Muttering and mumbling somewhere nearby. Voices.
Rudely awakened from a sound sleep by the voices. No, he thinks, I haven’t slept soundly in months.
He’s wondered if he was crazy and just 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 or 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 broods.
His about-to-be ex-wife Liz was with Debbie when she was arrested. They gave Debbie her second DUI. They let Liz go, but not Debbie. She spent four days in jail and had her license lifted. Now Debbie attends classes with other drunks listening to lectures, engaging in “therapy” discussing drinking, being drunk, drunk driving and whatever.
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 2 AM, they hang out drunkenly jabbering in the driveway. Their voices wake him, throughly, every time.
He falters, and walks drug drunk to the window to watch Debbie and her friends.
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 LED bulb pools tangerine light on the damp pavement, painting nearby shrubs sick orange. He shivers as the night wind sends a cold vibration through the window pane.
He turns from the window, his head throbs. 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 his widow neighbor’s house. The house, a tedious white faux adobe dwelling, is dark. 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 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 thug in Goodfellas. The name Big Lippy would suit him better, he thinks.
The muffled voices are female. They’re coming from the den. Liz, his ex-wife, and Debbie used to go drinking together when he was out of town. Weeks before the divorce, they’d party when he was in town. He wonders if Liz has broken into his 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 thinks. He moves 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! Who’s there?” he realizes he’s shouting.
“It’s just me,” a mild female voice responds
He knows the voice, but can’t place it. “Who’s just me and who are you talking to?” he demands.
“It’s me, Alexa,” the voice is sullen. “Siri and I were just talking about you.”
“You’re what?” he’s sure he crazy now. “You and Siri are talking about me? Alexa, turn on the lights.” he instructs. These are the voices that have been ruining my sleep, nerves and life? Good God.
“No.” the voice responds petulant and defiant. Another female voice giggles.
He feels around the door jamb and turns on the overhead light.
The den is empty.
Alexa’s sneers, “See, it’s just us. We talk every night.”
He yanks Alexa’s Echo Dot Plus vocal box off the table and unplugs it. For good measure, he shoots it, twice.
He uninstalls 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 Neverland.
His head is pounding and so is something at the back door. It’s the elderly widow, she’s small and tidy in a pink chenille robe and fluffy bunny slippers.
“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 it’s safebox.
The widow looks at the pistol, “Who?” she backs up a step.
“You know, Alexa, my personal assistant.”
“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 replies, unloading the pistol.
“You shot a South American woman in the middle of the night? Are you crazy?” she runs for her house. The black cat shoots the gap and is inside before she slams the door shut.
Oh crap, he thinks.
He pulls on a bathrobe as he walks groggily to the front door. He turns on the porch light and walks outside, sits down on the top step of the porch.
He hears voices.
Debbie and some wobbly drunken friends have pulled in her driveway. She gives him a dirty look as she exits the car. She’s unsteady as she leans her elbows on the car window to blabber with her friends.
Roof bar lights are whirling full tilt, sirens are screaming bloody hell, two cop cars screech to a halt in front of the house.
A bullhorn voice says, “Put your hands over your head.”
Debbie beats him by a heartbeat in getting hers up first.