Mary and I had recently moved into an upstairs apartment in Johnson City, NY. In the downstairs apartment lived a couple with two young daughters and a newborn son. In order not to disturb the neighbors, Barb and Ray did everything they could to keep their young son quiet. So, for many weeks we only heard short outbursts from the baby.
The day came though, when the parents realized this situation could not go on forever. To allow their present course of action to continue would only serve to develop a selfish, spoiled child. They would have to let their baby cry … but what about the neighbors?
Barb paid Mary and me a visit and explained their situation and asked us to be understanding and not get too upset when the boy carried on. “I wouldn’t want anyone calling the police and report me for child abuse,” she said. So, good neighbors and good friends that we were, we agreed.
A couple of weeks passed during which we heard some crying, but it was not overly annoying. Then, one Sunday afternoon I decided to take a nap. I had barely lain down when sonny boy started to cry. In keeping with their resolution, Barb and Ray did not jump to silence him. That made the young lad more irritated so he increased his bellowing. And it kept on. My nap was ruined. I was not going to get any sleep.
When I could stand the screaming no longer, I picked up the telephone and dialed the downstairs apartment.
“Hello. This is Sergeant Frankowski from the Johnson City Police Department. I have had several complaints over the past hour that you are abusing your child. In fact, I can hear screaming from here. I want you to know I have dispatched an officer to your location. He should be there in about twenty minutes and when he knocks on your door he had better not hear any noise.”
“Yessir, I’ll take care of it. Right away.”
“You’d better,” I said officiously.
With the conversation ended, it suddenly got quiet downstairs.
I waited about twenty minutes and then went downstairs. As I stood outside Barb’s door, I heard her and another woman talking. She was telling her about my phone call.
Knock, knock, knock. The sound was loud and rapid. “Open up, police!” I yelled.
“Oh, no. They’re here,” I heard Barb say through her tears as she opened the door.
“It’s you…,” she squealed. And then she slugged me.