Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2270705-INTRUDER
by SSpark
Rated: E · Non-fiction · Family · #2270705
Three girls alone. Intruder at the door. What do we do?

We didn’t have a gun that worked, and the kitchen was too far away to grab a knife. Our only protection lay in our minds.

Spring had come and it was time for another season of Little League baseball. I was twelve, Dee Dee eleven and Katy nine the night Mama left us for a couple of hours while she and Pete went to the registration meeting. The three of us were laying around the living room, watching TV, when we heard the doorknob on the front door rattle.

“Did y’all hear that,” I asked, unsure they could hear me over the noise of my heartbeat.

“I did,” Katy whispered. The blood had drained from her face and her eyes looked like blue billiard balls.

“So did I,” Dee Dee added through clenched teeth. I had expected to have to hold her down as she marched to the door to confront the would-be burglar. But she looked as terrified as me.

We each held our breath, inching together toward the hallway. The living room sat just to the left of the front door, and we’d have to move past it to get out. As our feet left living room carpet, transitioning to entryway terrazzo, something bumped against the door.

“Bathroom!” Dee Dee ordered.

The three of us moved as one, running as fast as we could to the bathroom, locking the door behind us.

“What are we going to do?” Katy’s voice trembled as tears welled up. “We don’t have any protection. And what does he even want? We don’t have anything a burglar would want.”

“Yeah, but he must not know that, which makes everything worse.” I had been wondering the same thing. It couldn’t be anyone who knew us. Everyone we knew would know there was nothing inside our house worth stealing. “When he doesn’t find anything he wants, he’ll be mad and then he’ll definitely kill us.”

And just like that, the burglar had transformed from a thief to a murderer.

“Once he gets through the front door, he can kick through this one with no problem.” My mind was spinning, trying to figure out a solution.

“The first thing we have to do Is make sure the cops can find him if he kills us.” Dee Dee was pacing back and forth, her mind was whirling, too. “And we need to find a way to fight.”

“We can use Pete’s detective kit!” Katy’s eyes brightened, discovering a scrap of hope.

Pete had received a detective kit for Christmas, three months before. A jar of fingerprinting powder was included, and we knew it to be at least half full. We knew because we had helped him use the other half. The only problem would be getting our hands on it. There were ten long feet of hallway separating us from the kit. Getting from the bathroom to Pete’s bedroom and back would be tricky. Before we could risk anyone trying it, we had to be sure the murderer hadn’t already made it into the house.

Silently unlocking the bathroom door and opening it only enough to stick out our ears, we crowded around the crack, one hanging over another. The house sat in silence. He hadn’t made it in yet, but we could hear noises at the back door. He must have given up getting in the front.

“Okay, let’s think,” I said. “We can’t all go, just in case he’s already in. I’ll do it. Y’all stay in here and, if you see him follow me, lock this door and don’t let him in, no matter what happens”

Dee Dee, shook her head. “You’re too slow, Stephie. I’m much faster; I’ll go. I can run into Pete’s room, grab the kit, and get back in here before you even start.” I rolled my eyes, but I knew she was right.

Dee Dee was set. “Y’all just be ready to get that door locked as soon as I get back in.”

“Okay,” I said, grabbing the door handle. “Five, four, three, two – go!” I opened the door just wide enough for Dee Dee to escape, and she ran. In less than four seconds she was back, kit in hand. I slammed the door closed and locked it when she was safe inside.

Opening the kit, we were disappointed to find less fingerprint powder than we had remembered. “There’s enough to coat the door handle and faucets, though.” Sensing it was important to remain positive, I was trying to find a way through our setback.

“Wait!” Dee Dee’s back straightened. “There’s baby powder in the cabinet! We can use it after the fingerprint stuff runs out.”

We moved quickly, skillfully dousing the waiting fixtures. In a matter of seconds the door handle and wood surrounding it were covered in black dust. Both faucets of the double sinks were smeared as well, dark powder trailing onto the white vanity. When the last speck left the jar, Katy whipped out the baby powder, squeezing white puffs into the air until fine particles coated every inch of the five-foot countertop.

Time was running out. We knew we had a few minutes at the most to prepare ourselves for the worst.

All of a sudden, the door to the built-in dirty clothes hamper started to glow, as if our guardian angels were working together, shining spotlights on it. “I’ve got it!” I said, moving toward the flap at the top. “Katy, we’re going to hide you in here. He’ll never think to look for anyone in the dirty clothes.”

Jerking open the hamper door, we found it half full. Perfect! The plan was foolproof. We yanked out all the stinky clothes then Dee Dee and I shoved Katy inside, piling them back in on top of her. Opening the flap, we could barely see her eyes. Satisfied, we figured Katy would be able to peek out without detection once the maniac made his way in to kill us.

“Katy, we’re going to close this flap. No matter what happens, you have to be quiet. When you hear him fighting with us, open the flap just enough to get a good look at him. You’re gonna be our eyewitness and it’s up to you to make sure the cops get him. But don’t let him see you or hear you!” Katy’s eyes were filling with tears again as Dee Dee gave her the orders. “You’re tough, Katy. You can do it. This is important.” Katy nodded her head, too distraught to answer.

Dee Dee held onto the baby powder as I grabbed a bottle of alcohol out of the cabinet and shut the door. “Once he gets in, I’ll break this bottle and use it to cut him up,” I explained to Dee Dee. “Being alcohol, it will sting him while it slashes. That may catch him off guard enough for you to get out.”

Something else clicked in Dee Dee’s brain. “I’m going to dust the entire floor, and we’ll stand all the way back here,” she said, moving to the wall farthest from the bathroom door. “That way they’ll get his footprints, too.”

“Good idea, Dee Dee. And you can squirt it in his eyes if he gets close enough. He won’t be able to see with baby powder in his eyes.”

I moved to the wall, standing as close to it as I could, as Dee Dee released the powder, moving backward to the door then back to me, careful to tiptoe around the baseboards so it wouldn’t be her footprints the cops would find. We held our breath as the whole room filled with white particles. We couldn’t afford to cough. Even though we hadn’t heard him, he had surely made it into the house by now. We didn’t want to alert him to where we were hiding.

As Dee Dee moved toward me, I grabbed her and held on tight. “I want you to know I love you, Stephie,” she whispered. I squeezed her hard in response.

For an instant quiet replaced dread, falling with powder flecks, around us. Then we heard the back door slam.

“Boy, that wind is strong tonight,” hollered Pete.

“Sure is,” Mama replied. We could hear her moving through the den. “Where on earth are the girls?”

Our eyes straining to stay in their sockets, Dee Dee and I looked at each other, then at the door, and raced toward it. “Mama!” we screamed as the door handle hit the wall. Dee Dee ran out, dragging white powder with her, covered head to toe in the stuff. I remembered Katy, who was kicking inside the hamper, trying to get out. Opening the door, dirty clothes tumbled into the residue, and Katy unfolded enough to where I could help her stand up.

Mama stood in the doorway, mouth open but not speaking, Dee Dee and Pete beside her. As her eyes roamed the bathroom, she finally found her voice.


“Did you see anyone outside when you drove up, Mama?” Dee Dee asked.

“Yeah, Mama! Did you see the guy outside, trying to break in?” Since we hadn’t seen him, we hoped either Mama or Pete could describe him to the cops.

“I don’t know what the hell y’all are talking about! There was no one outside!” Mama wasn’t interested in hearing about him, either. “You three get this damn mess cleaned up and then I’ll listen. Hurry up, it’s a school night and you need to get to bed!” With that she marched into her bedroom, slamming the door behind her.

The three of us, who had barely escaped sure death before Mama and Pete scared off the faceless intruder, stood motionless, watching as baby powder settled onto the hallway floor.

“Um, girls?” Pete was still standing there, eyes questioning.

“It was awful, Pete,” Katy cried. “A man was trying to break in the house, and he was going to kill us. Well, he was going to kill Dee Dee and Steph, but I was going to be the eyewitness.”

“We had it all planned out.” Dee Dee stood next to Mama’s empty footprints. “But you and Mama scared him off.”

Taking a moment to think, Pete came up with his own plan. “Then let’s get my detective kit and dust the front and back door handles! Maybe we can still find out who he is,” Pete exclaimed, turning toward his room.

“Weeelll . . .”

For the last time that night, the three of us moved in unison.

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