For a time, when we lived in the country, there was a family living next door that owned a horse. The horse was housed in a barn that had been fashioned from a truck body that had been removed from its chassis and placed on the ground. Because the horse was in the metal “barn” and the “barn” was on the ground, and this patch of ground was about 25 feet from our house, every time the horse made the slightest movement our house worked as a giant horse-fired tuning fork, and we could hear (and, it seemed, feel) every twitch.
Tonight I went to bed on our old futon on the floor of Oliver’s room. Catherine had surgery on her Tuesday, and for the time being it’s better that we don’t share the same bed, for she’s prone to keeping me up, and that makes me keep her up. And so on.
Around 2:00 a.m. I heard a rumble and ramble that sounded very much like that old horse in the country reverberating through the floor.
At first I assumed it was simple some sort of connection between our next door neighbour’s house and ours, just like the horse connection (Oliver’s room is the closest one to our neighbour’s house), but that seemed a little odd.
Then I thought maybe Catherine was downstairs making some sort of delirious middle of the night swiss steak that required much pounding. But that seemed even stranger.
So I got up and went to the end of the upstairs hall and realized that someone was trying to get into our front door. They were banging really, really hard.
Now in the middle of the night, when you are half awake, and your partner, and your two year old son, and your mother are all in bed upstairs, and you hear someone banging violently on your front door, you don’t think “oh, I should go and see who it is.” You think “holy shit, some crazed lunatic is trying to break into our house to get heroin money.”
And so I pressed what I assumed was the “send the police right away” button on the upstairs alarm button panel. This caused a very loud, whopping siren to go off in the basement (it turned out I’d pressed the “send the fire department right away” button). And for a moment, the banging stopped. I ran downstairs to get the phone when the alarm call centre phoned (note to self: get a phone installed upstairs). But I missed their call.
Then the banging started again.
I grabbed the phone and ran upstairs and dialed 911. By this time my mother and Catherine were up and around. 911 answered. “There’s somebody trying to break into my front door,” I said. “Is your house on fire,” they said. “No,” I replied. I explained the sequence of events. By the time I put the phone down, there was a City Police van in front of the house and two police officers were out and in our vestibule.
I heard one of the on his walkie-talkie: “please phone the complainant and tell them we’re outside and everything is okay.”
I opened the front door. And outside was a very nice police officer, who asked me if I knew the obviously very drunk teenager who was standing outside my door. “It’s a drunk kid,” he said, “convinced that his friend is inside.”
I reassured him that this wasn’t the case, thanked him very much, and off they went.
So, as it turns out, it was a simple case of mistaken address induced by alcohol.
What’s weird is that even now that an hour has passed, I still have bucketloads of adrenalin coursing through my veins. It’s like some vestigal reservoir, stored for “protect your family” situations, kicked in when required. Although the situation ended up being somewhat absurd and trivial, my response, when the fear was of the unknown, not “a drunk kid,” was primitive and very real.
On Monday morning I’ll probably go up to Canadian Tire and buy some more fire extinguishers and smoke alarms. Now I’m going to try to go to bed.
Thanks to the City Police who responded so quickly to my panic, to the Message Centre who did exactly what they were supposed to. And hey, drunk kid: don’t drink so much.