When Tom and I were coming home from the grocery store on Saturday, we noticed an odd car parked in the street in front of our house. I instantly assumed we were getting robbed because I have an irrational fear of home invasions. I have read too many crime stories and watched too many documentaries on murderers. I will never forget watching the testimony of the BTK killer who said he waited in one of his victims closets until she was asleep to make his move. It terrified me. When I lived alone, I checked every closet and the shower every day. If someone was in there, I wanted to get it over with. And even now, I live with Tom, but the fear is still there. I have tried to tell myself I’m overreacting but isn’t having an irrational fear what that’s all about – overreacting?
“Do you think it’s robbers?” I asked Tom.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Elyse.” Tom looked at me and smiled. He has always embraced my neurosis.
I stopped short of the garage as the door opened to let Tom out. As soon as he had one leg out, he started yelling. “Oh no! Oh no! Oh god!”
“What?! What do you see?” I was looking around frantically. I couldn’t see anything. Is this it?
“Stay in the car, Elise!” Tom jumped out of the car and started running into the garage waving his arms frantically and yelling. And that’s when I saw what he saw – an unnaturally large rodent with webbed feet, rabbit teeth and a rat tail. It was slowly waddling into our garage.
“What is that thing?” I yelled out my window. I had never seen anything like it.
“I think it’s a woodchuck.” Tom replied coming to the car to hand me a rake. He had opted for a large broom. We were both shaking.
“Hmm, that’s not what I imagined a woodchuck looking like…what are we going to do? I’m scared.”
“Elyse, we have to get it out of here but first we have to find it.” The intruder had found its way into the junk pile of the garage. While our house is spotless, the garage had become storage despite our large unfinished basement.
We started poking around in the piles of stuff. I was stomping and banging the rake on the floor to try to scare it. Tom wasn’t amused at my antics.
“Elyse, get serious. We have to get this thing out.”
“I am serious but I’m scared. What if it has rabies?”
“Don’t put those ideas in my head.” Tom was starting to freak out too.
“Aaaaaaaahhhhhh!” Tom found it. I jumped and ran out of the garage as fast as I could while screaming for my life. The intruder was making piles of things move as it jumped and hissed.
“Oh god. Oh god. Tom, what do we do?” I was standing at the edge of the garage. I was starting to pace and walk in circles dragging the rake. “I think I need a shovel.”
Tom was cornered on the stairs leading into the house refusing to open the door. He was jumping on my irrational bandwagon convinced the intruder would run into the house as soon as he opened the door. It had turned into an old-fashioned standoff – Tom vs. The Intruder.
We stood in the garage debating what to do for a while. I was useless. I was too scared to get close to it. I made myself busy arranging a barricade while Tom was increasingly getting frustrated with me.
“Elyse, you aren’t helping. Can you call animal control or something?”
“I know! I’ll go get our neighbor. Maybe he’ll have a good idea.” I walk across the street in disbelief listening to Tom gasp every time the intruder jumped. What were the chances we would interrupt the intruder’s nightly stroll and open the garage door at just the right moment? It really was unbelievable.
Our neighbor didn’t want anything to do with the intruder. He suggested I call animal control. He closed the door with a smile. I could tell he was amused at the situation. And as I looked over my shoulder walking back to our house, I saw him, his daughter and mom all peering out the window to watch the debacle happening in our garage. This was the most exciting thing to happen in our subdivision since the chalk graffiti from an angry ex-girlfriend. She wrote all over the block things like “cheater” and “I don’t love you”. It was awesome.
After ten more minutes of screaming, jumping, yelling and moving things, our neighbors decided to come help. They couldn’t watch us struggle any longer. I had more courage once there were more people. I started poking it with the shovel. It was a mean bastard. It kept biting and hissing at the shovel. It was also terrified like I was. It peed all over the place as I continued to fight back.
A few minutes later, my neighbor stepped in to help. He grabbed a broom and started pushing the intruder out of its hiding spot with the handle. Inside the garage was an adrenaline chorus of gasps, oooh’s and ahhh’s. I just knew the intruder was going to jump and bite me on his way out.
“You got it! There he goes!” Tom was beaming as the Intruder, no longer waddling, ran out of the garage.
“Shut the door, shut the door. Elyse, shut the door now!”
My legs were weak from fear. I quickly pressed the button relieved – I had survived my first home invasion.