Thursday, June 7, 2007

Stinging in the Rain

Last night the wind blew. It blew so hard that it made sleep impossible. I tossed and turned and listened to the howling. I think it came from the south east because at about 3 am it brought with it rain falling in that direction. Torrent, unforgiving rain. I worried about Ralph in the backyard. I worried about my plants in the front.
I woke-up sometime around 7. I could still hear the wind blowing rain all over my front porch, so I lifted up the shutters. A man down the street with a bright orange hunting jacket caught my eye. He was running in little steps looking for cover.
I went back to sleep.
An hour later my mom called. She woke me up from a dream where I saw Chup fall into thick ice and I couldn't remember the number for 911. 711? 611? Help! Panic!
"Oh hi mom." I said in relief.
"Are you okay honey?" Mom asked.
I thought so. I was home alone. The house was filled with dark gray light. Ralph sat peering into the back door window and I couldn't hear anything but the rain. As we talked, I crawled out of bed and found my white robe. The forecast brought with it a significant drop in temperature. My house was cold. I started shuffling around opening all the blinds and checking for wilted flowers in vases on the coffee and end tables.
Just as I entered into the kitchen I noticed a shadow of a tall man outside on my front porch. Still on the phone and in my robe, I darted back into the hallway.
"Someone is here." I whispered to my mother.
Then there was urgent knocking. It sounded like my wood door was going bust open with the next pound. I peeked around the corner and saw a man, in his twenties, with a hooded sweatshirt on (hood on over his head) looking into my window and pacing back-and-forth across my front step.
"A tall hooded man." I said slowly.
"Stay on the phone." She ordered.
"I am going out the back door." I told my mom.
Before I had the back door open, I heard the pounding again. Quietly, I slipped out the back.
"Stay there." Mom ordered again.
The rain was being dumped out of the rain gutters from the back patio. My feet turned to ice after a few seconds of standing on the concrete. Ralph looked hungry so I fed him, making sure that the bowl didn't clang on the ground.
A few minutes later, and with mom still on the phone, I re-entered my house. I could hear shuffling noises. The icy sensation in my feet traveled all the way to my heart which seemingly stopped beating. I realized that my front door wasn't locked and thought perhaps I wasn't alone in the house.
The noises got louder as I headed towards my front room. I took each step slowly. When I turned into the room, I found the paper lantern from the back porch--we rescued from the beatings of the wind last night--was rolling around in the draft of a cracked window. All was safe.
I told my mom that I was fine and she hung up, though cautiously.
I looked out the window.
No one was there.
A car drove by and splashed water in it's wake.
Then my phone rang.
"Hey." Said May.
"Hey." I said back.
"Are you okay?" Perhaps she sensed my tension.
I told her my story, which she simultaneously relayed to her husband Davey.
"Davey is coming over."
When I hung up the phone I saw movement across the street at my neighbor's house.
There he was again, the hooded man, tapping at the door and looking in the windows.
I kept my eye on him, ducked out of his sight. Soon I heard Davey's truck trolling down the street.
"I see him." He called from his cell, "I am going to watch."
I decided to get dressed, and pulled on my black yoga pants and a gray t-shirt. I sat holed-up in Chup's office with my phone nearby.
"He is going door-to-door. It looks like he is trying to sell something, and whatever it is, he pulls it out of his pocket. I called the police." Davey informed me. "Do you want to sit with us in the truck and watch?"
I agreed and ran outside my front porch in the rain without a jacket or shoes. We drove past the hooded man again, a couple houses down, on a front porch out of the rain. At the end of the street we saw two police cars. Officers were patting down two men. One was the man with the bright orange hunting jacket I had seen earlier crossing the street.
"They got the wrong guy!" Said Davey (who had come equipped with a baseball bat.)
We circled the block and passed another officer headed in our direction.
"They got the wrong guy!" Lamented Davey again.
Then, as we rounded the block we saw the hooded man crossing the street towards the police car. We thought we saw him get in the backseat. Davey dropped me off at home knowing that our street was empty. A few seconds later I got a call from him.
"I am following the police car." He said "All three men are in the back seat handcuffed.
Later at Enrichment night the ladies sat around a long table talking. Someone mention that the high was forty-seven degrees today.
"For June? That is odd." It was replied.
"A guy with a hooded sweatshirt came by my door this morning selling magazine subscriptions wadded up in his pocket." Melissa said.
My ears perked up remembering this morning's dramatic sting.
"He said he was trying to earn money for a trip to Amsterdam." She added.

Amsterdam. Huh.

For another, less, ahem, dramatic version of this story click