Monday, June 25, 2012

The Virals Arrive

It should be one of those nights after we've worked in the yard when we come in to start the barbecue for dinner and it's already after eight.  Right now, the sky is a bright blue, though it's 10:00 pm, though the light has left the trees black in silhouette.  I find myself looking for the bats at this hour.  I think it's too cold.  Usually, the bats flitter and swoop in front of my window in summer evenings.  They look very much like swallows, but we live in a forest, not in an open field.  The swallows retire earlier than bats, in any case. 
I like bats.  Any creature that can eat between 600 and 1000 mosquitos in an hour is my friend.  I've been swooped by a bat, but never touched by one.  I've never met a bat with rabies, though I got to see some baby bats on a barn once.  They are very cute, like tiny mice with leathery wings.  I've certainly never had a bat try to suck my blood, though the thought that some bats in Central and South America actually feed on the blood of horses, cattle, and birds gives me a bit of a chill.  My bats are insectivores, likely little brown myotis, one of the most common bats in the US.  As long as I'm not going to be in the movie 'The Fly,' I should be okay.

"Help me, help me." 

I am so old that I remember this line from the original movie, not the one with Jeff Goldblum.  Granted, I like watching Jeff Goldblum, but in this case, I liked the original better than his remake.  Sorry Jeff.  Movies have gotten gory and I'm not a big fan.  I liked it better when they worked up the suspense for the first hour and finally gave you a glimpse of the beast at the end, just before the hero figured out what the monster's weakness was.  Remember 'The Blob' with Steve McQueen?  Same thing.  Back then, everyone was trying to mimic Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense.  Now they run down the tracks dug by movies like 'Pulp Fiction' by Quentin Tarantino or 'Natural Born Killers' by Oliver Stone.  Oh, I'm sure you could make a list of the most violent movies.  IMBD did.  Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of the gore.  I get scared at movies like 'I Am Legend.'  That movie scared the crap out of me.

So, all of this just had a great and terrifying interruption.  I won't feel better, I won't be able to sleep until I write about it.  Even then, I'm not so sure.  I am coming off a huge rush of adrenaline.

I was picturing those scary beings from the movie, 'I Am Legend' again.  That movie kept me from taking the garbage down after dark for a couple of years.  I recently recovered from that.  I've thought about it a great deal, why I might be so afraid of a movie like that.  It's because some people are truly monstrous and more than anything on this green earth, I am afraid of that certain kind of person.  A true psychological analysis might reveal that I'm afraid of that viral and violent person inside.

So, with all of this going through my head, my husband asked me to bring in the Dutch ovens from the front porch.  He has a cold and hadn't wanted to stink up the house with the fumes from seasoning them in the oven.  He tried to season them outside using briquettes.  I think he wanted to know if he could reseason them at camp.  Well, I was standing on my front porch, dumping ashes off the lids into the fire pit, at the same time thinking of these terrifying beings.  I always imagine them coming around the near corner of the house, teeth bared.  I'm less afraid of the bear that roams around the neighborhood, looking for food. 

Here's the thing about phobias.  The best advice I ever heard, and it was from Mike who hates to fly, is to feel the fear and do it anyway.  It's from some book he read.  Well, I did.  I dumped half those ashes into the fire pit while staring at that near corner, knowing that it was really unlikely that anyone would come around it.  But I did what he asked me to do and came back inside and locked the deadbolt.  I don't know why I feel safe after I turn that lock, but I do. 

I messed around in the kitchen for a bit after that and came back to the computer to finish up here.  Now, you should know that my computer is in front of a second-story window with a lovely view of trees during the day.  I also have a good view of my driveway. 

I was standing there with my tea when I noticed a red light blinking on the dash of my car.  Shoot, there's often a red light blinking there.  Then there were two red lights.  One seemed to be higher, moving, and just outside the driver side door.  I saw parts of my car reflecting that light.  The light was moving around at a height that indicated a person was holding it!  Then I noticed tail lights up the hill in the neighbor's driveway, just about even with my car in the driveway.  Someone tapped the brakes and the little rectangular tail lights got brighter for a moment.

Shit!   Someone was in my car!

For a moment, I didn't know what to do.  I wanted to make some loud noise, but I couldn't think how.  I wanted to flash bright lights and expose them. 

Then my adrenaline rush hit.  I am telling you - I am not good with an adrenaline rush.  Oh no.  Not at all.  Did I ever tell you about the time I cracked the pane of glass when I saw a peeping tom in my bedroom window?  It felt like that.  My only thought was that I was going to stay between them and my family.

Without thinking, I actually grabbed my phone, pounded down the stairs, and ran out onto my front porch!

"Hey, you FUCKERS!"  I yelled.  "Get the FUCK off my property.  I have a gun and I'm FUCKING happy to use it on an ASSHOLE like you!" 

Can you believe I said that? 

I can't.  What an idiot.  (That line was from Harry Potter.)

As I was saying this, I realized that I was
  1. scaring the shit out of some teenagers looking for loose change, or
  2. staring into the dark at a viral freak who might actually shoot me with the gun he'd stolen from the last idiot that yelled those words at him.

I don't like those odds.  I stomped back into my house, slammed the door, and locked it.  Then I pounded up the stairs.  I watched out my tower window as the car rolled down the neighbor's driveway.  I saw brake lights a couple more times, and the car drove away rather sedately down the highway.  I expected them to peel out, but they didn't.  Maybe they weren't scared teenagers after all.

Mike came out of the bedroom and I told them there was somebody in the car.  I held up my phone.

"Should I call the police?"  I asked him. 

"Yes," he said as he disappeared back into the bedroom.  My hands were shaking as I tried to touch the right keys on my phone.  Mike came back out again, and looked out the second-story window with me while I stood for half a second, the ringing phone to my ear. It was completely dark out there, no lights at all. 

When dispatch got on the phone I think my voice was still really loud, though I left all the obscenities out of it.  I told this nice woman the whole story, even the part about going outside and threatening to kill them.  I didn't tell her the curses I used, but I imagine she could guess.  I managed to tell her I didn't think it was very smart, but in that fight or flight situation, I've always headed toward the trouble instead of away from it.  She was very nice on the phone and managed to get my vital information.  Then I burst into tears.  She was nice for that part too.

My stomach doesn't feel very well, right now.  I think I need to go make another cup of tea.  Good Earth Sunset Red.  I definitely don't need caffeine right now.  I can still feel the adrenaline pulsing through my veins.

So, after I was done crying, done telling the dispatch officer all the details, and done telling her that my husband had gone outside alone.  She told me to ask him to come back inside to wait for the police to arrive and then got off the phone with me.  I felt much better when Mike did come back inside.

We were still standing in the foyer when a light shone on my truck.  For a second, I thought the virals had returned.  Then I realized this was no pen light.  The police had arrived.  Mike and I went outside to meet her, a good, solid police officer from the sherrif's department. 

She was nice too.  I told my story all over again.  Both Mike and the police officer had said, "You thought you saw a car in the neighbor's driveway?"

And both times, I said, "I am positive that I saw a car in that driveway.  I saw the tail lights, small rectangular tail lights."  I just realized that I never saw headlights.  Huh.  We covered the fact that I did not see a person in or near my car.  I just saw a small light waving around.  Neither did I see a car.  I just saw tail lights.  What was I supposed to see out my window at 11:00 at night?  But I managed to keep my tongue.

The officer said she had a few more questions for me, but did I want to go inside and get a jacket first?  I hadn't realized that I was standing there in the sleeveless shirt I'd hiked in earlier.  I told her I wasn't cold, but it was probably from the adrenaline.  She laughed.  Then, as she asked some more questions and filled out the answers on the computer in her SUV, I made a crack about texting while driving. 

I am not good on adrenaline.  Really. 

She actually answered my question logically and with no resentment.  I apologized.  I told her that I was in round three of my adrenaline rush.  First, fight.  Second, cry.  Third, shake and say stupid things. 

After all that, there was absolutely no evidence that someone had been out there.  The ten dollars was still in the glove box so I could get gas even if I ran out of money.  I had thought that it was a twenty, but I told Mike I was pretty sure they hadn't taken my twenty and left change. 

The police officer finished her report and said she would go look for them.

"For what?" I asked. "I have no idea what kind of car it was."

She laughed. 

"You'd be surprised what I can find.  They're out there.  They show up."  I believe that she can. I remembered to thank her before she backed down our driveway.   

It's been hard to settle down.  When we came inside, Mike showed me that he had loaded one of our pistols and had it in his pocket. 

"Shouldn't you have told the police you were carrying?" I asked.

"I'm entitled to carry on my own property," he replied.  Still, if I were a police officer, I'd appreciate knowing if I was standing around talking with a person carrying a loaded gun.

Mike took less time that I did to calm down, bless him.  He held me while I cried again. 

"I don't want to shoot a person," I told him.  "I will if I have to, but it will change who I am if I do."

"You were very brave," he told me.

"Yeah, and stupid for going out there and yelling at them," I said.

"I don't think they're coming back here any time soon.  Good job." 

"I don't know.  It doesn't feel like a good job.  I'm not leaving the boys alone here for a while."

"Good idea," he said.  "Are you coming into bed soon?"

"I can't sleep.  Can I have the gun out in the living room with me?  I need the ammunition and the key to the trigger lock too."  I intend to be prepared in case the virals return. 

Thank you for listening, jb

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