I was sitting in my apartment, playing Skyrim, when I was shocked by a woman screaming from outside.
It is not particularly strange to hear the insane screeching of a madwoman in the great and weird city of Portland. I went to the balcony, to investigate, make sure it was nothing serious. I heard her scream, “let me out!” repeatedly; I was worried. The sky was still a dark blue with the near-gone sunlight of the late afternoon. There were hardly any cars on the street, just a bus stopped at the crosswalk. The screeching was clear and loud, as if it was right in front of me, but I saw no one screaming. Only a couple of my neighbors standing on the sidewalk all staring off in the same direction, wondering if it was serious or just some random craziness (99% of the time it’s the latter); one guy had his phone ready in his hand.
Then I saw the woman appear from behind the bus and quickly make her way across the street. She seemed young. She was white and had long black hair and wore a pink sweater. She shrieked, bloodcurdlingly loud, like a banshee, projected across the parking lot and street as clear as day. But she wasn’t running, nor were there any other people near her, or cars, no apparent dangers. The first assumption is drugs, but who knows. In between incoherence, a shrieked “fuck you!” and “I need you!” and “I love you!” pierced the air. It was haunting…creepy, it didn’t quite echo but felt as if the sound came from everywhere. It was also curious. How could someone scream ‘fuck you’ and ‘I love you’ in one motion? Thinking of the possibility she wasn’t on drugs, made it sad…but also even more creepy. I like to imagine the circumstances behind anyone stringing these words together in terrifying shrieks in near-public. If I were closer, would I have been able to see that she was crying?
The neighbors dispersed once they began hearing the ‘fuck you, I love yous’. Curse words immediately quell the sense of emergency of a scream in the city. But I was a bit entranced. It’s not often one gets to freely hear a woman’s shrieks echoing ominously throughout the silent night world, like an angered wraith in a cemetery…not without being able to just listen to it anyway (rather than making for the 911 buttons and bolting out the door to the rescue).
The enchantment was broken when a man yelled “Hey! Shut the fuck up!”