I was awake writing a piece on my phone, still in bed, when I heard it- the soft click that I knew to be the gate leading to the back yard just under the bedroom window. Sometimes a feral cat or a nocturnal critter of some kind will go through the slats of the fence and cause the gate to make a noise, but this seemed different. I looked at the clock by my side of the bed…4:30am. I looked to the foot of the bed and saw Coops and Sophie on alert. When Cooper started to bark and then jumped off of the bed, I knew that I wasn’t hearing things. Something or somebody was on our property. At 4:30 in the morning, I knew it wasn’t a neighbor trying to borrow a cup of sugar.
Honey, are you awake? I just heard the gate.
Dan was already getting up, the dogs in hot pursuit, ready to assist him. While it sounds crazy, I am usually the one to spring out of bed to check on any strange things. Unlike Dan, I sleep very lightly and am instantly awake and lucid at times like this. When my mom called in the middle of the night a few years ago to say that the house alarm was going off, I shot out of bed and to my car like I was being chased by the Devil, not waiting for Dan, still in my jammies and slippers. I faced down a very drunk intruder until he finally ran away. When it comes to protecting my loved ones, I don’t think, I act- right or wrong.
Dan told me to stay in bed, that he would take the dogs and check things out. I decided to get up, but took my time, still thinking it had to be a possum or raccoon. That is, until I heard the door announcer chime followed by the dogs going into full on protect mode. Then…a woman’s voice.
It’s okay! It’s okay! I’m just laying down!
I heard Dan’s surprisingly calm voice in answer,
It’s not okay- you can’t sleep here! You need to go. Now.
He called the dogs back, with Coops- as to be expected- the serious protector, standing the intruder down. Sophie the love bug was there for back-up primarily (and to lick anyone if necessary).
I quickly went outside to find Dan talking with a rail-thin young woman dressed totally in black, her hair visibly pink in the soft glow of the deck lights. She reminded me of the female character in the movie Suicide Squad…which, for the record, I only saw the previews of at the theater. Dan continued to gently talk to the woman, as she slowly- and unsteadily- walked toward me on her way to leave. It was surreal- this woman walked up about sixty stairs and through three closed gates to come take a nap on the bench seating area of one of our decks…all while hearing what I consider to be viscious sounding dogs barking like crazy inside the house…at 4:30am. Obviously she was either drunk, high, or a few french fries short of a Happy Meal.
She placed her hands on her head as if she was being arrested, and began to slowly walk down the deck stairs as she made her way down to the street. I followed her, and Cooper broke away from Dan to help escort her as well. I was very proud of Coop- we have always known that she was a great watch dog, but this was the first time that her skills have been tested in a situation such as this. She was completely appropriate, never touching the woman, but there was no doubt that she was ready to act if the woman moved to do us any harm. Good girl, Coops! We watched as she made her way down the long stretch of steps that led to the street. Once there, she weaved her way down the street in front of our home, her hands still on her head. We shook our heads…what just happened? We love our wonderfully wacky Southside neighborhood and have seen our share of craziness. However, in the fourteen years that we’ve lived here, nothing quite like this has ever happened. Dan called the Southside Precinct to let them know about the incident and was told a car was being sent to search the neighborhood.
When morning came, we posted a note on our neighborhood website, letting people know what had happened. We received a reply from a neighbor down the street, saying that he was out with his dog and saw the woman come home to her apartment just before 5am, singing and dancing. It appears she has lived about a block away for a few years now. Dan decided that it was our tree lights that attracted her to come up from the street in the first place. There is a short in the lights, and sometimes they blink and change color. From there, she must have seen the lights up on the decks and decided to check it out.
Dan dubbed her the ‘Midnight Marauder’, even though she came a few hours past midnight. We both wish that we had been more awake, more prepared, because we would have kept her with us while we called the police in the hopes that she could have gotten some help if she needed it. We just went into ‘protect our home’ mode, with our mission being to get her to leave. I do hope that she is okay. I really hate to think of a young woman roaming the neighborhood in that mental state alone at all hours of the night. We are deeply grateful that we found a very tame young woman, and not some drugged out person with a weapon or any intent to hurt us, our animals, or our home.
We wish our Midnight Marauder well. I’m really glad that our home is so welcoming, but I’m hoping if she chooses to visit again, that she at least waits until 6am when the coffee machine comes on.