“ Someone To Watch Over Me “   Part 1    by Carrabella Alvarez


When I was younger, I lived in Chicago, in an apartment building, for women only. It was 2 stories with about 20 rooms per floor. The apartments were small efficiencies with full baths, and tiny kitchens. There was a large kitchen and dining area on the first floor. Since I wasn’t much of a cook, I’d buy food and let the real cooks do their thing.


Someone was always on duty at the front desk to keep the building secure and to attend to our basic needs. One night I woke up with a splitting headache. I never got headaches, so I didn’t have any medication. I put my robe on and was about to go downstairs to the front desk when I ‘thought’ I heard a strange sound. A moan, a sigh maybe….It was so faint that I wasn’t sure I heard anything at all.


Then suddenly I wasn’t ‘of’ myself anymore. I had no thoughts, no emotions, no presence to speak of. I was being floated along in a haze. I was moving very fast I guess, but I had no sense of movement. I’m not sure how I got down the long hallway, around the corner, past several rooms until I was in front of one apt. in particular.


The door to that apt was open. It belonged to a woman named Doe. She was curled up on her bed, while another woman stood over her. The other woman had a thick wooden bat raised above her head and was about to hit Doe.  I screamed,


“Karen NOoooooooo!”


My scream didn’t seem to startle her at all, but she did lower the bat. She turned to look at me with a calm, cold stare. I didn’t know if she was going to attack me or not, but I couldn’t move. Instead, she brushed by me, poised, swinging her hips as she walked down the hallway, back to her room. Something about her casualness scared me more than her attacking Doe.


Others woke up and came running when they heard my scream. Someone raced downstairs to call 911. As Doe was put on a gurney, I went back to my room, wondering how in the hell did I get mixed up in an attempted murder!


When the police questioned me, naturally I told them that Karen was the one that attacked Doe. She was arrested and handcuffed. As she walked out the building, she was still as calm as before, like nothing happened.


Later we learned more about Karen. She had done time in prison and a mental institution for killing her children. At the trial, the Judge sentenced her back to the mental institution.


When Doe got out of the hospital, she told us what happened. Doe was gay and Karen liked her. She got upset when she saw Doe with another woman and tried to kill her.


She hit Doe with a thick table leg, not a bat. After the first blow, Doe said she went numb and couldn’t scream or move. She was aware of being hit again but didn’t feel it. The doctors said that if she had been hit in the head one more time, she would have died. So, that’s why I woke up with a headache. She thanked me for saving her life, but I couldn’t take credit for something that happened beyond me, outside of me.


I wondered how I heard that faint moan if Doe was numb and couldn’t make a sound. Completing the mystery was the fact that my apt was quite a distance from hers; all the way down the hallway, around the corner, on the other side. Why didn’t the women in the rooms next to her hear that sound? The apts were small and not sound proof at all, so why didn’t they hear it?

I don’t know the answer to that question or to why I had to save Doe’s life again 6 months later.


Yes, I saved her again. Let me stop here and explain something. I didn’t know Doe that well at all. I knew her name, she was gay and worked every day.  She was thin, quiet and had bad teeth. When ever she smiled or laughed, she covered her mouth with her hand because she was ashamed of her rotten teeth.


After returning from the hospital, Doe had migraine headaches and couldn’t go back to work right away. Her and another woman on the first floor hooked up. All I knew about that woman was that her name was Sally and she had 2 daughters. Her daughters spent weekends at her apt. Other than that, I didn’t know or ask about her life.


One morning, a commotion in the hallway woke me up. It was my only day off work, and I was pissed about being woken up. Just as I opened my door to ask for quiet, Doe came screeching around the corner, heading for the steps. Sally was right on her heels, with a large butcher knife in her hand. I screamed,


“Sally NOooooooo!”


Unlike Karen, my scream did startle Sally and she lost her balance. As she went down, the knife flew out of her hand and I was able to kick it away. I helped her up and held on to her.


She kept saying she was going to kill Doe for cheating on her. Not knowing what else to say, I reminded her of her 2 daughters. If she stabbed Doe, she’d go to jail. What would happen to her girls if she ended up in prison? I begged her to calm down and think.


Sally did calm down. Doe lived to see another day and I got new curtains for my apt.