Saturday, December 24, 2011

Weirdest thing happened

Yesterday I was awoken in the morning by the sound of the doorbell, which chimes in the hallway right outside my childhood bedroom. It dinged once, then again after a pause, then three or four more times, and so on, until it became evident that whoever was there was not going away. In my sleepy haze, I started to wonder if my parents had somehow gotten locked outside, so I got up to see what was the matter. Instead, they'd been occupied or undressed or some such, but my dad finally made it to the door, and it was some neighborhood kid, offering to clean up our front courtyard (it had snowed, maybe half an inch and was already melting; we turned him down).

Then last night around 2 am, I woke up to the same sound: the doorbell ringing in sporadic bursts. At first I thought it must be the same kid, returning to further terrorize us. Every time I thought surely he was going away, it would ring again. I was lying there awake thinking someone would have to answer it and get his parents' names so we could call and tell them to keep a tighter rein on their kid, when I heard my parents and John conferring in the front hall about what to do or not to do. John had still been up, night-owling on the other side of the house with a book, so a light had been on. There was no one visible through the peephole, but John peered out the big window in our dining room, which faces  the courtyard, and said, "There's a woman out there!" She was hiding in the shadows near the door.

At this point I was fairly terrified. Remember that old story about the guy who's being followed by someone who keeps flashing their brights? And finally it's revealed that someone was hiding in the backseat with a weapon? I'm thinking one of two things is true: this woman is a psycho killer, or she's hiding from a psycho killer, and if we open the door he's going to get us too. I'm not at my most rational in the middle of the night, wearing pajamas and no contacts. But no one else wants to open the door either. She sees that John sees her, but she won't step out in the light or shout that she wants to be let in. It's freezing out there by the way, and she's just wearing a sweater. So finally we call the police, and tell them there's a woman outside our door and we're not sure if she needs help or we do. After about five minutes, she's still periodically ringing the doorbell frantically, so we call back in an effort to up the urgency. Within two minutes of that, two cop cars pulled up.

We spent the next hour sort of watching the scene unfold. One of the cops came to our door and said that she was hiding from her husband, and that she wanted us to call the cops. So, I guess, we did the right thing? We think her husband may have been driving down the street in his truck with the lights off, looking for her, but we didn't see the truck until the lights on the police cars lit up the street. It looked like the cops tried to facilitate a reconciliation, but ended up arresting the guy. The cops eventually escorted her back home. It didn't take very long; they live right down the street, but we're not sure which house.

I never got a good look at her; John thought she looked young, 25 or 30. The whole time the cops were here, she was just standing under a tree across the street, waiting, in the cold. My dad says "Nothing good ever happens at 2 am." Isn't it scary to think that you might need help at 2 am, and the nearest potential savior might be too scared to help you?


  1. "Isn't it scary to think that you might need help at 2 am, and the nearest potential savior might be too scared to help you?"

    I completely agree--this is a major downside to a culture of fear. I don't mean to dismiss fear as a feeling!

    I nhope all's well with you!

  2. "I'm not at my most rational in the middle of the night, wearing pajamas and no contacts."

    You and me both, sister.

  3. yes, scary all-around. and you're right--if i'm ever the one needing help, banging on someone's door looking crazed, i will hope they let me in. but would i open the door? i used to wonder about this when i lived in high-traffic after-bar areas (especially once, when I lived on a first floor apartment right on the street in such an area): would i be able to distinguish a legitimate cry for help from a drunken scream?