My brother and sister-in-law were at my house in no time. They were shaken but, as always, steady.
Shortly after they arrived, Maurine’s phone rang. I could hear my niece’s excited voice. “Hold on,” said my sister-in-law. “Let me get something to write with.” She picked up the notepad and pen I keep on the coffee table and handed them to my brother. “Write this down, Hal: a white, late-model Toyota SUV – maybe a Highlander…very clean, black brush guard and tinted windows. What time did he come by here? About 9:45 or 10? Okay, got it. Thanks. I’ll call you later. That was Amanda. Zak saw this car in your driveway when he drove by on his way to work.”
“That means they did not see me leave,”I said. The fear inside of me was too much. I was nauseous. “Remember, I called you, Hal, a little after 9:30, and I was already past the third creek on 219. Who on earth would break in this house in the middle of the day?” It would seem that locals would know what a busy intersection this is.
Nothing made sense and everything seemed wrong.
Within minutes, the deputies and investigators from the Sheriff’s Department arrived. They came inside and did their best to console me but got right to work. My brother immediately gave them the info about the vehicle. They made quick notes and asked me about the time line. Data was quickly entered into the system; they went to work dusting for fingerprints and making a list of what was stolen. As I related what was missing, my throat closed up and my stomach ached. This was done by someone with no regard for anything. The fact that they hit a house where mine is located said volumes about them. They knew no barriers and felt no fear.
Of course, there were no prints left anywhere. The deputies did a good, thorough job and left trying to reassure to me: “We’re going to find that car; and don’t you worry. They won’t be back. They don’t want to be seen anywhere around this house.”
My brother said he would fix the door after lunch. I walked into the kitchen and there was my sister-in-law, sweeping up the glass. “Call me if you need me,” she said, as she and my brother left.
It all seemed so surreal.
I had no time to think about things. I had an article critique to finish and a statistics program to decipher. I went back to my office and tried to concentrate. It was difficult at best.
Class was short but the ensuing night was long. My little dog reacted to every noise and was as nervous as I was. He kept looking outside and making low disconcerting noises. I was in a wide-awake nightmare.
The next morning I tried to move forward. The insurance company had been notified and I had talked to my grown children. There was really nothing else to be done. One of my neighbors called to give his support and ask me the details. Everyone in the community was concerned. Things like this just don’t happen around here.
The phone beeped; I had an incoming call. I looked down and saw the number to the sheriff’s department. “Hey…I gotta go. The sheriff is calling.” I had called the investigator late in the afternoon the day before to give him some information he wanted. “Hello,” I answered.
“So how are you doing this morning?” the investigator asked.
“I’m okay,” I said. “You know, making it okay.”
“Has anyone from our office spoken to you today?” he asked.
“No,” I answered. “Why?”
“Those boys that broke in your house?…they’re in jail in Tallahassee, Florida. But there’s more to it. They’re wanted in connection with a murder in Alabama.”
“Oh my Lord,” I gasped. “Wait a second – I’m shaking all over.” I couldn’t breathe…it was as though time had stopped, as had my heart.
“I know. It’s a lot to take in. Here, the sheriff wants to talk to you.”
The sheriff related the incredible story to me. The brothers were on the run in a stolen car. Federal marshals were looking for them in several states, and when the car showed up here and my nephew saw it, the net tightened. They had allegedly murdered someone Monday night in rural North Alabama and left another for dead. Talk about nauseous…It was right up there with morning sickness.
“And what is even more incredible is that they had pawn tickets and merchandise in their car,” said the sheriff. “It may take a while, but there is a good chance you’ll get your possessions back. But, of course, the real blessing here is that you were not at home. That would not have been a good thing. You just relax now. Those boys are in jail and they’re going to be in jail for a very long time. We’ll be in touch with you…you and your family have a good Thanksgiving.”
I called my brother and the rest of my family and friends. I was both delirious with joy, terrified, and above all, in awe over how fortunate I was.
I call it divine intervention, angels watching over me, a sign that everything will be okay…regardless. Those with a more pragmatic world view would say otherwise, but, hey – it didn’t happen to them, did it?