Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Footsteps in the Dark

The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as the sound of heavy footsteps coming up our front walk broke the early morning stillness. Who could be outside our house this early on a Sunday morning? From the safety of my bed, I stared into the blackness beyond our bedroom window, straining to see who was there. Was I imagining things? I am will aware that my imagination can, on occasion, run away with my fears like an unruly child.

But the footsteps continued. Nearer and nearer our front door they came. Finally, I heard them ascend the front steps and stop on our front porch. I held my breath and tried to quell the wave of panic I felt rising within me. Maybe if I was really quiet the stranger would leave. "Oh, please go away!" I breathed anxiously. Blissfully unaware of all the trauma I was experiencing, my sweet husband lay snoring beside me.

Knock! Knock! Knock!

I jumped up to a sitting position. That stranger was not going away! He was knocking at our front door! All pretense of bravery now completely evaporated and I dove headlong under the covers towards my husband's side of the bed. Grabbing Shawn's arm, I whispered hoarsely, "Someone's knocking at the door!"

One eye peered out at me from under his cocoon of covers.

"Am I snoring too loud?" he mumbled sleepily and rolled over.

The knocking came again with more intensity. It was obvious that our predawn visitor wanted something, I didn't know what, and I wasn't about to find out by myself.

I shook Shawn's arm once more. "Someone's knocking at the door!"

This time Shawn, finally realizing that something might possibly be amiss, opened both his eyes and took out his earplugs. "Whaaaat?"

Nearing panic mode, I opened my mouth to repeat myself, but the knocking came again. This time both of us heard it. Now it was the whites of Shawn's eyes that showed.

He leaned over to turn on our bedroom light, but I quickly pushed his hand away. Since our bedroom window is only a few steps to the left of the front door, I did not want to inadvertently draw attention towards us. What if the stranger had a gun? Which, since we live in the freedom-loving South, was a likely scenario.

Shawn felt his way across our bedroom fumbling blindly for his robe. I tiptoed towards the wall beside the window, using the cover of darkness for protection. Despite my pounding heart, a measure of sanity prevailed as I decided to check to see if the stranger we were dealing with was a friend or foe, sane human being or crazed lunatic.

Flattening my back against the wall to avoid detection, I inched my way closer to the window, finally sidling up to its frame. Once there, I peered outside, straining to pick up any clues as to why this stranger was targeting our house. The outside world appeared completely normal as it lay sleeping, wrapped in early morning gray. My eyes scanned the lawn and sidewalk, then zeroed in on a dark vehicle parked along the curb.

Strange. It hadn't been there when we had gone to bed. I noticed writing on the door of the car. Rubbing my blurry eyes, I could just make out the letters.

P - O - L - I - C - E

An extremely apologetic officer met us at the front door and informed us that a neighbor had complained about our dog barking and disturbing the neighborhood peace. We had heard nothing, but promised to do something about our dog. The friendly officer left as quickly as he had come, leaving us to scratch our heads and wonder which of our neighbors had turned us in. Maybe there was a crazed lunatic in our neighborhood after all!