By the time I stepped outside, the leaves were on fire. The ruckus was enough to raise the roof of my house. The branches were screaming as if in pain. The tree trunk was groaning like the thunder that came roaring out of the clouds. Lightning flashed across the sky from cloud to cloud, and then another would strike the ground with the ferocity of the devil himself, spewing soil, and gravel in every direction. The wind whipped everything it hit with the exacerbating randomness of marbles in a blender. In a word, or a few words, it was one hell of a day outside.
I grabbed the few loose things in the yard and hurried back into the house.
Shelly and I then hunkered down in the basement, cuddled up on the couch with a rip-roaring fire in the fireplace. The electricity was off due to the somewhat inclement weather and that was okay with us. We rather enjoyed the time huddled together, cozy, and smooching like a couple of teenagers under the bleachers. She couldn't go home and I wouldn't have allowed her to do so, anyway. I was enjoying this moment we had together and my mind was racing with all the possibilities ahead of us.
Bang! Bang! Bang! Came from upstairs, apparently from the front door.
It repeated, even louder. We looked at each other; her eyes now very wide open.
"What is that?" she asked me in a whisper.
"Um, well, I'm not sure. Maybe the wind is blowing a tree branch or something against the door," I suggested.
Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! The sound continued, and it was in a regular beat, and didn't sound at all like a branch being blown by the wind.
"Sweetheart," said Shelly, "There's no tree branches close enough to the door to be banging against it. Maybe there's a person out there?"
"I think you're right, I should go up there and find out," I wasn't at all very thrilled by that idea, but I knew I would have to do just that.
"Hey," she said, "take that baseball bat with you, you know, just in case."
I grabbed the bat and climbed the stairs. The stairway in this old house was concrete and led up into the garage. Then I had to walk across the garage to the door leading into the dining room, from there across the dining room and the living room to the door with all the banging going on.
I reached the door without mishap, since it was quite dark, actually completely dark, and the flashlight function on my cellphone is not as good as a real flashlight, and it was also a little on the dim side because the battery was getting very close to dying. I had left the real flashlight with Shelly.
Standing in the entry near the door, there was again that loud banging, four times. A pause, and another four bangs. I looked through the little peephole in the door and there was nobody, nothing, in sight. Then the banging, again. I looked again, nobody there, what was it? I raised the bat over my head with one arm ready to swing it at anybody, or anything, that decided to charge into the house when I opened the door. I reached for the doorknob and turned it, gently, not that that made any difference considering the noise of the thunder, wind, and rain.
I pulled the door open, readied the bat, saw a small person, and stopped, frozen. The person at the door was a child, she was crying, soaking wet, shivering with cold and fear, no doubt, and she looked up at me with her arms wide open. Just then somebody's lawn chair went flying past the porch.
I set the bat down next to the door when suddenly two other people, two big men, came rushing up to the door, shoved it open so it smashed into the wall behind it, grabbed me and threw me out of the doorway, across the porch, and into the front yard. The three of them then entered my house and slammed the door closed.
I regained my footing quickly, thought of Shelly alone in the basement, and immediately ran through the muddy yard, the broken tree branches, and around the house to the back door that goes into the garage near the top of the stairs to the basement. The door was locked, of course. I didn't want to alert the strangers with the noise of breaking glass, so I pushed against the door as hard as I could while also being as quiet about it as possible. The wind was blasting me from behind, soaking me with a fierce piercing rain. After the third attempt, the door swung open. I looked into the garage, nobody was there, and the door to the dining room was still closed. I quietly closed the door behind me, pushed a partial bag of cement mix against it to keep it closed, and descended the stairs into the basement.
Shelly was completely covered by the blanket, I ran up to her, whispered to her, "Be quiet, don't make any noise, we have unwanted guests upstairs," I said as the thunder claps and the lightning were now pretty much at the exact same moment, and rattling everything, including the house itself.
"What? What happened? Why are you wet?"
"There was a little girl at the door, when I opened it two big men rushed me, threw me outside, and they are now in the house," I quietly explained to her.
I quickly searched throughout the basement for anything I could use as a weapon against the intruders. I found a crowbar, an aluminum softball bat, a couple baseballs, and a spray bottle with insecticide in it. I gave the bat and the crowbar to Shelly; I strapped the insecticide sprayer to my back and carried the baseballs.
I could hear the footsteps on the floor above our heads, and quietly explained to Shelly, "Here's the plan, we have to be quick and quiet, okay? We're going in through the dining room door. I expect those guys are now in the kitchen. Let's give them a minute or two to settle into the living room, then we'll quietly go into the dining room and surprise them. You cannot be afraid to use that bat, okay?"
There was a crashing sound that came from the back of the house and upstairs, it was a tree branch, a big one, had broke away from a tree and crashed on the roof.
I paused, waited for more crashing sounds, there were none, and pulled Shelly into my arms.
"Okay, darling. My god, I've never done anything like this before, I'm so scared," she was obviously nervous, her hands were even shaking a little.
"Same for me, baby, but we're defending my home, our home. And ourselves. So, whatever we do we do in self-defense. Just remember, don't hesitate when you have the chance to hit one of them. Now, there are two big men and the little girl they used as a distraction. Don't worry about her unless she attacks you," I continued, listening for footsteps above.
Shelly held the bat in one hand and the crowbar in the other, gave them both a little test swing, and said, "Okay, God help us, let's do this."
The footsteps crossed the dining room, paused, then continued into the living room. We could hear the voices though they were muffled by the floor, but we knew where they were - sitting on the couch.
I opened the door to the stairs, looked up the dark stairway, paused, and listened for any sounds from above. I whispered to Shelly, "It's very dark, so please be very careful, try to stay close to me." The thunder continued to blast the sky, threatening to tear it open.
Shelly shivered a little, "Okay," she whispered, and then we both paused. The dining room door opened. We held our breath and listened intently for any sound of approaching footsteps.
"What are you doing over there?" asked one of the voices, coming from the living room.
"Just looking out this door, I think it goes into the garage," the other voice responded.
"Do you see anything?"
"No, it's too dark."
"Fine, close it and forget it."
The door closed, the footsteps moved into the living room, and the two men continued talking. I didn't know where the little girl was. For all I knew she could have been sitting at the dining room table. She was too lightweight to make any noise when walking on the bare wood floor.
Shelly and I slowly climbed the stairs, carefully walked past the bag of cement mix, and stopped at the door. I got another idea, "Shelly," I whispered, "go stand over there, against the wall, and be ready. I'm going to stand right here. I'll make a little noise and get their attention."
"Okay, I suppose that's as good as any idea, considering..." she replied with a little bit of hesitancy.
"Just be ready, okay? Probably both will come, the first will come in, I'll spray his face with the bug spray, then you hit him hard in the stomach, when he is bent over hit him again on the back of his head. The second will come in when he hears the first scream from the bug spray, I'll spray him, and then you can smash him when he stumbles into the garage."
"Okay, let's do this," she raised her bat like she was standing at home plate waiting for a fastball. The rain was pelting the garage roof and with no ceiling in there the noise was almost deafening.
I picked up a metal bar that was on the floor near the door and tossed it down the stairs. It clanged and bounced down the stairs making one hell of a racket.
"What was that?" asked one of the voices.
"Sounded like it came from the garage," said the other, "I thought you said it was empty."
"No, I said it was too dark to see anything."
"Well, go take a look, and listen real good this time, somebody must be in there."
"Right." I heard his footsteps approaching the door. The door opened, I turned the bug sprayer hose to his face and sprayed the thing right into his eyes.
"Aayyh! Shit! Help!" he screamed, he stumbled into the garage, Shelly leaned forward and swung that baseball bat with all her strength, aiming for his stomach, and hit a home run. He bent over in retching pain, and she raised her bat up over her head and brought it down with the force of, well, all the force she had in her. The blow landed on his upper back. We heard the cracking of bones, probably his shoulder blades. Shelly cringed, backed away, and pressed herself against the wall. The other man came running to the doorway.
"What happened? Where are you?" he shouted.
"What's happening?" the little girl asked, obviously with fear in her voice.
"Stay there, kid!" The man stepped into the garage, I hosed him with the spray, he turned towards me and reached out, grabbed the spray hose and yanked it from my hands. He pulled it completely free from the tanks. I smashed him across his nose with one of the baseballs, breaking his nose, and he stumbled backwards against the workbench. He groaned with pain, I held the ball hard in my fist, and this time hit him dead center in his chest. He slumped down in a pile of writhing, groaning human on his way to unconsciousness. That took only a few seconds.
"Shelly! Shelly! Are you okay?" I yelled, not sure where she had disappeared to.
"Yes," she whimpered from across the garage, "yeah, I'm okay."
I walked over to her, grabbed her in my arms and held her like there was no tomorrow. She held me tightly and kissed my neck, she was breathing heavily from the excitement of what just transpired in our garage.
"Hey! Where is everyone?" came a small, timid voice from the doorway to the dining room.
Shelly and I walked over to the door, found the little girl, and Shelly took her hand and walked into the dining room with her. They sat at the table, Shelly holding the little girl.
I found some rope in a drawer in the workbench, and used that to tie the hands and feet of the two intruders. Then I tied them to one of the steel support posts at the top of the stairs. They were both unconscious, still.
I called the police on my cell phone and explained the situation to them and they sent over a couple cars. After an hour or so, they left with the two men cuffed and locked in the back seats of the cars. A social services person arrived within a minute or two. They took the little girl away to their offices and got her set up in a dormitory and we tried to get back to a normal, stormy night.
Finally, we fell into a not very restful sleep, until the sun came up and shone in through the window and woke us with its warmth. The storm had passed, the world outside was a mess of unbelievable proportions, and we were still alive and in each other's arms.
On the following Monday morning, we called the social services office about the little girl.
"Oh, she is fine. We found her parents. They had been separated by the storm when the mall was hit and the entrance and windows were smashed. Ally, the little girl, ran one way, and her parents, with their baby, ran in the other direction. They hadn't immediately noticed she wasn't with them. When they did see she wasn't with them they were separated by the nearly destroyed mall entrance. The winds were terrible and people were running everywhere. The little girl was swept up in the crowd and eventually those two men found her. They promised to take her home, but instead, used her as bait to break into homes. Your home was the third they had broken into."
"My god! Seriously? I hope she will be fine after such a traumatic experience," Shelly said after hearing the story.
I said, "The police just called and told me those two guys confessed to breaking into two other homes. They confessed to everything. Now they're sitting in jail, and I hope for a long time."
Shelly held me tight, kissed me, and said, "let's get married and start our own family."