Essay: Screams From Somewhere Else

The scream is one of the indigenous sounds of city life, like an automobile alarm that whoops and heaves, then stops, leaving the question hanging like a hawk as to whether a car was broken into, or did its owner set off the alarm by accident, and then lay it to rest. With human screams, the question is more complicated, since screams are not mechanical or automatic. Did you hear that, Harry? What could it be? A scream of delight, of fright? Hilarity, Harry? Do you think that someone is laughing too hard? Could it be hysteria, madness? Or ; is...