The Night Was Shattered

It is a dramatic title and perhaps it implies more drama than the episode deserves, but then again that depends upon your perception.

It was twilight. The sun was setting in the west and the sky had patches of orange and blue. Fall is slow to come to California but there was a brief hint of it as you could feel a hint of cool air. When the knock on my door came I was playing with my children.

It was next door neighbor. She is 82, but quite spry. She is a remarkable woman. How many 82 year-old women do you know that drive a red Corvette.

“Jack, come quick. There is a strange man on my roof.”

My son began to follow me outside. I calmly told him to go back in and to lock the door. As we walked next door she explained to me that she had heard a loud noise and gone into the backyard to investigate. She looked up and saw a face peering back at her. They exchanged a few words and then she ran inside to call the police.

Moments later she came and got me. I was very calm. I suggested that she let me check out the backyard by myself but she insisted on coming. For that matter I might have chosen to wait for the police to arrive, but I knew that she would have gone back into the yard and I couldn’t let her go by herself.

So we walked in. I scanned the yard and the roofline. Her home is 10 feet from my own. We share a fence. The person who was on her roof was intruding on my space and potentially threatening my family. This is completely unacceptable.

It took just a moment to confirm that he was no longer on the roof. A ladder against the wall made it appear that he had probably used that to jump into another yard. Nonetheless I walked through every room in her home and opened the closets.

He wasn’t there.

It is funny how adrenalin works. In a relatively short period of time I had gone from a very peaceful state to one in which I felt energized and alert. The blood was pumping and I was prepared to deal with whatever came. But the point of being calm is that you make rational decisions.

The police were on their way and given a choice I had no desire to confront this man. I don’t need to be the hero, but threaten my family and I will provide a suitable response.

When we stepped back outside to await the police it was a bit darker, but the street was growing quieter. Most people were home from work and I suspect that many were eating dinner. And that quiet is what allowed me to hear the man in the yard of the house next to my neighbor.

The owner is another elderly woman who lives by herself. Along with my next door neighbor we knocked on the front door and went inside. I didn’t think that the mystery roof man was going to be a problem, but I didn’t want to take any chances. So when my neighbor opened the door we quickly explained what was going on and I went out to the porch to take a look.

For a moment it all seemed so unreal. It reminded me of being a kid and the games we used to play. I was doing a little recon to see where the enemy was hiding. Only I didn’t expect to find a bunch of 10 and 11 year-old boys.

Standing in her backyard I looked and listened. There was another noise, some sort of rustling and I knew that someone was climbing out of the yard. I didn’t shout. I didn’t yell. I didn’t want to cause a scene. I didn’t know who the mystery man was. I didn’t know if he was drunk, high or just crazy. I walked purposefully, but quietly towards the noise but by the time I reached the point at which I had heard it no one was there. It is a six foot fence so I cannot say that I was surprised.

The sound of walkie-talkies made it evident that the police had arrived. The fellowship of three headed outside to greet them. We explained what had happened and then learned that a neighbor one block over had called them as well. It seems that she too had found a man on her roof.

Now I have seen a lot of things in life. I have a pretty open mind, but I have yet to see it rain men and I have no reason to believe that there is a sudden roof climbing epidemic so I suspect that the mystery roof man was busy today.

I may sound cavalier and some of this may sound like it is tongue-in-cheek but I assure you that this is all true. And I can also promise you that for the sweet old lady next door the night was shattered. She will not sleep as peacefully as she would like to.

And I can also tell you that as I sit here in the dark with nothing but a keyboard and my thoughts I am mildly concerned. I don’t really expect there to be a problem. I don’t believe that anything is going to happen, but at the same time old Jack has an active memory and the news as of late has not been real pleasant.

I may very well sleep on the floor in my children’s room. Chances are that nothing is going to happen, but I am feeling a little amped about this as well as a little bit sad. The innocence of childhood is far too brief. Part of my job is to help them maintain that for as long as possible.

I’ll see you all in the morning time. Daylight and some rest will bring a happier Jack and a more positive view.

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