A simple knock on the door leads to a tense standoff. Two men, both at a stalemate to take action. One wishes to flee the scene, the other to hold him until police arrive. Time is both their biggest enemy and greatest ally.
Everything about the knock on the door was wrong.
The time: it was the middle of the week, late- but not too late. Not quite a friend pushing the boundaries of social decency, not quite enough to raise your suspicions and put you on edge.
The timing: too slow for a knock and run, too fast for a friendly visit, not quite enough urgency for an emergency. It wasn’t the knock of someone in a rush, nor the three solid knocks of a friend. It was a cadence of two firm knocks and almost a half knock, fading out as if it wasn’t sure it should exist.
The tone: too loud and forced to be cordial, not harsh and stern enough to command attention.
I was in a stage between my evening ritual and my bedtime ritual. I was preparing for bed, but not yet ready to sleep. My pajamas were on but I had no intention of using them.
I was sitting in bed, procrastinating with my phone before making the commitment of deep sleep. That was when the knock came, it hit with a thud then trailed off as if it spoke out of turn.
I turned on the front light and consulted the peephole. It gave me a fish-eye close-up of the gauze door. I opened the locks and, in turn, the door itself.
‘Hey man, you seen my dog?’The knocker asked from the dark side of the gauze. A rich yellow blumed from his shoulders and hat, pouring over him from the light above my doorstep. The brim of his hat pulled an oval shadow down over his face and halfway down his stomach- a dark, dry spot untouched by the fountain of light. He was a tall man of a slender build. His black hooded jumper and tracksuit pants were of the modest variety, well worn and worn out. His only exuberant apparel was the expensive runners he wore, brand named and in immaculate condition. ‘I was walking it here and it ran off the lead.’
What did he expect, walking his dog so late at night? Then I wondered why anyone would walk their dog so late. Then I noticed he wasn’t holding a lead at all. ‘What sort of dog is it?’ I asked.
‘You know, it’s a dog. Brown and shit.’
‘How old is it?’
‘I don’t know man, like three.’ He then dipped his hand down to his knee, ‘it’s about this tall.’ He waved his hand by his knee, making no commitment to an actual height. I couldn’t stomach this display and lost my composure.
‘This is the fucking problem with you people. There’s a park around the corner from here, and an even bigger one just up the road. It would take you thirty seconds to figure that out on Google Maps, and another thirty seconds to imagine a friend’s dog and change the name.’
‘Hey man, I’m just looking for my dog.’ He persisted.
‘No you’re not. I heard about people like you on a podcast. My car is in my fucking parking spot, my light is on, of course I’m going to be home.’
‘Fucking calm down man, you’re acting crazy.’
‘Better than being stupid. I could do the shit you’re trying to do- but because I’d be good at it, I put my skills to use elsewhere. How about you get the fuck out of here before I call the police?’
‘Jesus Christ! I’m leaving- you crazy motherfucker.’ The man turned and left. The light of my front step slid off him as he walked off my front step. I watched him leave and the compulsion overcame me: I just had to fuck with him.
I ran back into my flat to grab my phone and keys. I rifled through a pile of mail on my computer desk and grabbed my knife. It had never been more than a glorified mail opener, but you can never be too careful.
I stuffed my keys into the right pocket of my robe. I held my phone in my right hand, and my left held my knife by the handle, still sheathed, in my left robe pocket.
The man crossed the road and I waited until he activated his central locking, making the car’s blinkers flash. ‘What sort of car is that, a ‘98 Camry? Is it black or that dark green they come in? It’s hard to tell in the dark.’
‘How about you fuck off?’ the man turned to me and said. He puffed his shoulders and elbows out, trying to inflate his tall but slender frame. He took a step towards me.
‘You drive off and I’ll be able to get your rego. I’ve got your description, your car’s description, I’ll give them your number plate too.’
‘I said, Fuck Off!’ he stepped towards me. His long legs put him face to face with me in no time.
‘Take it easy, Kimosabe.’ I held my right hand aloft. The illuminated phone screen had a green band across the top and read CALLING 000. ‘You don’t want to take another step, I’ve got you on speaker.’ A blue circle surrounded the white speaker icon.
‘-triple zero, what state are you in?’ the phone said.
‘Hello, yes? Victoria.’ I said to the phone.
‘Thank you, and do you need police, fire or ambulance?’
‘I’d like police please.’ I shouted at the phone.
‘What’s your emergency?’
‘Give me that fucking phone!’ The man growled and lunged at me. I leaped back a few bounds out of his reach.
‘Fuck you,’ I said to him, ‘I’m escalating this,’ then to the phone, ‘I’ve got shots fired and an officer down!’ I gave them my neighbours address, to try limit any of this coming back to me.
‘There’s not even any police here!’ The man shouted- more to the phone than myself.
‘Do you hear that?’ I shouted down the phone, ‘he said there’s no police here because he shot them.’
‘What’s happening there? What’s going on at the scene?’ the operator asked, a the terse strain of concern coming through the phone.
‘It’s a mess.’ I started. ‘I got this tall skinny guy with a gun. There’s an officer leaning against a car, playing with his insides,’ I even motioned to the spot where the officer would lay, real method acting, ‘he keeps asking to see his kids. How can someone still alive be so cold to the touch?’
‘Fuck this, I’m out of here.’ The man said and turned again.
‘You drive off and I’ll give your plates straight to the police lady.’ I pointed out to him.
‘I’m not a registered police officer. I’m just an emergency services operator.’ She said through the phone. ‘What’s going on there?’ I had started backing up to my front door. The threat of taking his plates was enough for him to follow me, he thought he was gaining ground. Then I had a brilliant idea, I spoke to the phone, ‘Hold on, I’ll try not to lose the call while I do this.’
With the call still going, I turned on Wi-fi and opened Facebook. The vibrant green of the call lit up the task bar as the app opened, an ugly contrast to the Facebook blue. I’d never done it before, but I found the option to start live-streaming. The camera turned on and I activated the flash, illuminating the man in the driveway. ‘There we go, I’ve got the guy on live-stream,’ I said to the operator.
‘You’re live-streaming now too?’ the operator asked.
‘Yeah, on Facebook.’
‘What? Fucking stop that!’ the man lashed out and grabbed my right arm, trying to pry the phone from my hand. I pulled back and twisted, feeling his nails claw as he struggled for grip. I wrenched my arm free and aimed the flash at his face.
‘Fucking try that again.’ I said, removing my knife from its sheath and drawing it out. I made sure to hold my right arm forward, keeping the knife out of frame. ‘You want a new hole to breathe out of, or to shit out of?’
‘What’s going on there?’ The operator shouted through the phone.
‘He’s got a knife!’ I shouted back.
‘Fuck off, he’s got the knife.’ The man shouted.
‘Who has the knife?’ The operator shouted.
‘I’m escalating this again,’I said to the man, ‘You want to know what’s going on here?’ I said to the operator, ‘He has now forced himself on me and has inserted me into him.’ I made sure to get my pronouns right, lest I reverse the situation by accident. ‘He has forced himself on top of me and is making me reverse-rape him.’
‘I’m not raping no one!’
‘That’s right- you’re making me rape you!’
‘Fuck this, I’m out of here.’ The man said, turning back to his car. He had turned his back on someone with a knife in him, he didn’t strike me as a smart man.
‘You do that,’ I explained, ‘and I’ll live-stream your car, your number plate, and the direction you’re heading in- all to the five people currently watching.’ At that he stopped. He became the unmovable object to my unstoppable force.
‘Let me put you through to someone from Victoria Police.’ The operator pushed us up the line, and made us someone else’s problem.
‘Sick one.’ I heard a snap of hold music before someone else took the line, a man this time.
‘This is Victoria Police, what’s the emergency there?’ This voice was gruff and authoritative.
‘This guy, he just beat his wife, came here and shot a bunch of cops, and now he’s holding a knife to my throat whilst reverse raping me.’ I was surprised how elaborate this story had become.
‘I don’t even have a wife.’ The man shouted to the phone.
‘He’s even boasting about it, I think he beat her to death.’ I told the police operator.
‘Reverse rape is not a thing. Any non-consensual sexual act is rape, regardless of what it is and who perpetrates it.’ The police operator was a few conversations behind the action.
‘You better get someone here, he’s now lighting various spot fires in dense vegetative areas.’ I said.
‘This fucking guy.’ The man said, to himself this time. He stood there, it was all he could do with the live stream on him.
‘Do you require the Fire Brigade as well?’ The police operator asked.
‘No, I just want someone here now. How do I make this priority? I’ve got the guy standing right here, I’m live streaming him, I don’t want to hear it’s going to take half an hour and have him run off. I can’t hold him here forever and you’ll never catch him if he flees the scene.’
‘You’re live-streaming? We have the details of your call and the police will do everything they can to service your call as soon as possible.’
‘There’s a police station not five minutes down the road. This guy won’t put up a fight. Just get one of the fat office fucks working night shift in Northcote to come arrest him.’ The man walked in a tight circle, cursing to himself. ‘You know how fucked you are, don’t you?’ I said to him. ‘Try take off and I’ll get your plates so they can track you easier. Stick around and I’ll thumb police up your arse like Skittles.’
‘I’ve notified the police of your call and told them to make it a priority.’
‘Have you got a time frame there? This guy’s beating women, shooting cops, starting fires, and raping me. I can’t hold on to him forever.’ I looked at my phone and noticed the number of viewers went down to four. ‘And you’ve just lost twenty percent of your audience, you’re not very interesting either.’
‘I’ve just been notified police have been dispatched.’
‘You hear that, kimosabe? These are Victorian police, you better hope they only shoot you.’
‘I’ll fucking get you for this.’ The man’s threat rang as hollow as his voice. ‘You think you can pull this shit on me.’
‘What about what you tried pulling on me? That “seen my fucking dog?” bullshit. You deserve it.’
Then there was a sound. Not the soaring sound of a lone car along the road. A constant, but oscillating whooping, and it was growing louder. ‘You hear that?’ I asked the man. He turned his nose to the sky and listened too.
‘Sirens…’ He said, we both tried to figure out what type of siren it was, ‘fuck!’
‘Police!’ I shouted. The man turned and started to run- not to his car- but down the street, towards the intersection. I turned to run too, but did not chase him. I ran back to my own place, my slippered feet dashing the last thing seen on the live stream.