My Muzzy learned a lot of things from old Roma, like begging for treats and chasing cats, but she never really picked up on Roma's superior guard-dog skills. Even deaf and half blind, Roma knew whenever someone walked by the house day or night and made sure I heard about it. Muzzy, on the other hand, tends to only bark when a small, unarmed creature is skittering around the yard at night. I always said, "Great, you saved me from the possum, but what about the man with the knife?" Well, this morning Muzzy proved herself an able alarmist when a man, without a knife but still quite big and scary, did try to get into our house at 5:30 in the morning.
Muzzy had charged down the hall and barked in her deepest voice. I tried to ignore her, assuming the problem was a cat or a possum, until I heard the distinctive scraping-squeaking noise of my screen doors--both of them. I flipped on all the lights and when I pulled back the curtain on my carport door, there was a strange man in a dark t-shirt leaning into my door, telling me to let him in. The carport light was behind him, I only saw that he was enormous—he filled the entire doorframe—and muscular. The only thing between us, really, was a thin pane of window glass. I was so frightened that I could not actually make my lips form words--only choke out sounds--like in my worst nightmares. I sounded deranged, and by this time, the Muzz was hovering in the living room, utterly silent. No help at all! Finally, adrenalin helped me find my angry Dog Park voice, the one I use to scream at Crazy Guy. "Go away!" "I don't know you!" "I am calling the police." The guy's response? "Why?"
I did call 911, and the dispatcher was unimpressed by my plea for help. She asked me a series of questions that helped me realize that the guy was drunk. She promised to send someone and, before hanging up, told me to call back if the guy actually got into the house or, if he went away, to watch and see what direction he went. Are you kidding me? The guy started moving back and forth between my front and my carport doors, banging on each and rattling the knobs. "Why are you such a tree hugger? You shouldn't be a tree hugger. I need to talk to you!" he said, unfazed by my yelling. (I'm still hoarse.) Finally, after ten long minutes, the guy went away.
A cop showed up an hour later, after daylight. He did most of the talking. He told me that the law was a gray area here. At most, had the guy been apprehended, he might have been charged with public intoxication or a trespassing--both usually dismissed. What's more, he said, the guy probably had no bad intentions. He was just drunk and confused. It happens in a town with college students. Apparently, it is not against the law for great big dudes to scare the shit out of tiny, single, middle-aged women asleep in their beds. The cop also suggested a more reliable alarm system than my dog. The conversation was deeply unsatisfying. The officer did tell me, however, to call the police if the guy were still hanging around the neighborhood. Cut to 20 minutes later . . .
Muzzy and I were taking our morning walk, and lo', there was the Dude, the guy who terrorized me in my own home, snoring on his back in a neighbor's driveway. My impulse was to kick him or to leave a steaming bag of dog poo on his chest, but I took the high road. I decided to bust him properly. I called 311 this time, and I talked to two concerned dispatchers. Ultimately four cops arrived in two cars. Muzzy, again, stood mutely by my side as we watched the men in blue deal with the still-drunk Dude. "You have a good day, ma'am," said one of the cops to me as they scraped Dude up off the curb. I would try, and knowing that the Dude would have a pretty shitty day might help make that happen.
Lock your doors! Be careful out there! -z