My neighbor had hired someone to do a day job on her trees.
My husband is a ham radio operator, and though it hasn’t happened in a long time, he’s been known to leave a radio on that will suddenly cackle out a man’s voice randomly in the middle of the day and throw me for a minute.
Which is what I thought it must be. Had to be.Â (Which began growing to, it did have to, didn’t it?..!) I was doing laundry at the back of the house and I ignored it.
Till I couldn’t.
There it was again. And louder. And too clear of radio static–what on earth?! I started walking down the hallway, wondering if somehow Richard had come home in the middle of the afternoon without calling first–this doesn’t happen–and wondering if I should grab a phone on my way past the oneÂ near the door in his office. Seemed way too paranoid. Didn’t.
Which was really, really, really stupid.
That one was clear as a bell.Â As I came around the corner to my kitchen, there he was. Standing in the middle of my locked house in the middle of the day with me inside with him. I had never seen the man before in my life.
“How did you get IN here?!” was the only thing that could come out of my stunned mouth. I looked at the door: it was indeed still locked. And the door was wide open.
“Your car alarm is going off.” And so it was. Then he told me he knocked and it just, kinda, you know, came open when he knocked harder.
“Let me go get my keys,” as he turned and walked away down the sidewalk.Â While I was hoping I actually still had some, panicking when I didn’t immediately find them. I had taken them out of my purse–my purse! My purse in the other room was somehow still there, I guess he didn’t see it!–for some reason a few minutes before all this started, but do you think I remembered that now? (And yes, I was abruptly as scattered as that paragraph sounds.)
My first reaction after he left was to turn to my husband: I called him at work to ask him to be more careful about shutting the door tightly on his way out in the morning; I knew *I* hadn’t gone through that door all day. I was surprised at how shaky my voice sounded. But then, I had no idea how many strange men might still be there inside my house and how much of it this guy might have just cased.
“Alison. CALL THE COPS.”
Oh. Right. Cops. Duh. But the car alarm really was going off… (And so nicely turned itself back off before I could even get outside with those keys. This was quite a relief.)
I was on the phone with the dispatcher, watching out the window, when, a few minutes into the call, I confirmed to her, “That’s him” as the man walked down the street towards a patrol car with two officers, everything casual. Next thing I knew he seemed to be resisting and suddenly one cop had crouched straight into a ‘Freeze or I’ll shoot!’ mode and the other was putting handcuffs on the guy’s hands behind his back.
All they knew about him was that he had walked into a locked house in the middle of the day with someone home. Not exactly the social norm. They had to respond to his body language (and I have no idea what words might have been said). They had to be careful and they had to establish who was in charge.
But watching from inside, I thought I was about to see someone die because my car alarm had gone off, whatever the man’s intentions, and I turned away, unable to bear it.Â At some point I looked again, and the handcuffs were off; they had talked the guy down to where things needed to be. They moved out of my line of sight towards that car.
The dispatcher had hung up and a third cop came to my door. After what seemed like forever, one of the others did too, and repeated what the first had asked me: did I want to press trespassing charges?
I asked, Was he someone on the lam with other charges pending, or was he really that much of an idiot?
The cop who’d been talking to the guy responded that he thought the guy was definitely a few screws loose, but he thought the guy did simply mean well. He did enter a stranger’s house and that is seriously not cool; the cop told the guy, You could have been blown away by someone defending their home!
I pointed out, And he did lie to you when he told you my door was unlocked.
I showed them that door. See: it is still locked. I haven’t touched it.
We decided to let him go as a well-meaning idiot. He went back to work on those trees. You know they’ve got his truck’s license carefully taken down (and that it must have come up clear.)
Richard came home early. I was so glad.
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