Sebastian  MAY 31 2004

As I sat at my computer last night, a cry arose from outside the window. A woman, distressed about something. Figuring it was just a television, reveler from a nearby party, or someone facetiously wailing about trivial things to a friend on the phone, I ignored it and went back to my work. But they continued, the distressed cries. I began to catch snippets of her lamentations:

"Sebastian...why...don't leave me...accident...don't die...can't live without you..."

Concerned, I got up and went to the window in the living room. I could hear her more clearly here, talking to herself or maybe to God. Her dog Sebastian had had an accident of some sort. The woman was almost hysterical at this point, so it was hard to tell what had happened or if Sebastian was alive or dead.

Thinking that the dog had fallen out a window into the space between my building and the next (about an eight to ten foot distance), I opened the window and stuck my head out to investigate. No sign of Sebastian. I could hear the woman even more clearly than before, still repeating the same words over and over. I strained out the window, trying to locate her apartment; she needed some help from a calm party, someone who could call 911, 311, the emergency pet hospital, or whatever one does for critically injured pets. The sound bounces around so much between the buildings that she could have been anywhere, my building, the building across the way, even in the buildings behind ours.

I was about to put my shoes on to see if I could find the woman somewhere in our building when I heard dialing. She'd finally snapped herself out of her hysteria and was calling a friend. The conversation calmed her; after a couple sentences, her distressed voice lowered and I couldn't hear her anymore. A few minutes passed, my heartrate slowed, and I heard a buzzer (on the floor below, I think) and then running up the stairs. As the woman answered the door and let the person in (her friend? a paramedic?), I heard very little, just a "hi, where is he?"

A lot of people in NYC live alone, and all they have to keep them company sometimes are their pets. Sounds silly to some, but a person can love a pet as much as they can a person, and their death is no less shocking and painful. I hope Sebastian is alright; it sounds like that woman really cared about him. Makes me sad thinking about it. Hope he's OK.

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