I should have known that the world wasn’t right when I decided to sleep on the couch that night. But it was one of the first warm nights of the year, and I was desperate for a change of scenery. I awoke suddenly around 1 or 2 am and went to the bathroom. When I returned to the living room, windows open and the cool breeze drifting in and out of the apartment, Lynn was standing next to the couch. “Did you hear that?” she asked.
“That noise. A loud…popping. And then screaming.” I realized what had caused me to wake so suddenly and now that she mentioned it, recalled the screaming as well. My half-awake mind had processed it as being the normal college party screams that seem to come out after dark on the weekend. “The scream–” she continued “–it was terrible. Something must have been terribly wrong.” Recollecting the sounds in my mind I remember placing the popping to the east, at the entrance, and the scream to the west, a few buildings away.
Just then sirens became audible and we could see the red and blue lights flashing at the apartment complex’s entrance. We craned our necks for a better view from the front window, but could see nothing. A man ran in front of the field-house and down the other side of the complex. A single police man followed in hot pursuit. We heard nothing more.
A few buildings down we could hear a large group of people. Their loud voices were speculating what had happened. “Was there a gun?” “I heard a gun!” “Where did he go?” “What is going on?”
Cars started to form a back-up at the complex’s exit, now completely blocked with Urbana police. Why were so many people trying to leave at 2 am? I suggested to Lynn that we go outside and stand on the walkway of our apartment three floors up. Dressed in hoodies, glasses, and our pajama pants we leaned over the railing hoping for a better view. Nothing. A car was sitting with its lights on, backed into the handicapped space, below us with 4-5 passengers. A black man walked over the the car, greeting his friends.
Lynn’s timid voice: “Um, excuse me. Do you know what is going on?”
“Lynn NO!” I pulled her down under the wall that we’d been peering over.
“Lynn. Gunshots? Two little white girls. A car full of black men. A man who appeared to be flashing gang signs at the car. We’re trying to look like we’re not here! Don’t give us away!”
“Oh, jeeze. Sorry! I can hardly see with these glasses.”
We watched the police blotter for weeks. Nothing. My speculation is that a man left a party, possibly in anger. When a gunshot occured a few moments later a female, still at the party screamed–awakening the entire complex. OoooUrbana. You’re so cute.
I no longer slept on the couch.