Just like any other “get-ready-for-bed” evening, around 9:30. DDFT’s mother is out working hard, harder than you think, on behalf of Hollywood’s composers and songwriters.
I’ve already made tonight’s last call to Julianna (12) and Isabella (10) for brush your teeth, now! Now!
Then, the neighbors’ dogs start barking. And, that causes a chain reaction. Soon, our fierce chihuahuas join in the cause.
We hear a thud outside, nothing huge. Like a big wind knocked something over. I don’t think anything of it.
But, the wind is calm tonight. Too calm.
Me: Shush dogs! Knock it off! Bed time, girls! I’ve got work to do.
Isabella: Daddy, if that was wind, then I’m afraid that the umbrellas will fall into the pool.
Me: Honey, don’t worry. It’s not a windy tonight.
Iz: If it’s not a windy night, then what was that noise?
Julianna (rushed): I’m going to get the flower I left outside so it doesn’t blow over.
Me: Girls, it’s not windy. Nothing is getting blown over. Stop! Bedtime!
Julianna flips on the outside light, heads outside and grabs her flower off of the patio. The umbrellas are fine.
There’s another, lesser thump. She heads back in.
Iz: But, Daddy… There’s no wind, didn’t you heard another thump?
Me: I don’t know, honey. Maybe, I’m busy.
I keep typing away at my computer.
Then, Julianna sits down, turns her head, looks out the Family Room window, and says in the most possibly, chilling horror-voice way possible:
“Daddy… There’s someone in the backyard.”
Hairs stand on end.
Multiple adrenaline boosts.
Me: Honey? What?
Julianna: A guy is looking at me.
Me: What?! No. What? We have a fence! A gate! Really?
I run to the window, and sure as hell. There’s a guy there. In the backyard. Standing there. Eye contact.
Adrenaline. Fucking boosting. Boosting.
He’s a police officer. In my backyard. Acknowledging me. Pointing to his badge. Hand on holster. Letting me know he’s on Patrol.
He motions me to come out. Hand on holster. Yes, I see that. In my yard.
Since he is in the backyard, I opt to go out the front door and wrap around.
On my trek, I check my mental filing cabinet for Unconstitutional Police Intrusions. “Exigent Circumstances” allow the police to ignore search warrants in an emergency. I must be “exigent.” I’m guessing: Serial Killer.
Me (approaching two officers) inside my gate: Please, tell me what is going on?
Officer (male): We’re in pursuit of a male suspect, jumping fences between yards. Have you seen anything?
Me: No, but the dogs have been barking like Hell for the last few minutes.
Officer: Ok, sir, may we check your yard? (For the axe murderer.)
Me: Oh, God, yes.
I race back in through the front door to make sure the girls are Ok, Scared little girls… Just as the police helicopters basically land on my roof with their Night Sun technology.
Then, I realize….
I open the sliding door to the patio and approach the Officer (female) with my hands up. I try to tell her to check the garage.
She can’t hear me because the chopper is giving us a haircut.
I take a few steps closer, knowing her hand is on her holster. She motions for me to back off. Her hand is on her goddamn holster!
Me (yelling): The back garage door is unlocked!
Officer (female): Ok!! Thank you!
LAPD, always, so polite.
I high-tail it back to the patio, then inside to relative safety. The girls are, of course, freaking out.
Screams of “I’m Scared…” “Daddy!!!”
I play it cool with the girls. Dial it back. Rico Suave. Billy D. Williams.
Me: I’m sure it’s nothing. The police are here. They’ve got their flashlights. Did you see the helicopter? I’m sure there’s a SWAT team around the corner. We are the safest people in the world. Yeah,… It’s all cool…
They check out the garage. They look through the Aloe bush. They check behind the pool filter.
Officer (male) says something into his microphone.
The helicopter flies away, the officers depart (kindly closing the gate), and life returns to what the fuck just happened?
And, within 30 seconds, DDFT’s resident Mommy pulls into the driveway. Isabella can’t wait to tell her what happened.
But, the next door neighbor had already intervened.
Mommy: Jessica says there was a guy who jumped on the roof!
Isabella: The Thud!
Julianna: Who could jump on the roof?
Me: There were police searching in the backyard. A Helicopter almost landed in the pool.
Mommy: Where did he go? Over the fence?
Me: We don’t know. But, the helicopter was so low it nearly took out the chimney. There is no bad guy here.
Mommy: And how do we sleep tonight?
Me: Safely. But, with one eye open.
Darren Otero ©®