Friday, August 6, 2010

Running Scared

Our house (a large ranch-style home) was the only one built on the street when we moved in; the rest were only foundations. The house wasn't that far back from the street, but it was raised up a bit so we looked down on the street, which was very short (only five lots each side) and ended at a two lots to our left, where a small mountain range started. A long walkway extended the length of the front of our house (to a driveway on the side), and a chest-high privacy wall separated that walkway from the front yard and street below for half the house. I always hated that wall because we couldn't see a thing down on the sidewalk or street, so if someone was at the door we had no idea how they got there -- not to mention it was very dark on the inside of the wall where the front door was. Even worse, if someone was at the door a witness on the street would never be able to tell.

The only view of the street we had were our floor-to-ceiling dining room windows in the center of the house. There was only one street lamp on our short street, which happened to be at the extreme right of our property when we looked outside, which gave that side an eerie glow, and made the left side overly dark in comparison. It was a very dark street in general, but it was ridiculous when we moved in because we were the only ones there and there was absolutely NO ambient light from other houses. Also, helicopters always searched the mountains looking for... who knows. We had no window coverings in the beginning (Mom wanted to take her time and decorate properly) and it always creeped me out; I hated the fact that someone could be watching everything we were doing inside.

On most nights after dinner I would run laps in the house for half an hour because we had a big center wall with rooms built around it and there was great space for that. (I sure as he

wasn't going to be running around outside in the dark by myself.) One night my parents were out somewhere and I was doing my laps. I could see the street below with each pass through the dining room, and about five minutes in I noticed a large car going up the street slowly toward the mountain (I saw the headlights). I didn't think anything of it until a few laps later I saw it go by slowly again. There was no reason to be on that street unless you were visiting us because there were no other houses and pretty much nowhere to go (you couldn't drive up into the mountain range from there). A few laps later I saw it again, but this time coming from the mountain instead of toward it, and this time with its lights off. That pretty much did me in -- instant panic, I can still feel the fear today! I finished the lap, shut out some lights on my pass, and stopped short of the windows.

I pressed myself against the front wall just to the right of them and peered through them at the edge, and that's when I saw the car slow to a crawl and park right in front of our house. I was shaking like a leaf. Our dogs weren't making any noise. I had no idea what I should do (if anything). It was completely dark now in the room i was in, but there was one light on in another room, so I knew if I ran for the phone on the kitchen wall I'd be back-lit and they'd know where I was in the house. So I stayed put and kept inching my eye by the window to watch what was going on even though I couldn't see inside the car. I then saw a non-descript guy with longish hair get out of the driver's side, walk around the front of the car to the sidewalk, and lean against the front passenger side of the car with his arms folded. He then just stared at the house. I was about to cry at that point because I SWORE he saw me running around in there while he was driving by and I figured I was in trouble. I moved a little to the side (away from the edge of the window) and slid down to the floor with my face in my hands, completely freaked out. A couple minutes later I heard BANG BANG BANG on the door, at which time my heart pretty much froze and I held my breath. The front door was all of twenty feet from me, and he was inside that privacy wall I mentioned.

Yeah, well, it's true what they say: dogs are pretty incredible security systems. Our dogs (we had four) went NUTS, and the next thing I know I heard running footsteps and then heard the car start and leave. I immediately went and grabbed the phone, then turned off all the lights so I could sit on the floor near that dining room window without being seen, and I sat there like a hawk watching the street until my parents got home an hour later. I never once thought to call the police and I don't know why... maybe I felt a little foolish, I'm not sure really. I didn't call anybody, but I had the phone there if I thought I needed to. (This was 1980 -- we didn't have cell phones so I couldn't exactly reach my parents.) When my parents got home, my dad mumbled something about having a shotgun under the bed if there was "any more weird stuff" and said he didn't want me running around in there anymore even when they were home. My mom was pretty freaked-out... pretty sure she hustled to pick out our drapes after that.

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