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Small Town Tale

"...sound of woman who sings low alto shreiking in high soprano..."

I used that phrase to express frustration about something a few days ago, but it reminded me of an occurrence that could only happen in a small town.

A few years ago my mother was hospitalized rather suddenly. A friend of ours had helped her get to the hospital, and had been kind enough to alert the local police in my small hometown that the house would be empty for at least the first night (until I could get there). When I got to town, of course I was spending most of my time with Mother, at the hospital. I didn't think about the police having been notified.

The second night I was there, a police officer came to the front door, figuring I was the person in the house, but wanting to make sure. He was a friend of the family, so we chatted for a few moments, and I thought the rest of the officers would be informed that I was indeed the person in the house--which is a block away from the police station.

A few more days passed, with Mother continuing to improve. It was autumn, and still warm enough to have the windows and doors open. I was sitting in the back of the house, giving a progress report by phone to a friend. Since I had let Mother's dog out to play in the back yard (fenced), the back door was open.

All of a sudden, I heard a man's voice on the back porch. He spoke to the dog and called him by name. I was so startled that I began to shreik. In very high soprano.

My friend was still on the phone, scared, of course, preparing to break the connection to call the police for me.

But she didn't have to do that. As soon as I paused for breath and was starting another shreik, the man's voice got louder as he said. "Ma'am? It's the police. Please calm down!" So the shreik dwindled, and the officer introduced himself, made sure of my identity, and apologized for scaring me. Seems the announcement of my presence hadn't reached him.

My friend and I both calmed down, and made plans to get together at Mother's house the following afternoon. Shortly after my friend arrived, the phone rang. I answered, and the caller identified himself. It was the police chief. His first question was, "Are you the lady we scared so bad?" I said I was, and apologized for screaming. He assured me I had done exactly the right thing by making so much noise, then went on to tell me what had been going on the night before.

It seems the officer who knew the dog's name had been watching a young prospective mischief-maker, to see if the kid was planning trouble. The kid got a clue he was being watched, and took off. The officer was chasing him on foot, and thought the kid had come into Mother's house, because the officer saw the open door. (He didn't know I was there either--gee, for a small town, the grapevine was faulty that week!) So the officer jumped our fence, and was expecting to find a miscreant in the house.

The chief went on to explain that he himself had been on the scene, too, but he was in the front yard and heard enough to be sure that whoever was in the house was allowed to be there. He figured I'd had enough excitement for one evening, especially with a sick mother, so he didn't come to the door. We had a good laugh, he asked after my mother, then he promised he would make sure the rest of the force knew I belonged in the house.

Oh--the kid? Apparently he had run the rest of the way to his home. No trouble was had reported.

I spent the rest of my time there feeling very safe.

Text copyright 2000 Becky