jayellebee's Blog

June 27, 2013

Holed Up and Hunkered Down

Filed under: Musings — Joanne @ 11:10 am
Tags: , , ,

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My fear of heights is Mom’s fault.  The phobia took root while watching her wash windows.  I have a vivid mental image of my mother perched with one hip on the third story window sill and leaning out, as if she were Annie Oakley riding side-saddle and preparing to rope a steer.    As a wee small girl, I imagined my mommy splatting on the ground below.  The memory is enough to make my hands sweat all these sixty years later.

So, this morning I inhaled a courageous breath and, with great trepidation, convinced myself to wash the upstairs windows at Clearlake.  Ours is only a two story building, but I’m pretty sure that’s high enough for me to be pierced through-and-through by the wicked thorns of the gnarled pomegranate tree at ground level.  Resigned to my fate, I hauled the window washing gear up a flight of stairs.

A helicopter hovered over the neighboring hills, darting out-of-sight and back again as I removed the screens.  The letters CHP adorned the fuselage.  I carried the filthy metal and mesh rectangles down to the driveway and distracted myself from scrubbing off bird poop and bug guts by concocting stories about the nature of the nearby emergency.

Lost and/or injured hikers?  Not likely.  My friends and I slid down those same grassy hills as children. blog pix The preamble of a grass fire?   No smoke.  Bank robbers?  More like fast food thieves in this part of the world.  I pictured the headlines, “Ketchup trail leads posse to hamburger hi-jackers.”

I had no sooner climbed back upstairs when the landline downstairs interjected itself into my thoughts.  I ran for the phone, hustling as much as my creaky back and sock-clad feet would allow on oak steps.  Picking up after the fourth ring, I was greeted by that nebulous nothing associated with telemarketers’ cold calls.  The hand piece approached the cradle when I heard, “This is a public safety announcement from the Clearlake police department.”

Great.  Police Athletic League donation?  Widows and Orphans fund?

“Residents of the Clearlake Park area are advised to stay inside and keep their doors locked.”

Say what?  The algae wasn’t that bad.  I checked the clock.  Eleven-thirty.

“Three armed and presumed dangerous fugitives are believed to be in your area.  The adult males, armed with handguns, are wearing dark clothing and hoodies….”

I yelled for Ken to come inside, my voice tinged with urgency.  He listened to my retelling of the alert, glanced at the droning copter and locked the lakeside sliding glass door.  Bad guys with guns would be stopped by dual pane windows, right?

Ken called his brother to share the excitement.  “We’re hunkered down at the lake!”

Lunch filled a bit of the what-should-we-do void and I chewed my tuna sandwich with one eye on the hills, expecting suspicious characters to crest the ridge at any moment.  My fingers were primed to hit 9-1-1.  Ken pushed away from the table, moved to the recliner and his eyelids drooped.  Siesta time.  Our ferocious guard dog’s twitching feet betrayed her REM dream state.  The lack of tension was palpable.

By two o’clock Ken was awake, rested and bored silly.  blog pix 156The helicopter had flown the coop and my always-cautious husband announced, as far as he was concerned, the lock-down had been lifted.  He returned to his interrupted chores on the pier.

“But we haven’t received the ‘all clear’ message the police department promised,” I said.

Still no news from the local version of Mayberry by 3:00.  A call to the sheriff’s non-emergency number at 4:30 confirmed the outlaws were still out there.  We spent an hour lounging on the deck, within earshot of the phone.  The passage of time made the situation feel less threatening.

I scanned the hills for fleeing suspicious adult males, but soaring turkey vultures were as close as I came to spying evil doers.  Still, each barking dog confirmed the possibility of danger.  The ice maker’s whirring and clunking machinations in an otherwise quiet house stole my breath away.  Heaven help me if a confused driver dressed in black were to find his way to the end of the cul-de-sac where our driveway begins.  I peeked out the street-side bedroom window lowered the shade.

It’s 5:30 and Shadow is ready for her walk.  Somehow, venturing out to Lakeshore Drive feels like a bad idea.  The girl will have to wait.  blog pix 155Besides, the longer I can feign fear, the longer I can put off washing those scary upstairs windows.

***UPDATE:  A day has passed.  Neighbors with internet access tell us that, as of 7:30 last night, four “alleged” criminals had been apprehended and a fifth was holed up in a house less than a mile from us.  A SWAT team was in place ready to storm the hide out as soon as a search warrant arrived.  The “all clear” call never came, but even I am ready to assume all’s well.  If you need me, I’ll be  upstairs washing the windows.

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