The Blue and Red Lights were flashing in the neighbor’s driveway . . .
They were thinking that this was a real waste of time, and they were probably right. It was just an open door, after all. But why would the upstairs balcony door be open with the neighbors out of town?
One of the kids noticed the open door as we were coming back from dinner in Wonderful Robins. We parked the car, walked next door and checked out the situation. Downstairs doors were locked. Everything looked good through the windows.
The balcony is easily 10 feet off the ground. It wasn’t likely that even the most enterprising burglar could climb up there, ransack the house, and leave with all of the neighbor’s valuables. Still, I didn’t want to be the one to find out. And I wasn’t really very thrilled with the idea of climbing up a ladder to check the situation out in someone else’s house. Not my job. I called the cops.
We live in the small town of Perry, a few miles south of Macon, GA. Everybody knows everybody here (and their business) and the attitude of Perry’s finest usually reflects the friendliness of the community. That was only partially true this evening.
I was only a little surprised when the cruiser doors opened. All I could see as I approached the car were two heads in the front seat. The driver’s door opened and an attractive, smiling policewoman emerged. We walked toward the front of the house and I explained why I had called and pointed at the open door ten feet above. She nodded and we discussed the options. I offered to get a ladder and she nodded again.
I hadn’t heard a thing from the partner and I didn’t see her at all until I turned to head back to my house. At first I thought she was a bear, but then remembered that bears don’t live in Perry, GA. She was four feet away from me and I couldn’t tell you how she got there. I said something cordial, acknowledging her presence, and she responded with a noncommital grunt.
The ladder was propped up on the balcony with the help of the friendly police lady. We tested the stability and she climbed carefully up to the balcony. There was a rumbling sound behind me and I was barely able to step aside as the partner vaulted up the ladder, over the railing and into the open doorway. It was a thing to witness. The image evoked was definitely bearlike: muscular, strong, fast and a little menacing. She slammed the door after going inside.
Flashlight beams flashed through the curtains and venetian blinds as the partners explored the house. I waited for them outside, naturally curious about what they were seeing. When they emerged, I asked the communicative policewoman if everything was OK.
“Have you been in the house?” she responded. “Would you know if anything was out of place?”
I know the neighbors, but not well. My father-in-law visits with them regularly, but I’ve never been inside. “No.” I responded, as it occurred to me that something could be very wrong inside. I could sense the bear’s presence nearby.
She asked the question again. I repeated my answer. I told her that I had looked through the windows downstairs and checked the doors, but couldn’t see anything that looked amiss. I asked again if everything was alright. She loosened up a bit, stating that nothing appeared to be disturbed, then asked for my identification and how to get in touch. I was beginning to feel like I was part of a scene from Law and Order, and wondering if the partners thought that I was a bad guy.
The friendly police lady left me with a case number and her name. I didn’t get the partner’s name. Perhaps it was Ursula. The bear had vanished as silently as she had appeared. I saw her seated in the police cruiser as I carried the ladder back toward our house.
It was an odd encounter, a little disconcerting. There was certainly nothing unprofessional about the behavior of the two policewomen. Even the bear, as bizarre as her actions and demeanor seemed to me, did nothing that could be interpreted as out of bounds. Somehow, though, in an almost undefineable way, my worldview had been changed.