Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Intruder

(Published many years ago, but I suddenly thought about it this evening and couldn't stop laughing. So here it is again!)

This is a story which is destined to be told and retold in our family: 
the story of how my sister Rebecca and I held off an intruder in our house.

One weekday when my sister and I were in high school, we had a day off from school. We attended a private school in the next town over but our siblings still attended the city schools so they were in school that day. I took the rare opportunity to sleep in, undisturbed. Around 9 or so, I awoke to Rebecca frantically shaking me and gasping out something about a burglar. It was a moment before I was fully awake and could grasp what she was saying. I told her to shut up so I could listen. To my surprise and horror, I heard someone large moving around downstairs and whistling.

I jumped up and grabbed Rebecca, dragging her out of my room and into the hall. I intended to dash across the top of the stairs into our parents’ room where there was a phone so we could call 911. Just before we got there, I heard the person coming toward the bottom of the stairs. Had we gone another step he certainly would have seen us. Whirling around, I dragged her into our bathroom at the other end of the hall. Fortunately, the intruder was not making any effort to be quiet so he didn’t hear our scurrying. When we got into the bathroom, I was horrified to find that the door wouldn’t lock. This was not a young house and the doors could be temperamental.

While I was frantically but quietly working on it, I heard the person coming upstairs. I stopped working and held the door shut and listened. The person was clearly a large male and was seemingly wandering systematically from room to room…whistling. The whistling seemed particularly inappropriate under the circumstances. I turned around to see what Rebecca was doing and she had disappeared. Surprised, I realized she was in the tub, holding a washcloth up to the faucet. “What are you doing??” I hissed. “Catching the drip so he doesn’t hear it!” she hissed back. I thought that the drip was the least of our problems but didn’t argue because I heard the intruder head into my room. My fear was replaced momentarily by sheer indignation. This rapidly changed back to fear as the footsteps came right up to the bathroom door. Desperately, I braced against the door and held the knob firmly so it wouldn’t turn. The doorknob strained in my hand and there was a slight push on the door. After a pause, the steps moved on, heading into the boys’ room. I let out a careful sigh of relief and leaned on the door.

I was beginning to wonder what kind of weird intruder this was. With another sick jolt, I realized it could be one of the patients from the state mental hospital 20 miles away. They had been known to escape occasionally. The person went back downstairs and after a few moments the house seemed quieter. Just as I was easing open the door to peer out, I heard an engine start in the driveway. I yelled to Rebecca to look out the window and get an identification on the vehicle while I ran to the phone and called 911. My hand shook on the phone as I described what happened. The person asked if anything had been taken and I realized I hadn’t even looked. They said the police were on their way. I went back downstairs and began to wonder where Rebecca was. Nothing seemed to have been disturbed.

Just before a police car pulled in the driveway, Rebecca burst through the front door. I asked her if she had seen the vehicle and what took so long. She described a white pickup with some writing on the side. Apparently she had run across the street to the neighbors and frantically pounded on the door. Mercifully, as it would turn out, they weren’t home. The police officer started questioning us and another cruiser pulled up in front of the house while two others searched the neighborhood. I was suddenly aware that Rebecca was still in pajamas and I was in a t-shirt, shorts and little else. Neither of us had combed hair.

Rebecca said she had been eating breakfast down in the kitchen and heard someone walk into the garage, singing. She peeped through the curtain on the door and saw a big man coming carrying something. She panicked and ran up to get me.

Rebecca had been crying off and on and when, a few minutes later, Mom pulled up to the house, she let loose completely and ran to Mom sobbing. Mom was quite startled to see all the police and commotion and held tightly onto Rebecca while we told her what happened. The officer got a call on his radio and went over to his car. He came back, carefully keeping his composure and said to Mom: “Ma’am, do you use Hatcher Pest Control?” Her whole expression changed and she said, “Yes!” I said, “What?!” To say I suddenly felt very foolish is putting it mildly. Mom apologized for forgetting to tell us the man was coming this morning. She had been out doing errands.

Things did not improve when a white pickup with “Hatcher Pest Control” stenciled on the side pulled up behind a cruiser in the front of the house and big, jolly Mr. Blackman hopped out grinning from ear to ear. Well, let us draw a curtain on the scene. We knew we were goners because Mr. Blackman’s niece and nephew went to school with us. Sure enough, the next day, that’s all we heard about. I told Rebecca it would be a long time before I let her scare me without checking it out first for myself.


  1. I remembered how everyone at school found out. Bill's aunt or cousin or kin somehow was the woman that answered your 911 call. So much for confidentiality...
    And the exterminator was Mr. Blackmon who worked for Hatcher's.
    fun times....

  2. Oooh, thanks for linking that one in one of your last posts. That's hilarious! :)


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