Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Harm's way

Huge gusts of wind are banking off of my house. The rain is sheeting sideways, and the trees are moving so frantically, that their branches seem like angry serpents whipping back and forth. Two soaked finches and a disoriented hummingbird are seeking refuge under the eve of my roof. Every so often a blast of cold wind lifts a spray out of the rain gutters straight up to the sky. My friend Ellen from Tennessee says this isn’t a real storm, but it’s pretty wild for here.
I am all alone in the house. Just me and the howling wind pushing its way into this drafty old place. I have never felt safe here alone. Until today.

Yesterday I put myself in harm’s way. I was so unbelievably stupid, na├»ve, careless. Today I count the blessings of what didn’t happen yesterday.

In my attempts to be honest in all of my doings, I have been looking for some discounted used software to buy for my computer rather than accept offers of free bootlegged software. Having had my own artwork reproduced without my permission, I am protective of the copyrights of others. So I found a posting on Craigslist for a guy selling his old software because he had bought a Mac. The price was good, so I arranged to purchase a disk from him.

Yesterday Guy and I drove over to the address I had been given. Waiting on the porch of a rundown house with a dead lawn was an older, pot bellied man. As I approached, he barely acknowledged me. “Tim?” I asked. “I’m here for the software.” “Hang on a second,” He mumbled. He tossed his cigarette and opened the door. “Com’mon in.” he said, and I followed behind him into the door, my husband only about 30 feet away in the van.

The door closed behind me. The room was dark and there were only a few items of furniture pushed together in the middle of an otherwise bare room. It appeared as though no one actually lived here. Suddenly a second man, over six feet tall, rough and disheveled looking, stepped out of a doorway in front of me, and my heart seized in my chest. I took instant inventory of my situation as my pulse raged. I was standing between two large, strange men, in a dark and nearly empty house. The door was blocked by one of the men. My husband and child were in a van with the engine on, out of ear shot. The men were big. I felt small. My head began to pound and thoughts race as I took a step back.

Why had I walked into that door? How had I allowed the thought to enter my head that it would be OK, on any level, to go into a house alone with a strange man?

“Come back here.” said the second man, as he headed for the doorway he had just entered from.

“No, I think I would be more comfortable waiting outside with my husband.” I said, trying to sound confident and firm.

“OK, suit yourself.” He said, and the first man opened the door. I rushed out and greedily took in the glorious sight of Guy in the van, and in split seconds a million images rushed through my head of what would be happening right at that moment had I not been allowed to leave. I felt like my guts were vibrating inside my body. I was shaking.

The tall man brought out bootlegged disks, which I took- just to get off that porch and back to my husband, van, child, life; safety. Once in the van, I told it all to Guy, and told him I didn’t want the disks. With Guy at my side we went back and approached the tall man, who was still on the porch. He gave me my money back, shrugged, and we left. On our way back to the van, I chatted a moment with a neighbor next door to ask if the man I had dealt with even lived in the house. He thought the place was being foreclosed on, and that they ran shady business deals often.

Once back in the van, I looked over my shoulder to see the tall man, standing on the porch, watching us drive away. In a few moments, my cell phone rang and I answered.

“WHAT WERE YOU TALKING TO MY NEIGHBOR ABOUT!?” The angry voice demanded. I hung up. We turned off the phone. He called back twice with nasty messages.

As we drove further and further from the house, intense feelings of dread overtook me.

What if…

I could have been…

Why did I…

I am furious and baffled at myself for having entered that house. I am mystified that it never crossed my mind that I could be in danger. I am shockingly aware that had they meant to do harm, harm would have been done. I wouldn’t have had a chance.

I sit in my safe, warm house now. The wind is a bit theatrical. The howling is slightly eerie. But I am not afraid. Just grateful.

1 comment:

Jackie said...

Wow Laine! I am so very grateful that you are safe! What an experience. I always think that an experience that scares us to death perhapse prepares us to avoid something else even worse. I always feel a little less embarrassed when I think of this. I am so grateful when I feel like I was obviously protected too. Love you, sweet, girl, safe in your house!