There’s a lot of crazy people in Berlin. One of them is my neighbor. I can’t describe my neighbor because I have never seen her. I only know her voice. Her voice is hovering in our backyard like a banshee’s wail. Constantly. With interruptions, of course.
The backyard is closed in between four houses. I think the wailing woman lives opposite from my house, but I’m not quite sure. There’s a bit of an echo which distorts the sounds so you can’t really make up where exactly they’re coming from. I was never able to catch a glimpse of my neighbor. There’s a big tree in front of my window so I can’t see all the windows and balconies across the backyard.
So, how can I describe my banshee neighbor. I always imagined her to be fat, to have a pig’s snout, short, curly hair, wearing a jersey dress and slippers. I know this is rotten, but that’s the way it is. Back to discussing her: she must be a very angry person. She is bellowing, sometimes for hours, and over the past couple of years, it has gotten worse. In the beginning I thought she was fighting with somebody, but as there was always only her voice to be heard, I guess there is nobody else. Maybe she is fighting with herself. Or with a bodiless presence – who knows.
I never could tell what she was yelling, although it’s very loud. Very loud. Very loud. The only word I was able to pick up in all these years is “Raus!”, which means “Out!”. It seems as if she was always screaming the same three or four sentences. She is repeating herself. She repeats the same things on and on and on and on.
Aside from that, I don’t know. She is like this uncanny presence which won’t leave you alone. She makes feel you crazy, too. I don’t like that. Sometimes I work at home instead of at the office, but it’s almost impossible, because right when I start thinking and writing, the banshee starts wailing again.
At some point, I started taking it personally. I felt haunted. That was a couple of weeks ago when I was ill and had to stay in bed for seven days. The wailer was hollering away – and I’m not exaggerating – the whole day long, like 24/7, seven days in a row. I wanted to kill her. I didn’t know what to do. Call the police? That was not an option. Call the psychiatric ward? Yeah, sure. But I didn’t dare. If I had called the ward to tell them there was a banshee’s wail in my backyard, they would have come to pick me up instead of her.
One day I overheard two women in the yard, talking about her. The one lady was telling the other one that the banshee wanted to commit suicide, that she hated foreigners and stuff like that. After a couple of days at home I couldn’t take it anymore. I yelled back at her and told her to shut up, cursing. I felt embarrassed afterwards.
Last Monday she started screaming very early in the morning. I had to go to work a couple of hours later and I wanted to sleep some more, so I put in my earplugs and rolled over to the other side and slept till somebody rang my doorbell about two hours later. I was too lazy to get up, assuming it was just the postman. I heard two men’s voices outside in the backyard. They sounded kind of weird. I had to get up to go to work anyways and took a look outside the window. The men were police officers looking for something. They were trying to figure out which of the four was the right entrance to the house where they were heading to.
I haven’t heard the banshee since then. I think she’s gone.