Rear Window

timber windows MelbourneI began the summer of 2016 sanguine, with expectations of spending carefree afternoons in the sun, and enjoying as much watersports as I could fit into my schedule. These hopes were shattered on the day I had my cycling accident. I came out of hospital with a head wrapped in comical bandages and my right leg in a great big cast. Alas, the days shone beautifully but they were not mine to enjoy.

It was during these sad weeks that I directed my wheelchair to the timber windows and cowered bitterly by the glass. I tortured myself with the vicarious pleasures of those outside; the warm kiss of sunlight on their skin, the scents of blossoms in the air and the song of the icecream truck tinkling down the street. These joys, forbidden to my broken-legged self, only increased my neurotic and increasingly paranoid vigil.

Thus the day came when my attention was diverted to a neighbouring tenement where a labourer was carrying out window repairs. Melbourne apartment buildings are not too closely knit so I called my maid for the binoculars. Then, I watched as the worker removed the old window frames, preparing to install the new, when suddenly I noticed the horror that was transpiring behind… It all happened so fast – a strange man creeping up behind the woman, inching closer with menace in his eyes. All this occurred just meters behind the unwitting labourer who was repairing the couple’s timber windows. Melbourne police arrived as soon as I dialled triple-0, but by the time they got there it was too late – the  woman has been surprised.

At the time the most disconcerting thing was that the man doing the window repairs didn’t hear a thing, continuing his task with a placid grin on his face. I later learned that he was deaf. Both he and I were powerless to save the woman. And I’ve been haunted by that scene ever since.