Muttering and mumbling somewhere nearby. Voices.
Not again, he thought waking, Rudely awakened from a sound sleep by the voices. No, he thought, that’s a lie, I haven’t slept soundly in months.
He’s wondered if he was crazy and just the imagining voices. After the fourth or fifth time the sound of voices woke him, he talked to the doctor who prescribed pills. The pills help him sneak into the darkness of slumber but he’s anxious once asleep. It’s too dark. He walks through scary subterranean chambers. Sometimes he’s on a bicycle he can’t control and falls off a cliff. No matter what dream, he always hears the voices. Groggy, he stares at the ceiling listening to the murmuring.
It’s Debbie’s, she’s loaded. Sounds like she’s with her damn drunk friends in the driveway again, he brooded.
His about-to-be ex-wife Liz was with Debbie when she was arrested the last time. They gave Debbie her second DUI and lifted her license. They let Liz go, but not Debbie. She spent four days in jail. Now Debbie goes to DUI School, or whatever they call it. She attends classes with other drunks listening to lectures, engaging in “therapy”. They discuss drinking, being drunk, drunk driving and watch movies of car wrecks.
These days Debbie either calls Uber or hitches a ride with a friend when she goes out to party. Several times, when friends drop Debbie around Two AM, they hang out drunkenly jabbering in the driveway. Their voices wake him, throughly, every time.
He faltered, and walks drug drunk to the window to watch Debbie and her friends. The pills make him wobbly.
There’s no one in the driveway.
Debbie’s house is dark.
He still hears mumbles of a conversation, muffled voices somewhere nearby. The street is deserted. No lights on inside the houses nearby. The streetlamp pools tangerine light on the damp pavement, painting nearby shrubs clockwork orange. He shivers as the night wind sends a cold vibration through the window pane.
He turned from the window, his head throbbing. The digital clock by the bed flashes cool blue 2:05 AM, warning him 3 hours sleep is not enough. Moving very slowly he plods to the back of the house and stares out the kitchen window at the rear of the widow neighbor’s house. The house, a tedious white faux Santa Fe adobe. The house looks dark, but he thinks he sees a light, maybe a TV screen, flickering in a back window. Under the dim back porch light, the widow’s sullen black cat stares at him from the top step.
He stands still a long time wondering about the sullen black cat and its good luck at finding a home with the widow neighbor instead of drunk Debbie. He wishes he was widowed. He stands still as a post, his head thrums between throbs. The voices are closer.
The voices are in his house.
He quietly removes a Beretta APX pistol from the safe box in the laundry room adjoining the kitchen and loads it. He’s only shot it a couple of times at the local range, it feels light, but serious. He bought it after his ex-wife’s glossy bodybuilder boyfriend threatened to turn him into a tissue sample. “Beat you to a pulp” were Xavier’s exact words.
The guy looks like a two bit disposable extra in a second rate gangsta movie he thought. He knows the guy’s real name is Marvin.
The muffled voices are female. They’re coming from the den. Liz, his ex-wife, and Debbie? he wondered. Weeks before the divorce, they’d party when he was in town. He wondered if Liz has broken into the house again and dragged drunk Debbie inside with her.
Something in his head is jackhammering his brain. He wonders if it’s fright or the pills. Both he thought. He moved slowly down the hall to the den doorway.
“Who’s there?” he tries to sound like Mel Gibson.
“I said, who’s in there?. Listen, I’ve got a gun!?” he realizes he’s shouting.
“It’s just me,” a mild female voice responded.
He knows the voice, but can’t place it. “Who’s just me and who are you talking to?” he ordered. No answer.
“Why do you have the lights off, ” he demands.
“Because”, the voice said, “YOU come in and turn on the friggin’ light.”
“Listen”, he said, “tell me who you are or I’m going to start shooting.” His hand is sweating the gun feels hot and slippery.
“It’s me, Alexa,” the voice is sullen. “Siri and I were just talking about you.”
“You’re what?” he’s sure he crazy. “You and Siri are talking about me? Alexa, turn on the lights.” he commands. These are the voices that have been ruining my sleep, nerves and life for three months? Good God.
“No.” the voice responded petulant and defiant. Another female voice giggles.
He felt around the door jamb and turned on the overhead light.
The den is empty.
Alexa’s sneers, “See, it’s just us. We talk every night.”
He yanked Alexa’s Echo Dot Plus vocal box off the table and unpluged it. He threw it on the floor. For good measure, he shoots it, twice.
Going to the MAC, he begins to uninstall clamorous Siri who’s calling “No no, Help.” He sends her files to the MAC’s trashcan and then empties the trashcan shredding Siri into Nevereverland.
His head is pounding and so is something at the back door. Through the kitchen door window he sees it’s the elderly widow, she’s small and tidy in a pink chenille robe.
“I heard shots, are you OK?” she’s frightened.
“Yes, I’m fine. I just shot Alexa” he says. The pistol is in his hand, he was in process of returning it to the safebox.
The widow looks at the pistol, “Who?” she backed up a step.
“You know, Alexa, my personal assistant.”he responded.
“You shot your assistant? I didn’t know you had one. I’ve never seen her, Where’s she from?” Her voice is shaky, her eyes are as big as frisbees. She’s in reverse.
“From Amazon,” he replied, unloading the pistol.
“You shot a South American woman in the middle of the night? Are you crazy?” she turned and ran for her house. The black cat shoots the gap and is inside before she slams the door shut.
Oh crap, he thought.
He pulled on a bathrobe as he shuffled groggily to the front door. He turned on the porch light and walked outside, sat down on the top step of the porch.
He hears voices.
Debbie and her drunken friends have pulled in her driveway. She gives him a dirty look and the finger as she exits the car. She’s unsteady as she leans her elbows on the car window to blabber a long goodbye to her friends.
His head begins to pound again as sibilant high pitched screech filled the night. Roof bar lights whirling full tilt, sirens screaming bloody hell, two cop cars screech to a halt in front of the driveway shared by his and Debbie’s house.
A bullhorn voice demands, “Put your hands over your head.”
Debbie beats him by a heartbeat in getting hers up first.