Sunday, July 30, 2017
(c)Linda Goodman July 30, 2017
In the spring of 2013 I went grocery shopping and returned home with a car full of bright blue, plastic Food Lion grocery bags. My husband, Phil, and I had just moved to Waxhaw, North Carolina a few months earlier, and we were enjoying our peaceful home in the woods. We lived on a one-half mile long street that had only ten houses on it. All our neighbors worked for businesses in Charlotte or Monroe, so they were not home during the day. My husband, however, was retired; and I worked my storytelling business from home. Sometimes the dead silence felt creepy. As I got my groceries out of the car I thought to myself, if a wild animal (coyote, bear) were to attack me, no matter how loud I screamed, no one would hear me.
Carrying several bags of groceries, I walked up the sidewalk on my way to the front door, when I glanced at one of our garage windows and noticed a man dressed in black, wearing a wide brimmed black hat, walking across the garage. It took a minute for my internal bells to sound the alarm. SOMEONE WAS IN MY GARAGE!
I looked again, but saw no one. Was my garage door locked? I couldn't remember. That man could be in my house at this very minute, I realized. He could be waiting in a closet or behind a door to rob me, or worse!
Take it easy, I told myself; don't let your imagination run away with you. THINK! My husband was fishing with our son-in-law that day. Neither of them would be of any help to me. My cell phone was in the house. As usual, I had forgotten to put it in my purse before I left for the grocery store.
I considered that I could get back in my car, drive to the convenience store down the road, and call the police. That was probably the smartest thing to do; but I did not act smart. I panicked. I took my key out of my purse and opened the door.
"Phil, honey," I yelled, "I think there is someone in the house. Get your gun out of the car."
I was hoping that this would scare the man into running out the back door, but nothing happened.
"Whoever is in here, you better leave," I shouted. "We have a gun and we know how to use it. My husband has a sharp-shooter medal from the Marines!"
I lowered the register of my voice and did a fair impression of my angry husband, "We are going to leave and come back in 10 minutes. If you are still here when we get back, I'm going to blow your head off!"
I deposited my grocery bags on the front porch and went back to the car. I drove to the convenience store and got myself a half-and-half ice tea. After hearing my story, the store clerk convinced me that I should call the police.
Ten minutes later, I stood on my front porch waiting for the police to arrive. When they got there, I unlocked my front door. As they searched my house I mourned the ice cream bars that had surely melted by that time. This was not turning out to be a very good day. No one had ever invaded my home before. I would never feel safe in this house again.
The two policemen took their time and did a thorough search. They found no one.
"He must have run off while I went to the convenience store," I advised them. "He was probably scared of my husband's invisible gun."
"Ma'am, there was no one in your house," the younger of the two policemen insisted. "There was no sign of forced entry, either. Did you leave one of the doors unlocked?"
"Impossible," I said. "I am adamant about locking my doors. I check them over and over again before I go anywhere."
"Where did you say you saw this man?" the policeman asked.
"He was walking past the garage windows," I replied.
The policeman's brow furrowed. "Was he walking on air?"
"What do you mean, was he walking on air?" I asked.
"Well, Ma'am," the policeman explained, "while we were searching the garage, I noticed that the garage windows were seven feet off the ground. The man would have had to have been very tall for you to have seen him walking past those windows."
That had not occurred to me, but I had to admit that the young policeman was right.
The older policeman decided to add his two cents, "It was probably old Sully," he said. "Old Sully had a fit when he found out that homes were going to be built on this land. It was land that was taken from him to pay back taxes. He took to wearing black after the building started. He was in mourning for his land."
"Well that proves that I saw someone," I concluded. "The man I saw was wearing black. Are you going to arrest this Sully person?"
The older policeman shook his head. "We can't arrest Old Sully, Ma'am. He died about three weeks after the construction of these homes began. You're not the first person on this street to get a visit from him. Reckon he is still mad about his land."
After the police left and I had put my groceries away, I went through everything in the house to make sure that nothing was missing. Early that evening, while I was reading on my back deck, I saw a black flash streak through the woods behind our house. "Bye, Old Sully," I called out. "Don't come back. It's my house now."
I never saw Old Sully again.