One evening, I was in my apartment watching TV when I heard some banging on the door.
I didn’t answer the first set of knocks. It was pretty late, almost midnight, so knocks at the door were pretty unusual for the time. However, the banging started up again, this time accompanied by tiny squeaks for help.
When I opened the door, I was greeted by a pair of extremely pale faces, which I did not fully recognise. They were people from one of the apartments across the hall and they were panicking.
“She’s broken her arm! We need to call the doctor!” shouted one of them, a young red-headed woman who was almost in a panic.
“Uh, sorry?” I asked.
The other girl with her was slightly more composed, “Our friend fell down the stairs. She’s broken her arm and she has all our phones. Could you call the ambulance for us?”
Further down the hall, I could hear a woman screaming incoherently and also a man shouting slightly more coherently.
“Oh s***, she’s bleeding all over!” shouted the coherent shouting, “Someone get me some towels!”
I knew that I should help, so I pulled out my mobile phone. At the time, it didn’t really occur to me that anything was strange about the situation. Except for the screaming, which was definitely strange.
“Sure,” I said, “Which apartment are you from?”
“xxxx” said the other girl.
I walked with the two girls over to their apartment. Their friend, had indeed, fallen down the stairs and broken her arm. What they didn’t tell me was that their friend was stark naked, shrieking and sitting on what looked to be a pile of broken landlines and mobile phones. Also, they didn’t mention the extent of the damage to her arm, which had broken so badly that the bone was jutting out of her skin. Blood was dripping down her arm. It was a gory sight.
They also didn’t mention that she was also very violent. When I walked over, she raised the broken arm over her head and flung a towel at the coherent shouter, splattering blood everywhere.
“ARRRRRRRRRARRRRRGGHGHG GO AWAY GO AWAY GO AWAAAAAY!” the naked woman shrieked, “GO AWAY!”
The coherent shouter was now a little more cowed, “Look, just cover up, okay? You’re badly hurt.”
“GOAAAWWWWAAAAAAYYYYY!” shrieked the woman, her words now just one long ululation, “GOAWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”
She bounced on her nest of telephones, which made her shriek in pain again. I immediately backed away and called the ambulance, the gist of the conversation went something like this:
A Becky Lee: Hello? 000? I’m calling from <Address>
Dispatcher: Okay, what seems to be the problem.
A Becky Lee: Erm, there’s a lady here with a broken arm. The bone’s sticking out of the arm. Also, she’s screaming and naked.
Dispatcher: Are you her friend? Can you give her first aid?
A Becky Lee: No, but her friends are here. She’s pretty violent though.
Dispatcher: Can you put one of them on the line?
At which point, I had no choice but to surrender my phone to one of the girls. They talked to the dispatcher for a while, then handed the phone back to me.
The shrieking woman was still shrieking, but her heart didn’t seem to be in it anymore. After some time, one of her male friends managed to drape the towel over her without her throwing it back at him. I kept my distance.
I’d like to say that I made myself marginally useful while we waited for the ambulance, but I didn’t. Mostly, I hung back far enough so that the shrieking naked lady couldn’t throw anything at me and generally didn’t get in the way. Honestly, I didn’t know very much about first aid at the time and was pretty wary of approaching someone so hostile.
A while later, the ambulance men rang my phone. They were outside, but couldn’t get past the security doors. I headed downstairs and showed them through to the 12th floor. They had brought a stretcher with them. I don’t know what they did, but the next thing I knew, they’d managed to get the naked girl into the stretcher, covered her in a towel and were whisking her away.
Her friends thanked me and that was the last I ever saw of them.
About a month later, I got to see them again, as they were being arrested for distributing drugs.
The moral of the story is always make sure that you are wearing clothes when they come to take you away.
Incidentally, if you ever run into any trouble in Australia, dialing 000 will get you the emergency number, which is shared between the ambulance, police and fire department. Hilariously, if you do, in fact, dial 911 during an emergency situation, you’ll be put through to an automated voice message instructing you to hang up and dial 000.