Thursday, March 16, 2017

If Only...

By Cheryl Oreglia

"The willingness to consider possibility requires a tolerance of uncertainty." Rachel Naomi Remen
If only...he hadn't noticed the young man coming out of the neighbor's house, carrying a non-describe box, and casually toss it in the trunk of a car. Nothing gets by my husband Larry. No sir. It's Fat Tuesday (which has nothing to do with this story), as Larry rounds the corner to our block, he immediately notices an unfamiliar car, parked in an odd place, male occupant sitting suspiciously behind the wheel, with the engine running. He pulls to a stop right next to the car, gives the driver his best 'this is my neighborhood' look, but he is not intimidated. Not in the least.

This is when two more young men emerge from the neighbor's house carrying various items. Larry promptly pulls out his iPhone to capture a few indiscreet images, the said car moves slowly away, as the young men jump inside one by one. The last guy out of the house has to run along the street to catch up to the departing car, he leaps through an open door, and they take off like a bullet train, Larry in hot pursuit. 

If only....Larry wasn't adamantine by nature this would be the end of the story. He has the 911 dispatcher on the phone, she repeats in a loud authoritative voice, "do not pursue the said vehicle," "I repeat, do not pursue the vehicle." This litany of advice is running through the blue tooth device connected to Larry's car as he blatantly pursues the alleged criminals out of the neighborhood, left on Midway, hurling down Bent, screeching onto Leigh Avenue, both cars approaching a hundred miles per hour as they skid onto Hamilton Avenue. 

Try to remember this is Campbell not Miami and Larry is no Don Johnson. He asks if there is a patrol car anywhere in the vicinity but the dispatcher only wants the address of the invaded house. When he gives her the address, she promptly switches him from emergency to Campbell Police Department, essentially cutting off his chances of alerting a patrol car as to their location.

Larry decides his best option is to return to the scene of the crime. Four police cars arrive and they determine the empty house had indeed been broken into. The residents are out of town and a missing UPS package left on the porch was likely the only enticement needed for these cruising bandits to target the house. After running the plates from Larry's images they found out the car in question was stolen. Which means the young men will never be found or prosecuted. In incredible detail our neighbor's surveillance camera catches the entire episode on tape. 

From a wide-angle perspective the details unfold, including Larry rolling up to the crime scene, the brazen behavior of the young men, and finally Larry taking off in hot pursuit. The young men are wearing hoodies so their identity is impossible to make out. It's so frustrating. Larry decides to hide his car in the garage for a few days in case the perpetrators return for a little revenge. By the time I return home, the story has been circulating the neighborhood for hours, with each telling the details grow exponentially, and a bottle of wine is required for a proper narration. 

"I can't believe you chased a gang of criminals down Leigh Avenue going a hundred. They could of shot at you or worse." 

"What could be worse?"

"They could of beaten you to death with a baseball bat."

"They were bold, it was the middle of the day."

"I thought the suburbs were safe?"

"Honey, we're not in Kansas anymore." (We lived in Kansas for about three years when we were first married so it's sort of an inside joke - Haha)

"Try to remember that next time you have the urge to don your Superman cape and save the day."

We keep his car tucked away for the next few days, until Larry has to go out of town, and wants my car in the garage for safety purposes? That's sweet but his car is like a beacon for angry delinquents. Right? As luck would have it the first night I am all alone in the house. I'm an adult, I can sleep alone in my own house, two down from the one that was recently robbed, of which my husband tried to single handedly apprehend the perpetrators. I'm fine and in my back pocket I have my sisters house, seven minutes away, with an empty guest room. She says I can come over anytime. I assume that includes the middle of the night...wouldn't you?

I secure the house twice, make sure my phone is fully charged, and leave on several lights in case I need water or something. It's late before I try to sleep because I binge watch Grace and Frankie for a few hours, it's a light comedy, and I think it might help me sleep. Then I play a few rounds of solitaire on my iPhone, call my sister again, work on a blog, refresh my water. I finally turn everything off and give the Rosary a try, somewhere between the third and forth decade, I dose off. At exactly 2:00 a.m. in the morning I wake up for absolutely no reason.

If only...the light in the hall didn't suddenly go dark. My breath catches in my throat, I sit straight up in bed, straining my ears for the slightest indication of an intruder, although difficult to hear over the sound of Shaggy's snoring (my fearless Portuguese Water dog). I know, it's like I'm staring in a B rated horror movie, I expect Jack Nicholson to appear, "Heeere's Johnny." I figure they are waiting me out and I have to remind myself to breath. Eventually I pull on a sweatshirt, drag Shaggy off his chair, and decide to inspect the house. I first check the light switch in the dark hall, if that thing goes on, I head straight to my sisters. The bulb is dead, a minor detail, I remain on high alert. I secure every damn door before peaking out the front window, searching for suspicious activity, grateful not to hear, "Wendy, I'm home." I head back to bed even though I am not convinced of my safety. I lay awake counting the people most likely to attend my funeral until the alarm sounds at 5:50 am (if you must know I counted eighty-six and that includes second cousins). 

If wasn't spirit week at Notre Dame, I wouldn't have to dress like a zoo animal this morning, and try to maintain control of a bunch of hyped up students when I'm exhausted. I notice my throat is itchy, not a good sign, and my sense of humor is AWOL. I'm so tired I don't even dry my hair, I just slap on these tiger ears I dug out of the costume bin in the hall, attach a tail to my ass, and drive to work gulping down a third cup of coffee. Let me just say it was a loooong day. I have to pick up a few things at the grocery store on my way home. I couldn't figure out why I was getting such odd looks until I got home and realize I had not de-tigered myself. It happens.

If wasn't Lent and I could have a glass of wine. 

Come visit me at Living in the Gap, drop-ins welcome!


Brenda St John Brown said...

Ok, that kept me riveted! Sounds like a little too much excitement for your average weekday, but I'm glad all is ok. (Aside from the robbery, obviously.) Our neighbors two doors down got robbed a couple of years ago and it definitely makes you hypervigilant!

Cheryl Oreglia said...

I think they got ink cartridges and nappies! They only made it into the garage by the time Larry pulled up and the driver called them in. They found a crowbar stuck in the patio door but no entry! It was so brazen. I guess our safety is just an illusion. But I do have a courageous husband! Did I say courageous I ment crazy! Thanks for reading Brenda!

Carrie Beckort said...

Wow, what a story and what a crazy experience! I'm always a mess when my husband travels. I've gotten better at getting to sleep, but it still doesn't really go well. And that's without having a real worry about robbers!

Cheryl Oreglia said...

I know this scenario all too well, Larry used travel every week when our kids were young, but at least I had the kids! The light was unfortunate!

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