I had to call 911 last Saturday evening a little after 10P.M. BabyD had been asleep for a while and I was just crawling into bed with a book when I heard something.Our home is older. It sags and sighs and it’s spiritually endowed, but I have lived here long enough now to put cause to creak and groan. Friday night, for example, the winds picked up around midnight and shook the rafters. Our bedrooms are in the attic really. They remind me of the dormer room I shared my freshmen year at university. There is little but the shingles to shield us and a strong gust can even wake me from a sound sleep.

But that was not the case Saturday night. There was no wind to speak of and the temps were rising, so the house was not cracking under the cold.

What I heard was the distinct rattle of a doorknob.

I hadn’t heard any foot fall in the back or on the deck, but I wouldn’t. The warm temperature melted the crispy crunching sound out of the snow for a time and the deck is new and built by my husband the handy manly working machine. The deck doesn’t creak.

The rattle was forceful enough that I froze when I heard it. I was halfway into bed. And since I know that house sounds are more likely to sound menacing after dark and when I am alone, I didn’t react but to still myself and listen.

Several long minutes went by without a repeat. I convinced myself it was just the house being the house but decided a quick once over of the downstairs and check of the doors would be a good idea just in case. I grabbed the phone – again, just in case – and noted the the hard plastic covering the antenna would make a good weapon – and proceeded to the hall and the first set of stairs to the landing in between the floors.

I know what you are thinking. Weapon? She was thinking about the need for a weapon? During my Tae Kwon Do days, the sensei constantly reminded us that the time to plan and decide just how willing you are to inflict harm in your own defense or the defense of others is before you need to. Consequently, I am always assessing situations that have the potential to be more than my imagination and I nearly always decide that I am not averse to inflicting as much harm as I am capable.  I am capable of more than it would appear at a glance.

I hadn’t hit the third step when I heard it again, and I had dialed 911 before I hit the mid-landing. By the time I was in the hallway below, I was speaking with a dispatcher.

As I talked, I walked. Through all the main floor rooms I went, flipping on lights as I passed through. Checking doors. Peering out windows.

The constable arrived within ten minutes and did a sweep of the property including the alley. He assured me I was not being silly because I felt so by then and that I had to only call dispatch and he would be right back to check on the house again as he was on patrol in our area all night.

It took about an hour to reach Rob. He and the older girls attended a funeral supper for Grandpa D. at the home of a younger brother who lived on an acreage outside the city. Cell service is iffy.

He was calmer than I was by the time I reached him, but he’d just had a tense moment with one of his sisters-in-law. The question of he and I remarrying has come up again with Shelley’s sisters. One of them admitted to him about a month ago, she is struggling less with the idea and the other still just doesn’t get it.

“Why? I don’t understand.”

“Well, you wouldn’t,” he told her and it’s true. She hasn’t the experience or frankly, the ability to see beyond herself.

She has been nothing but kind to me and to BabyD, but there are family issues that run deeper than Rob and I for her. The way seemingly unrelated events crack open larger closets is just part of blending, I have discovered.

So, Rob’s late evening was not going well prior to the relation that his wife was now wide awake and in tears on the sofa and likely to remain there for some hours to come.

“I wish I had been there,” he told me. “I could have checked things out. Maybe shot someone for you.”

He and the girls were leaving for their accommodations in the city and he called me back around midnight. I was still awake.

I ended up sitting and watching television until 3A.M. Victor/Victoria which I haven’t seen in ages.  Caught the Red, Hot Jazz number that is my favorite and was reminded again of how much I adore Robert Preston. And an episode from the last season of Friends that was trés awful. That show was so played once Chandler and Monica were married. How did it last another two (right?) seasons?

Lights a-blazing, I fell asleep on Rob’s side of the bed until his phone call woke me at 6A.M. He needed to check in. Then we both went back to our separate beds.

BabyD woke me for cartoons at 8 and then again at 10:30 for lunch. She can fix her own breakfast but not lunch.

I was dead-ass tired but managed to be up and semi-tracking for the rest of the day.

Now I must face the fact that I am not totally comfortable with being on my own at night in a rural area. Despite neighbors, the truth is that we can easily be quite a bit of time away from the nearest responder, depending on the whimsy of fate.

This puts a new spin on the idea of Rob taking a job where travel is involved or us eventually living on an acreage of our own. Of course there are precautions one can take. We haven’t finished all the outdoor reno, so we don’t have motion detector floodlights – or lights at all. Only a few of the windows are done on the inside or covered with blinds or drapes, making it easy to see who is home and where they are located.

We could get a dog, but neither of us are keen on pet care. As it stands, MidKid’s poor cat has to come yowling for either of us to remember to feed him.

There is the gun thing. But I am not in favor. People should not own guns if they are not in continual practice with them. Handling and using a firearm is a skill that requires practice and maintenance. Keeping it in a lock box for protection is no protection at all and with a small child around is begging for trouble to come visit you.

I had a neighborhood friend whose much older brother kept a handgun hidden in a shoebox in the back of his closet. She showed it to me one afternoon when he was out and her aunt, who took care of her and her baby sister, was preoccupied with soap operas as she folded laundry in the kitchen.

We were five years old. And the only thing that motivated me to tell her not to pick the gun up was my memory of spying my dad’s old hunting shotguns under our basement steps. He had laid it on thick about the dangers of firearms and I had listened closely because I was that kind of kid. BabyD is not.

All experiences that don’t kill us or someone else are good ones, right?

There is pondering to be done.

In the meantime, don’t forget to sign up for the Midori by Midnight book giveaway. You guys need to show more enthusiasm or people will stop giving me things to give to you.

8 thoughts on “911

  1. i’ve been on my own (even pre-divorce for 4 years) for quite awhile. i share your position on guns – nothing wrong with them, but you have to invest the time to be extremely comfortable using one, or it doesn’t work. keep a wooden bat and a 24″ blade next to my bed, and that’s one of the reasons i put up with the brown dog…

    the lights would probably be a basic deterrent. police response seemed fairly quick, which is a good thing in a rural community. maybe a security system on top of all that, and you’d feel a little better…

    but yikes…

  2. I second (third?) the suggestions of motion-sensitive lights and a security system. You did the right thing by calling 911, as I’m sure they reassured you (don’t hesitate to call).

    Here’s my story of a call to the Police Dept. Good for a laugh, anyway!

  3. Glad to hear that all is well. I like the idea of motion-detecting lights if they stay off unless there is a motion that turns them on; otherwise the lights just draw attention to a house that otherwise might not be noticed. I’ve had many nights home alone, and it is much easier in a community with neighbors than it is in the woods.You’ve got me thinking that I need to buy a baseball bat, my weapon of choice. I don’t think my cat would be much help in the case of an intruder.

  4. I am about as anti-gun as a person can be, but this line made me laugh out loud.

    “I wish I had been there,” he told me. “I could have checked things out. Maybe shot someone for you.”

    I think I love your husband for that line, because I understand the preternatural source of his response.

  5. I confess that when my husband is out of town I get spooked and don’t sleep well. But to have an actual person rattling your door late at night, that is so scary.

  6. It is scary to be alone and have someone rattling the knob. You need to get those motion detector lights up pronto. That will deter most critters that come crawling, two-legged and four-legged. Maybe a security system for your peace of mind?

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