Saturday, July 28, 2012

Again...

I'm not sure what the appeal is...for trying to break into someone's house.  Namely, my house.  Again.  It's not a fancy house, not too much in the way of valuables inside, and the yard is a bit unkempt, but yet again, just around midnight last night, I had someone prowling around the front porch and windows.

And of course, I was home alone with my kiddo.  Again.

What potential criminals need to know is that it just isn't smart to scare a woman who will do anything to protect her sleeping child.   

When the doorbell rang, I figured it was just some dumb neighborhood kids playing ding dong ditch.  I was laying in bed watching television and all the lights were out, I was starting to doze off, so I ignored it.  Ding dong ditch is a timeless tradition, it seems, especially in this neighborhood. 

It took less than a second for me to realize that something was really wrong. 

All the upstairs windows were open.  When kids play ding dong ditch, they can't help but giggle a little as they run away.  It was dead silent.  I turned off the TV, my heart starting to race.  Because it's been hot, I was sleeping in a tank top, but smart girl that I am, I keep clothes next to my bed.  I slipped into my pants and pulled a t-shirt over my head, listening to the eerie silence. 

That was when I heard it.  The storm door opening.  I won't tell you the number of cuss words that ran through my head.  I always lock the storm door.  It's not much of a lock, but it's an extra layer of protection and could buy me precious seconds in an emergency.  Alas, I was not the last one to close the storm door, so it wasn't locked.  I prayed that the hubby had locked the actual front door.  I held my breath, straining to hear more. 

A faint rattle as the doorknob jiggled.  Scared me, but at least the jiggling confirmed the door was actually locked.  The front windows, however, were wide open, and it's not that hard to pop a screen out.  The only thing nearby was a baseball bat, which I picked up, hefting it and taking two practice swings before dropping to the floor, still listening.

It's amazing how heightened one's senses become in an emergency.  I listened, listened, listened.  Carefully tucked my cell phone in the waistband of my pants, grabbed the landline cordless and stood up, pausing in the doorway of my bedroom.  Then I heard it.  Scraping along the dining room window screen.  I slipped into my daughter's room, carefully and quietly shutting the door behind me, dialing 911 at the same time, whispering urgently to the dispatcher what my emergency was and where it was happening.  ETA for the police was less than 2 minutes.  I carefully peered out the kiddo's window, but it's a partially obstructed view.  I saw someone out there, but not enough to really be helpful.  At that moment, a car drove up the street--not the police car--and whoever it was took off. 

The police arrived only a few seconds later, no lights or sirens, just speeding stealthily down the street.  Once I saw the car, I breathed the biggest sigh of relief and went downstairs to meet the officer.  There wasn't much he could do at that point, though several squad cars had been dispatched to the neighborhood.  I met the officer at the front door, explaining what had occurred.  I couldn't figure out why he was standing so far away from me, looking me up and down repeatedly.  It was then that I realized I still had the bat in my right hand and kept adjusting my grip on it.  I was a little embarrassed, but not enough to put the bat down.  He took my report and assured me they'd be patrolling overnight.  As he was checking the front of the house, he asked if any other windows were open.  Only the upstairs windows, so I wasn't worried about about someone getting in somewhere else downstairs. 

He was shining his flashlight along the front of the house when I saw it.  A garden pickaxe.  On the ground, right outside the window where I'd heard the noise.  Rage bubbled through me.  It was one of my gardening tools.  That the hubby had left outside on the porch.  As I stood outside looking in, I realized that in the dim light, the checkbook, some cash and a stack of bills were sitting out in plain sight on the dining room table...and I wasn't the one who left them there.  (Ahem...husband.)  What made my house an easy target?  An item that would make breaking in easy with easily accessible items within sight.  I could only shake my head at the stupidity of it.

With a wry grin, I looked at the baseball bat and made a comment to the effect of how the potential burglar probably didn't need to be the one worrying about getting a head full of splinters that night.

I went back into the house, checking and securing the door after the officer left, put on a few lights and just tried to breathe normally again.  My kiddo was still blessedly asleep.  As I glanced out the window, I saw two police cars speeding by, but I had the weirdest, most unsettled feeling.  I had the bat in my hands again at this point and I closed my eyes, listening carefully.  I was confident that nobody had gotten in through the front door or dining room window or other windows.  But I was still uneasy.  Something was out of place.

I played the last 5-6 minutes over in my head, closing my eyes and letting my instincts guide me.  Mentally tracking everything that had happened and everything that I'd seen.  My eyes flew open. 

The laundry room.  The door in the laundry room leads out to the garage.  It hadn't clicked at first because I hadn't gone in the laundry room, but when I turned, sure enough the door was partway open.  I backed up two steps, debating whether to run up the stairs to the kiddo's room.  But I also knew that I didn't want to leave my back exposed, so I swallowed and flicked the hall light on, fully illuminating the front entryway and part of the laundry room and with an air of confidence that I didn't really have, lunged into the small space.

Turns out, when the hubby had gone out that night, he had turned the doorknob lock, but hadn't fully shut the door and didn't bother to lock the deadbolt.  Nobody had gotten in.

I went upstairs, calmer, but so angry.  I should have been feeling better.  I was safe.  My kiddo was safe.  But the anger centered around the fact that it is so easy to make a poor decision that puts someone else at risk.  I laid awake for several hours, too much adrenalin coursing through me to allow for sleep.  I finally dozed off in the wee hours of the morning, but when the hubby got home, I realized I'd still been gripping the bat.  What a night.

And now?  Now I need to do some cleaning and organizing.  And breathing.  And maybe, just maybe, I can get some sleep later tonight.  Yeesh.

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