Yesterday morning, as I was sitting in the flat on Paris that I have rented for a time quietly finishing my latest book, Murderers I Have Known (and I have known quite a few), a furious row broke out in the street six floors below. I went out onto the terrace—the flat is on the building’s top floor—to see what was going on. There were several other equally curious people standing on their balconies on both sides of the street.
A little knot of young black men, with two or three girls among them, was having a furious row. It was obvious that they were in earnest, though goodness knows about what, as I could not make out any words. I was like a dog; I went by the tone of their voices.
One of the young men struck another and he fell, his face covered in blood. The man who had struck him kicked him with full force and got down on him to punch him as hard as he could. He got in several very hard blows before some others hauled him off. If he had not been hauled off, I think he would have beaten him to death. I was very glad that neither of the two, the beater and the beaten, had a gun, for I am sure that in their heightened state of emotion, whatever it was about, one of them would have used a gun to kill. Of course, there will be those who say that if each of them had thought the other had a gun, they would not have fought in the first place.
It was strange to see cars crawl by this scene, the drivers obviously seeing what was going on but doing nothing about it. Some passersby passed by and others tried to intervene. More than one called the police.