March 13, 2010
For whom the bell tolls ... in the middle of the night
By Jeff Mullin, Commentary
Enid News and Eagle
— Home invasions are serious business.
According to the Justice Department, one in every five homes will experience a break-in or home invasion. There are more than 8,000 home invasions every day in North America.
What is more scary, 38 percent of assaults and 60 percent of rapes occur during home invasions.
Earlier this week in Palm Beach, Fla., a 23-year-old man was shot to death during a home invasion.
Two people were hospitalized in Jenks Thursday after being injured in a home invasion.
Even Susan Boyle, the shy Scottish lady whose appearance on “Britain’s Got Talent” rocketed her to worldwide singing fame, is not safe. Boyle was returning from London Jan. 26, where she recorded a charity single to help fund relief efforts in earthquake-torn Haiti, when she surprised a 16-year-old boy who had broken into her home. He ran, but was later arrested.
A home invasion had a happy ending in California recently when a 7-year-old boy, identified only as Carlos, called 911 while hiding in a bathroom with his little sister as armed men held his parents at gunpoint.
The 911 call caught the sound of screaming as the intruders broke down the bathroom door. When the armed men found out Carlos was on the phone with 911, they fled.
Which leads us to the wee hours of last Sunday morning, the dead of night ... OK, it was 1:21 a.m. But for someone my age, who normally struggles to stay awake during the 10 p.m. news, it was pretty darn late.
There I was, minding my own business, locked in the nightly life or death struggle for the covers, dead to the world, deep in REM sleep dreaming of who knows what, when the doorbell rang.
At first I wasn’t sure whether or not the sound was part of my dream. But the second time it rang there could be no doubt.
I lay there, thinking that whoever it was would get tired of ringing the bell and go away. Wrong.
The bell rang again. I ignored it. And again, same response from me.
Finally our night visitor became impatient and began ringing the doorbell incessantly, ding dong, ding dong, ding dong ... well, you get the picture.
By that time my bride, who could sleep through a small explosion, awoke, and I jumped out of bed.
“This better be good,” I growled as I pulled on my robe.
Let us pause for a moment to consider just what our night visitor was about to face. I am devastatingly plain on my best day, but in the middle of the night I resemble one of the creatures from Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” except not nearly so cute.
My hair looked like I had just stuck my finger in a light socket and there was a trickle of drool drying on my chin.
As I stumbled to the front door I considered the possibilities. Perhaps it was a neighbor in trouble, or a passerby needing help, or maybe someone playing a joke.
Never once did I consider the possibility it might be someone planning a home invasion.
Let us pause for another moment to consider that, when awake, I am a relatively rational human being, not prone to bouts of recklessness, who wouldn’t dream of opening my door to a stranger in the middle of the night.
So when I reached the door, naturally, I opened not only the wooden door, but the glass storm door as well.
On my front walk stood a man probably in his 30s, wearing a ball cap. To his credit he did not take a step back at my disheveled appearance, but said “Oh, I’m sorry, I guess I’ve got the wrong house.”
Let us pause for yet another moment to consider that, when awake, I have been known to be able to put together cogent and occasionally erudite sentences.
“You must, because I have no idea who you are,” I managed to mumble. Wow. I really told him.
“I’m sorry,” he said again, and walked away.
I closed the door and stood for a moment. I thought I heard a car pull away.
When I returned to our room I found my bride half out of bed. She scolded me for opening the door.
“You could have been mass murdered, we could have been mass murdered,” she said.
True enough. It was stupid.
Next time something similar happens, if there is a next time, I will be prepared. I will not open the door. I will make sure I am armed when I answer the bell.
Or I’ll just stay in bed and make my bride deal with it.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org