Cover image for The prisoner of Vandam Street : a novel
The prisoner of Vandam Street : a novel
Friedman, Kinky.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2004]

Physical Description:
228 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Alfred Hitchcock's classic film Rear Window gets an affectionate kick in the butt in this homage from master crime writer, philosopher, and equal-opportunity offender Kinky Friedman.

It's a case of malaria versus murder when private dick extraordinaire Kinky Friedman comes down with a tropical disease, in the jungle known as New York City, and is confined to his loft on Vandam Street in lower Manhattan, a prisoner in his own home with only his cat and black puppet head as company (neither of whom are great conversationalists).
With little to do but stare out the window in between bedridden bouts of fever and hallucinations, Kinky calls on assistance from the stalwart Village Irregulars, who proceed to dish out their own uniquely skewed brand of tea and sympathy, turning the loft into a virtual Mardi Gras of confusion and drunken debauchery.
Suffering almost as much from company overload as from his fever, Kinky welcomes a rare moment of calm as he finds himself once again alone in his loft. Resuming his position at the kitchen window, he spots a pretty young woman in an apartment across the street. What he hopes might be titillating turns terrifying, however, as a man joins the woman and proceeds to attack her. Sure that he's witnessed a crime, Kinky calls in the cops, but, upon investigating his claim, they can find neither a victim nor an apartment across the street. In addition, no one else saw or heard anything that would ndicate a crime had taken place. Was it foul play or merely a fevered dream?
Convinced that their friend is about to slip off into the land of eternal slumber, the Village Irregulars increase their vigilance and in the process raise the Kinkster's irritability level to an all-time high. Not to be deterred, however, Kinky sticks to his story and is rewarded when a few days later he sees the man in the apartment again, but this time with a gun.
Outrageous, audacious, and ingeniously crafted, The Prisoner of Vandam Street is vintage Kinky: irreverent, clever, and full of the hardened philosophy and mordant wit that has earned him a vast and devoted readership. But what more would you expect from the writer The New York Times has called "The world's funniest, bawdiest, and most politically incorrect country music singer turned mystery writer"?

Author Notes

Kinky Friedman is the author of twelve novels, including Blast from the Past, Road Kill, The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover, God Bless, John Wayne, Armadillos & Old Lace; and Elvis, Jesus and Coca Cola.

He lives in a little green trailer in a little green valley deep in the heart of Texas.

(Publisher Provided) Author, singer, and songwriter Kinky Friedman was born in Chicago, Illinois on October 31, 1944. He grew up on a ranch in central Texas and received a B. A. in Psychology and Plan II Honors from the University of Texas at Austin in 1966. After graduation, he severed two years with the Peace Corps in Borneo.

In the early 1970's, he formed a country and western band called The Texas Jewboys. His music mixed social commentary with humor and dealt with topics such as racism and anti-Semitism. He reached cult status and was a musical guest on Saturday Night Live in October 1976.

After his music career ended in the 1980's, he started writing detective novels featuring a fictionalized version of himself solving crimes in New York City. Since April 2001, he has been a regular columnist for Texas Monthly magazine, but stopped in March 2005 due to his campaign bid for governor of Texas.

He founded Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, whose mission is to care for stray, abused, and aging animals. He currenlty lives at Echo Hill Ranch which is located near Kerrville, Texas. In 2012, Kinky Friedman partnered up with Willie Nelson to write Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road which became a New York Times Best Seller.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In the sixteenth cracked caper for Friedman's eponymous sleuth, theinkster is laid low by latent malaria from his Peace Corps days; while enduring the casual ministrations of his rat pack, he seems to witness a woman being beaten in the adjacent building--or was it just a fever dream? Shades of Rear Window? Well, not quite. For the uninitiated, this series is rather like what might result if some hallucinogenic muse influenced Tom Robbins to pen mysteries; this time around, though, the loopy tone and gonzo yuks fail to compensate for a listless and repetitive tale that takes as its crux the rather irrelevant question of our hero's sanity. There are some delightful episodes of delirium amid the ubiquitous cat turds, but even die-hard fans will scud through these horse latitudes in hopes of more diverting antics ahead; while waiting, they might try Christopher Brookmyre, Tim Sandlin, orerome Charyn's Isaac Sidel series. --David Wright Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The irrepressible, hysterically funny Friedman sounds an uncharacteristic melancholy note in his 15th novel featuring a quasi-fictional version of the former country-western singer himself as an amateur detective. While his earlier books (Greenwich Killing Time, etc.) contained serious insights into human nature, they were mostly notable for Friedman's engaging persona-cynical, humorous, free-associating and often politically incorrect. Here Friedman is hospitalized with malaria, suffering the bumbling efforts of his motley Village Irregulars to nurse him back to health. His delirium and disorientation lead him to doubt his senses when a chance glance out his window shows a woman being physically abused in an adjacent apartment on a floor that later proves to contain no apartments, in an obvious nod to Hitchcock's Rear Window. Fortunately, one of his many friends, a private investigator, gives him the benefit of the doubt and looks into the case. Still, Friedman must play a passive role, and feels even more out of touch when his PI friend does his preliminary digging on the Internet. While the punchy, acerbic writing will be familiar and pleasurable to Friedman fans, this remains an atypical effort that hopefully will be followed by a return to a less downbeat plot. Agent, David Vigliano. (Mar. 8) Forecast: The publicity surrounding Friedman's tongue-in-cheek campaign for the Texas governorship, plus praise for his prose (Friedman also writes a column for Texas Monthly magazine) from George W. Bush, will give a lift during this election season. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Rear Window with a Kinky twist. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter Eleven One of the interesting things about an illness like malaria, in which you float from altered state to altered state, is that you never know if something that has just happened is really something that has just happened. As the fever overtook me again, I found myself deeply troubled by the practical unlikelihood of Piers's visit. I wondered if my old friend from down under had actually been in my loft at all. The only witness other than the cat, of course, was McGovern, and he didn't seem to be revealing too many cards at the moment. I would, apparently, be forced to wait to see if Piers returned, no doubt carrying a large tucker bag and many bottles of grog. Or maybe, even now, he was peacefully sailing on a yacht somewhere off the Great Barrier Reef. Maybe he hadn't really been in my bedroom at all. These are the kinds of thoughts that will drive a sane man crazy and sometimes cause a crazy man to see a world that even a sailor never gets the chance to see. It is a world of the mind, a world of the restless, troubled spirit, a world every bit as real as any other that man has yet been able to invent. It is there for the asking, in fact. All you have to do is acquire a severe case of lurid, lingering, lonely malaria. Fevered thoughts of any manner can be interrupted, however, when a large, half-Irish, half-Indian, drunk and incoherent journalist comes reeling in the most dangerous and disoriented fashion into one's little sickroom screaming at the top of his lungs. "I had a dream!" shouted McGovern. The cat bolted for the living room and the relative safety of the davenport. "Kayan witches?" I inquired, shivering at the thought. "Say again?" said McGovern, leaning forward and almost falling on top of me. "Lyin' bitches?" "Forget it, McGovern," I said, losing all patience with him. "What the hell did you have a dream about? Did you dream of Jeannie with the light tan folks? Did you dream you saw Joe Hill last night? Did you dream of little white children and little black children playing together?" "You don't have to make fun of me," said McGovern with growing belligerence. "My dreams are just as important as anybody else's." "Fine. So what the hell did you dream about?" "I dreamed a large kangaroo came hopping into the loft." "That's not so far off the mark," I said. "Say again?" said McGovern. "You dreamed of Lewis and Clark?" "That's right, McGovern. I dreamed of Lewis and Clark. It means I'm going to take a trip soon. Unfortunately, I can't leave this fucking loft." McGovern seemed to mull this information over studiously for a moment or two, then removed his large presence from the bedroom for a while, only to return some time later bearing a tray of hot coffee and a sympathetic aura, which, of course, made me feel guilty for being so acerbic with him. McGovern was a loyal and devoted friend, and I wondered, if the situation had been reversed, if I would have been as attentive to his needs as he was being to mine. Probably I would not have had the time. I'd have had to hire a large Bulgarian masseuse to take care of him. Ah, well, I thought, friendship is manifested in many different ways and sometimes it isn't manifested at all. I was beginning to understand that malaria, like love, is one of the true deceivers in life. One moment you feel almost human and the very next, you feel you're at death's door and you wish the bastards would let you in. Dreams are real and reality's a dream. Day is night and night is day. And Einstein's Theory, of course, applies to victims of malaria: Time is relative and it goes faster if you don't have any visits from your relatives. Fortunately, I come from a small, ill-tempered family and I have very few relatives and they all live far away in Lower Baboon's Asshole. If I have a family, I suppose it is the Village Irregulars and with God shining her countenance upon us, somehow we've gotten by. So far. But where was I before I began hearing voices in my head? Oh, yes. Piers Akerman, one of the most reliable friends I had, did not return that night as he'd indicated he would. This led me into a state of mild panic because I had now begun to believe that he'd never actually been there at all. I guess the thing to have done would have been to have called Piers in Australia to determine if his recent visit had indeed occurred or if his seemingly robust appearance was merely another dreaded chimera of my fevered, disintegrating, and sometimes rather unsavory sensibilities. If I'd lost one Piers, however, I'd apparently gained a Ratso and a Brennan. I woke up from a highly repellent dream, which featured Kafka being bull-fucked by a kangaroo, to hear Ratso and Brennan engaged in an equally unpleasant manner of intercourse. They were in the other room, but the cat and I could hear their conversation quite clearly. "I don't want the poor sod to croak on my watch, mate! He should be back in hospital!" "Bullshit! Why do you think the doctor discharged him?" "Because the sawbones is a poncey dothead! He's a tosser!" "And you're a fucking idiot! Malaria is rarely fatal -- " "Have you looked at him lately, mate? If you'd put away your hockey stick long enough maybe you'd notice that he looks whiter than his sheets! His mind is almost completely gone! He thinks Piers Akerman was here last night!" "I don't care if he thinks Father Damien was here last night! That's what he's supposed to think! He has malaria!" "Bollocks! He's losin' light, I tell you. He's going downhill fast, mate. He should be back in hospital! It's on your head if he croaks!" "He's not going to croak! McGovern was here all night!" "Oh, McGovern's Florence Nightingale, is he? I wouldn't trust that dodgy bloke to watch a scone rise!" "And maybe Piers Akerman was here last night." "Not likely, mate. He's 15,989 kilometers away -- " "You Brits are all the same. Why can't you just give it to me in miles?" "I'm not a Brit, mate. I'm just a lucky Irish lad who happened to be born in jolly old England." "If I'd been there at the time I would've checked your father's dick with my hockey stick and stopped the inception. Don't create unnecessary trouble here. Everything's under control." At that precise moment, a great tumult ensued upon the land. From my dank little bedroom, it sounded very much like the barbarians were at the gate. Moments later, I realized that, indeed, they were. "Mother of God!" shouted Ratso. "Look down on the sidewalk!" "Sweet leapin' Jesus!" shouted Brennan. Screams and shrieks of an altogether unearthly nature could clearly be heard from the street. The sound of a windowpane smashing filled the cat and me with anxiety. We cringed in our little back bedroom, torn between mortal fear and feline curiosity. "Do we throw them down the puppethead?" asked Ratso. "Might as well, mate," said Mick Brennan. "When Piers Akerman and Mike McGovern get this heavily monstered, the entire Polish Army couldn't stand in their way." Copyright © 2004 by Kinky Friedman Chapter Twelve For the next several days a Mardi Gras-like atmosphere seemed to reign in the loft at 199B Vandam Street. Some of the lesbians from Winnie Katz's dance class on the floor above even dropped in to join the festivities. You might think this rather outrageous behavior might not be in the better interests of a malaria patient, but you'd be wrong. Actually, it was just what the doctor ordered. For a while, at least, it lifted me out of my fevered and melancholy state and put me into very high spirits indeed. I wasn't over the malaria. Even I understood that. But, just possibly, I was over feeling sorry for myself. And that, gentile reader, is a giant step for any man to take. The cat, to be sure, was not as understanding. Cats never are. She longed for the days when I'd sit at my desk, cobwebs attaching themselves from cigar to my cowboy hat, waiting for a case to materialize. I could hardly remember these days myself. Solving a crime, staking out a building with Rambam, pounding the pavement in search of bad guys, pounding my penis in an effort at self-gratification -- all these were now things of the past. Fighting crime was the furthest thing from my mind. I was currently fighting merely to retain what was left of my mind and to survive this stubborn and unforgiving malady. It was rather fortunate, indeed, that no investigation had recently come my way. I wouldn't have had a clue how to deal with it. Not only did the cat despise the party-making atmosphere that now often perpetrated itself upon the formerly peaceful confines of the loft, the loft itself looked like it'd taken a direct hit from a daisy-cutter. Beer cans and liquor bottles and plates containing half-eaten dinners were strewn all over the place. Mick Brennan kept promising he'd clean everything up, but so far very little progress appeared to have been made. To add to the clutter, the cat, perhaps understandably, had returned to her previous format of vindictively dumping upon practically every clean surface that my care-providers had somehow managed to miss. The result of all this was not a pleasant one to observe, much less to live amongst, but somehow the human spirit triumphed and we all managed. I managed to periodically even forget that I was a spiritual shut-in. I got out of bed fairly often now, puttered about the loft, looked for something or someone to do, found nothing, and often as not, returned to my bed in a surprisingly weakened state. Malaria is a whore. Malaria is a tar baby. It is a noxious housepest, one of many, I might add, who stays and stays and stays. After periods of feeling relatively normal, I would suddenly find the fever and the shaking chills returning with a vengeance, demolishing my temporary good spirits, turning my world upside-down once again. I was, in general, certainly not myself. As Piers Akerman, I believe, observed: "The fact that the Kinkster is not himself is a silver lining for everybody else." There may have been a small kernel of truth to this statement, but I've always believed friendship is overrated, just as taking a Nixon is often underrated. I also believe that no one can truly win friends and influence people; people who like you in spite of yourself will be called friends, and those are the ones upon whom you may someday have some trivial effect. People rarely, if ever, truly "influence" others. We are all too culture-bound, too much creatures of narrow habit, too influenced by "us" to ever be much influenced by "them." At least I wasn't feeling like Kafka anymore. The world was not out to get me. It was out to get everybody and sooner or later, no doubt, it would. If I could've kept up in the drinking department with McGovern, Piers, and Brennan, I probably would've drunk myself to death, thereby at least curing the malaria. But I couldn't keep up with them. Nobody currently living in the world could. Maybe Spencer Tracy or John Wayne or Ira Hayes or Edgar Allan Poe could but they had all been bugled to Jesus, no doubt, all with a bottle in their hands. The cat, of course, hated drunken behavior in humans and, quite irrationally, she maintained her hatred of Ratso, the only care-giver who drank in moderation. Ratso was Jewish, of course, and Jews are not often alcoholics. It's simply not the way of their people. Jews may have many other obnoxious behaviors, but one of them is not drinking. The Jew is somewhat culturally deprived in this country, however, because, growing up as a child he almost never hears the three words that most Americans live by and have grown to love: "Attention Wal-Mart Shoppers!" Late one night, while experiencing one of my more severe attacks of fever, I found myself mulling over the possibility that the cat was a Nazi. This would explain her hatred of Ratso. It would not, of course, explain why she continued to contentedly live in my loft. It was conceivable, I thought, that the cat could be a Nazi spy, fighting down her inherent anti-Semitic tendencies until her mission in America was completed. This might go a ways toward explaining her rather unsavory dumping behavior. Working against this theory, I reflected, was the indisputable fact that the cat had Jewish eyes that were, like all true Jewish eyes, sad, beautiful, and indefatigably distrustful of people. The cat as a Nazi, I had to admit, was somewhat far-fetched, but life, malaria, and -- well -- sometimes cats, will do that to you. In the end, as you might suspect, I didn't buy the theory. For the cat was sleeping peacefully next to me on the pillow, her head resting lovingly on my shoulder. Clearly, she loved me as much as a cat can love a man and I, for my part, loved her as much as a man can love a cat. Between the two of us, I thought, we very probably were imbued with more love than all the Nazis in the world. But loving someone, whether or not that someone happens to be a cat, does not necessarily mean that you can sleep. Malaria can be so debilitating, can so ravage the system, that you can't sleep when you need to sleep, you can't shit when you need to shit, you can't laugh when you need to laugh, and you can't say what you need to say. It's a little bit, in fact, the way most of us live every day of our lives. Since I couldn't sleep, I got up and began rummaging restlessly through the drawers and cabinets and closets of the loft. I didn't know what I was looking for but most people fall into that department most of their lives: the lost and never found. It helps to know what you're looking for, but it's no guarantee you'll still want it once you find it. When I began puttering about the living room I discovered that none of my supposed care-givers were anywhere in sight. Far from disturbing my fragile constitution, this unusual occurrence caused a small wave of peace to billow over my heart. I had not been alone in the loft since the whole ordeal had begun, and now I was positively luxuriating in my solitude. To borrow a colorful Aussie expression from Piers Akerman, the loft did look rather "shithouse," but at least for the moment we now had the population explosion somewhat under control. Piers's huge appetite for food, alcohol, and life did not have to be constantly attended to. There were no sounds of bickering between Brennan and McGovern or Brennan and Ratso. All in all, the place seemed pretty peaceful. This is not to say that I was ungrateful for the care and concern of the Village Irregulars. The medical practice well understands that malaria patients, like many other patients of many other disorders, tend to overdo things when they think they're getting better. The result is invariably a discouraging and damaging relapse, placing the patient's prognosis further in jeopardy than it previously had been. This is what the members of the medical practice believe, but they are only correct about half the time. That's why the practice of medicine is called a practice. I hadn't smoked a cigar in a long time, so I thought I'd give it a try. I wandered over to my old desk, sat down heavily in the chair, and lifted the deerstalker cap off the top of Sherlock Holmes's porcelain head. I carefully extracted one Epicure Number 2 Cuban cigar from the depths of Sherlock's cranium, lopped off the butt with a silver butt-cutter given to me by Billy Joe Shaver on our most recent musical tour of Australia, and set fire to it with a kitchen match. The cat, who was now positioned on the desk perfectly equidistant between my two red telephones, watched with quiet encouragement. To her it seemed as if I were getting back to normal. To me, the two little Statue of Liberty torches that I saw reflected in the eyes of the cat reminded me of the wistful freedom I currently did not enjoy. I puffed peacefully on the cigar for a time and wished fervently that I could be my old self again. But deep in my soul I felt as ephemeral and insubstantial as the blue-gray smoke of my cigar, dissipating slowly into the lesbian sky. If my faculties, both physical and spiritual, did not return to me soon, I would not survive my confinement in this loft. Claustrophobia, not malaria, would eventually do me in. "Will the game ever be afoot again?" I said to the plaster saint, the ceramic muse, the whatever-the-hell-he-was-made-of god that was Sherlock Holmes. He did not answer. This was good. Maybe I was getting better. "I hate to say it," I said to the cat, "but I'm almost ready to tackle an investigation." The cat was conducting her own investigation at the moment. She was investigating her anus. Possibly, she was just trying to get the taste out of her mouth after sampling some of the plates of leftover food lying about. At any rate, she did not understand that smoking the cigar, at least momentarily, put me in touch with myself, brought me to my senses, made me realize that my life was nothing without a mystery. Maybe this was why I soon found myself standing at the kitchen window, scanning the narrow horizons of Vandam Street, looking through a pair of old, not to say archaic, opera glasses. This museum relic had been given to me by my old friend, Aunt Anita. Aunt Anita had a little dog named Ipo, which means "sweetheart" in Hawaiian. Both Aunt Anita and Ipo had long since gone to Jesus. Now, only I remained, looking at the world through her old opera glasses, searching, searching, for something I'd lost on yesterday street. Copyright © 2004 by Kinky Friedman Chapter Thirteen If I hadn't have been in a state of malarial unfocusment, I probably never would have seen it in the first place. I also probably wouldn't have been standing at the kitchen window with a pair of ancient opera glasses hovering just above my beezer. But there I was. And there it was. A small square of light in a world of darkness. "I can't believe it!" I shouted to the cat. "This little booger really works!" The cat's interest seemed mildly piqued. At least she seemed curious enough to jump off the desk and hop up beside me on the windowsill. Coming from a cat, that's quite a vote of confidence. The square of light was apparently an apartment or loft in the building across the street which I'd always taken to be just an old warehouse. People who looked at my building, I reflected, very possibly just took it to be an old warehouse. Yet, beneath the facades, behind the exteriors, under the waves, between the sheets, inside the hearts, where nobody looks is always where the real show is taking place. I had no idea what time it was or what day it was. All I knew was that it was dark outside and it was late and there was a small table inside the lighted square with a vase of flowers on it. "Looks like Still Life with Woodpecker, " I hazarded, in a rather half-hearted effort to keep the cat in the game. Mentioning a bird usually helped, but I could see that her interest was rapidly waning. The fact is, my interest was waning, as well, until the woman came into the frame. Indeed, before I saw her, I'd gotten bored and had shifted my attention to a cat going through a parked garbage truck. You'd think my cat, who lived, relatively speaking, in the very lap of luxury, might have some little degree of empathy for the stray cat poring over the garbage. This was not the case, however. The cat saw the other cat, gave a slight mew of distaste, hopped down from the windowsill, and immediately redirected her attention to her own anus. Socially speaking, I was somewhat disappointed in the cat. Maybe there were some Freudian aspects to the situation that I was missing. I didn't want to go crazy thinking about it. Maybe a cat licking her own anus, another cat going through a garbage truck, and a vase of cut flowers in an empty apartment was all there was to life. It was while I aimed the opera glasses one last time at the vase of flowers that I saw the woman enter the picture. She seemed to adjust the flowers slightly in the vase, then she walked over to the window and appeared to be gazing down on Vandam Street, possibly waiting for someone. She was not scantily clad or anything like that. She was wearing a dark house robe, or it could have been a kimono. Her hair was long and dark and cascaded down to her shoulders which, like the rest of her figure that I could see, seemed trim and lithe. She looked quite beautiful with her arms held together under her breasts in an attitude of wistful waitingness, almost the stoic pose of an island maiden standing on the shore, longing for her sailor to return. Maybe it was the malaria talking, but I had to tell someone what I felt for the girl, so I tried again to engage the cat. "Look at this beautiful young woman," I said. "She's a modern-day Juliet waiting for her Romeo." The cat never had cared much for the classics. Nor did she appear to ever evince much sympathy for the underdog. For those reasons, and probably many others, she continued to callously lick her anus. "Stop licking your anus!" I shouted. The cat did not stop. The woman, I noticed, had given up, for the moment, looking for her lover. She walked back to the table, sat down in a chair, and put her head in her hands, remaining frozen there in what seemed a heartbreaking tableau. "Young love in the city," I said. The cat evidently did not care a flea about the troubled lives of the people in the building across the street. She shamelessly continued her previous activity. "Stop licking your anus!" I shouted. The cat stopped briefly, then she started up again. I put down the opera glasses for a moment, puffed patiently on the cigar, and glanced down at an empty Vandam Street and the building across the way, which now stood almost entirely in darkness except for the light in the woman's loft. Her place was apparently one floor below mine and it was backlit nicely, almost like a movie set, but I still couldn't see much without the opera glasses. When I picked them up again and gave my malarial eyes a chance to focus, I saw that the girl was standing up again, gesturing with her hands in an agitated manner, seemingly arguing with someone else who'd evidently entered the room while I'd been watching the cat lick her anus. Life turns on a dime, they say. As I watched, a dark shadow fell across the table. Then the dark figure of a man moved slowly -- relentlessly, it seemed -- across the room. The girl appeared to shrink away from him in fear. I could be wrong, I thought. Maybe she's just upset with him for being late. Very possibly the same scenario was being enacted at that moment in a great many residences all across the city. I had no idea what time it was, of course. I had no way of knowing how late the guy was. I thought maybe he'd stop and they'd stand their ground and argue some more, but that didn't happen. What happened was he kept moving toward her with an almost menacing grace, moving like nothing could stop him, like a maestro taking the stage to conduct a personal symphony of hate. For there was definitely hate and impending violence in that room and it traveled through the little opera glasses right down to my shivering bones. Sometimes malaria makes you shiver and sometimes it's only life. He hit her then, hard, in the face and her head snapped back and her hair flowed and billowed like in a TV shampoo commercial or a movie which this wasn't and the cat stopped licking her anus and I felt like someone had hit me, too, and there wasn't a fucking thing I could do about it. "Jesus Christ!" I shouted and the guy hit her again and Jesus Christ looked sadly down from some little hill or other and there wasn't a fucking thing he could do either. It was just a small aspect of the human condition called domestic violence and the society was redolent of it and the whole world reeked of it and maybe Hank Williams was right and they did have a license to fight, but the night was cold and the windows were all down and it made no sound and that made the normal shitty human thing all the more horrible and unearthly. And he hit her again and I turned and ran to call 911 and I stepped on an empty bottle and I fell and I was down and I crawled back to the window and I grabbed the little opera glasses and I looked across the blameless night and she was down, too, and he hit her again and again and again and only me and the cat and Jesus could see and it made us all feel sad and lonely, but we keep hoping and we keep trying and we crawl to the desk and grab the blower and we call 911 and we tell the lady who is there who we are and where we are and why we are lonely and why we are sad. Copyright © 2004 by Kinky Friedman Excerpted from The Prisoner of Vandam Street: A Novel by Kinky Friedman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.