Maureen hurried through the door, trying very hard to look casual, hoping that any random person watching wouldn't be able to tell that she was basically fleeing for her life. She was being chased by an unrelenting torrent of words, delivered by a fuming Joanne, and was helpless to escape the attack.
"Maureen, why, WHY couldn't you have tried to mind your own business for once? For crying out loud, I realize you have this insane need to always be the center of attention, but WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!"
Heroically resisting the temptation to stick her fingers in her ears, Maureen took a deep breath before forcing herself to answer, calmly and rationally, for the seventeenth time in the last half hour.
"I TOLD you, Pookie, I was just trying to be friendly! I swear on, well, on anything you want me to swear on, I didn't MEAN to scare her! I- she was crying- well, what was I supposed to do? I wanted to help her."
"Oh, and you think what you did was helpful?"
At this point Maureen simply couldn't hold back.
"For the last time, I was TRYING to help her. I was NOT trying to kill him. Look, I saw a bad situation, it seemed like the only decent thing to do was stop and try to help out. I didn't think about it, I just DID it! Is it my fault he decided to freak out and COMMIT SUICIDE!"
Joanne opened her mouth, but before she could make a sound, a loud pounding on the door distracted her.
With a fierce glare at her, Maureen turned on her heel to walk to the door, throwing it open. Mark stood there, his eyes wide.
"Umm…..you know, pretty much everyone in the building can hear you two."
Naturally, Maureen immediately began to blame Joanne. Just as naturally, Mark completely ignored her, walking right past her to stand in front of Joanne.
"What's going on? Did one of you say something about suicide? What happened?"
Without a word, Joanne grabbed his arm and pulled him over to the window of the apartment. Yanking back the curtains with one hand, she pointed with the other to the street below, and the small crowd gathered there.
Glancing quickly back at Maureen, Mark moved closer to the window and stood looking out for a long moment.
Maureen covered her eyes with one hand, positive that she would now be attacked on two fronts. It wasn't enough, was it, that she was consumed with remorse and shame over her hasty actions? No, she was going to be forced to relive the horrible events of this day over and over again for the rest of her life. This would follow her and haunt her forever; she would not be able to go anywhere without people recognizing her, pointing and staring and whispering about what a monster she was. Her life was completely ruined, and all because she was trying to help that poor—"
Her self-pity-party was rudely interrupted by an enormous snort of laughter. She raised her head to see Mark fall to the floor in a paroxysm of hilarity. Open-mouthed, she could only stand there until, finally, Mark regained his ability to speak.
"Maureen…….you—you drove that girl's—you drove her—you—" And he was off again.
"Well, I don't think it's very funny, and I'm sure that little girl doesn't either!"
"JOANNE! I was ONLY trying to help! If I'd known he was going to jump, I sure as hell wouldn't have gone near either of them! What kind of freakishly psychotic kitten just JUMPS off of a branch that's, like, 30 feet off the ground when I'm about 2 inches away from saving him?" Maureen was now screaming in frustration.
Back to Mark, who was still on the floor, and still gasping for breath.
"You—you literally scared him to death! Oh God, I wish I'd been there with my camera—Buzzline could have gotten an exclusive!"