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I have a reoccurring nightmare where I am frantically trying to lock the kitchen door at the house where I grew up, while an unknown, sinister presence is fast approaching. I fumble with the latch, opening and closing the door, and I am beside myself that I just can’t get it to lock! My heart is pounding with fear as I realize the presence is drawing closer and closer through the outside darkness. This dream has been haunting me for decades. This is how it began:
It was the summer of my seventeenth year when it started–we were being “peeped”! We were a household of four, cute sisters, as well as an attractive mother which, I’m sure, added to the appeal of being targeted.
One of my sisters had a couple of friends visiting one evening and they were all in the bedroom yakking and giggling when my sister spied a man’s face peering in at them through the open window. Screams ensued, the man ran off and we tried to forget it.
But some weeks later, while I was reading in my parents’ bedroom one night (they were not home); I heard footsteps slowly approaching the window. A brother and his friend were out in the living room, so I went to them and whispered urgently that someone was prowling around outside! They stealthily crept out the front door and around the side of the house and surprised a guy that they then chased across the neighbor’s backyard and tackled to the ground. He was dressed only in bra and panties! After my brother threatened him with “stay away from our house or else”, he sent him packing and he never showed up again.
But it was the next incident that scared us the worst. After falling asleep one night on our enclosed porch with one of our Siamese cats snuggled in next to me, I was awakened abruptly to find my cat leaning over my head, peering intently through the darkened window, growling quietly under his breath. I froze with fear when I heard the now-too-familiar sound of foot falls, and then, with my heart pounding in my ears, heard the door knob being jiggled back and forth inches from my head! Someone was trying to get in! (Thank God the door was locked. It was rare that our doors were ever locked in those days). After a few suspenseful minutes where I couldn’t bring myself to move, the bathroom light suddenly came on. I leapt out of bed and ran to the bathroom where my mother had gotten up to go–and breathlessly told her what had happened. That same moment, one of my sisters came home and I anxiously recounted what had just occurred. It was there, where we were gathered talking, that we noticed the outline of large, dirty shoe prints on the living room carpet! We tracked them through the dining room and on into the kitchen to find the kitchen door wide open to the outside! He had actually come into the house within feet of where I had just been laying!
This episode began a series of events that started with someone providing my brother with a shotgun for our protection! Our father was mostly an absentee one so my brother took matters into his own hands.
One evening he decided to lie in wait in the dark shadows of the backyard and see if our intruder would show up. His ammunition was rock salt so it really wouldn’t do much bodily harm if he did manage to hit him. Well, lo and behold, after a short wait, here came our guy! My brother took careful aim from his hiding place in the shrubs and fired–hitting the backdoor! The guy took flight with my brother in hot pursuit. They ran down the street and around the corner where my brother again took aim and this time hit his target square in the buttocks! At this point, our intruder really became frantic and sought sanctuary with one of our close neighbors, screaming that there was a madman after him trying to kill him! When my brother caught up to them and set the story straight, the neighbor and he detained the guy until the police arrived. This man turned out to be a different prowler than the previous underwear clad “peeper”. I don’t remember if he was ever identified as the one who had earlier entered our home.
We had no further incidents after that and no charges were filed against my brother.
But the nightmare remains for me.