfe told Boris as she rolled up her sleeves. She then got onto her knees next to Sue's head. First she checked Sue's throat for obstructions, and found a half eaten orange slice stuck half way down which she pulled out with her finger. She then pinched Sue's nose and started huffing and puffing into her mouth.

Sue was already breathing again when the paramedics turned up. They checked that nothing more serious was still awry and suggested she go with them to the hospital. Sue just wanted to stay with her boyfriend, but promised to go to the doctor the very next morning. Mrs. Wolfe insisted that she would take her in herself. "It's a good thing I once took first aid, young lady," rebuffed Mrs. Wolfe. With the excitement over she began to notice the filthy state her flat was being kept.


Pigs in the City
Copyright © 1999 Katherine Phelps
Story Shapes