In the year 2000 (you can sing that a la Conan if you want, I did) I was living with my sister. That year we moved six times. 6. SIX TIMES, in one year. We were in one place for about 6 months while my dog, Kaiko had to stay with other people. She was already an anxious dog so this was not good for her. As soon as we could, we were going to find a place where we could have both dogs. Emily found this great remodeled apartment in Covington, Kentucky. It was beautiful and even came equipped with a washer and dryer. The day we moved in I brought my dog home. One of the great things about this place was that it had central air, we hadn't had that since we left home! It stopped working on this day, the first Saturday of July. So we opened all the windows.
That night I stayed up late to unpack. I felt so good about this house. The beautiful tile in the kitchen, the stacked washer and dryer that came with it. No more laundromats! I went to bed at 3am, around 4 I heard some rustling out in the laundry room. I was certain Kaiko was out there getting into things so I stumbled out of bed to go find her. As I got to the laundry room a man stood up. He had just come in through the high window and landed on some plastic garbage bags. It took me a second to register that I didn't know him and then I yelled. "GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!" I thought he would leave. I mean, he got caught, wouldn't he run away? He didn't and before I knew it he had ahold of me. I started fighting and he put a really old, probably very dull steak knife against my arm. So I relaxed, I told him, "it's cool, it's cool" He said, "get your purse" but he wouldn't let go of me. He had a stench so strong, his breath on my neck, that his smell is more present with me today than his face. I know now that it's the smell of an addict. Old smoke, body odor, the stringent smell of alcohol seeping from his pores... desperation. I kept saying, "I'll go get it, it's back there" but he wasn't letting me go. Then he started backing us up into the laundry room. I was suddenly aware that I was only wearing a t-shirt and underwear and I started fighting against him again. Then something changed. He let go and he backed up, just a step. He said, "get your dog"
Sure enough, Kaiko had finally wandered out of the room where she'd been asleep the whole time. She was a big dog, about 75#. Rottweiler, lab and chow as far as I could tell. The hair on her neck and back was standing up and there was a low growl coming from deep in her throat. I saw my opportunity and took it. I slammed the laundry door on the intruder and ran. To my room. Where there was no phone. I'm proud of everything I did this night except this part. My cell phone wasn't working and instead of running to Emily's room, I ran to mine. Then, instead of letting Kaiko come in with me (she ran too) I closed the door on her. I felt safer with her guarding my door from that side but later, when I see evidence of her fear, I am ashamed.
On my way to the bedroom I yelled to Emily, "CALL 911! THERE'S A MAN IN THE HOUSE WITH A KNIFE!" Panic and grammar don't mix. She wasn't really awake so she poked her head out of her bedroom door and said, "Huh?" I stuck my head out and yelled it again. Then I sat in my room. Listening. I heard someone running; slapping feet across the parking lot outside my window. Within seconds I also heard Kaiko lay down against my door, relaxed. Still, I couldn't be sure. I was terrified that he had gone to Emily's room but I was too scared to look. I finally got up my courage and ran to her room.
She was sitting on her bed talking to the 911 dispatcher. When she called she got the wrong city and had to be transferred. Minutes later someone was banging on her bedroom door. We screamed, "the police are on their way!" It was the police. They had entered the open front door and were searching through the house. An officer checked the bedroom and told us to stay put while they looked around. Once they determined that he had gone, we all moved out to the kitchen. The kitchen suddenly felt very small and the police officers all seemed very large and very warm. Like grizzly bears walking around in polyester. I heard an officer on his radio, "theeee suspect may have manure around the bottom of his pants." Kaiko had been so frightened that she had shit all over the kitchen.
We didn't notice anything missing but another officer came in with a tube of chapstick he had found on the ground outside. As soon as I saw it I looked over to where my workbag had been and it was gone. It had been on a shelf right by my room which meant the man had run across the kitchen for it, this is probably what scared Kaiko. He had then run through the living room and out the front door.
I told the police that he had run through the parking lot but they insisted that he had probably gone back the other way, toward the projects. They said our cute little apartment was right between the projects and the main street for drugs and prostitution. With a parking lot that was the obvious cut-through. It was a crime of opportunity with our windows standing open.
The police brought me outside to look at a man who was sitting in the back of a squad car. They had seen him "acting suspicious" earlier in the night and they really wanted him to be The Guy. I glanced at him through the flashing lights and I nodded, "yes, that's him" I went back inside with an officer who asked how certain I was. I said, "not at all" He said I had to be sure. He wanted me to look again and I was so afraid to go back out and see that man and be seen by him, I almost said it was him just so I wouldn't have to go. That poor guy had not been anywhere near me that night. He looked up at me through the smudged window of the cruiser and he was crying. He was crying for his mama. He was bigger than the man who attacked me and he had a grill that outshone the flashing lights. I knew for sure this was not The Guy.
As the police were getting ready to leave, one officer asked us how long we had been living there. When we told him we had moved in that very day he said, "You have four days to back out of your lease without repercussions. Pack your shit and GET OUT."
Once the police were gone we sat outside on the front step, both of us afraid to go back inside. Jt was out of town. Emily couldn't reach her boyfriend so she called his crackhead cousin who came right over. Tony was great, he was lots of energy and a hefty dose of "nothing can happen to you while I'm here" Eventually we went to Jt's house because everyone there was out of town.
We called the apartment manager and they were shocked. SHOCKED! that this had happened. *insert giant eye roll* They said they would let us out of our lease but we needed to get our things out immediately. It was a matter of four days before we found a place to store our things. The rental agency kept our entire deposit as a "storage fee" for those four days. We moved our things into a house owned by someone Emily worked with. The house was disgusting. I'm not even kidding, it was BAD. Jt was back in town and he and I had bought all kinds of plug-ins and candles and roach traps but we walked in that first night and the roaches scurried and the smell was so bad that I sat down and cried. He said we could come back to their place until we found something. Emily got us into the dorms at my alma mater for a very low fee. So we gathered our trashbags full of clothes and we lived there for a couple of weeks while our other belongings sat at the casa de cucarachas absorbing the rott-pee that soaked the carpets. Know what's scary? Living in an empty dormitory when you've just been traumatized. It feels very much like a horror movie waiting to happen.
The intruder had only taken my work bag so I thought the joke was on him. The bag was mostly filled with teddy grahams from our field trip to a Red's game. But my checkbook was in there. The bank advised me to close the account and we could deal with any outstanding checks. I guess the joke was on me.
We found a great house and were all settled in by the first of August. The first week I spent my nights sitting up at the kitchen table where I had a view of both the front and back doors. I slowly moved into my room. I would wake up sitting on the floor having spent the night looking through a crack in the door I kept barred with a dresser. I took baby steps and eventually was able to relax in the new place. But it wasn't over.
In September I was accepted for a job as a home health aid. I had to go downtown for a police check. The police said I had an outstanding warrant for an unpaid check. They said all I needed to do was find a police officer ad ask for a recite. He would write a ticket and I could go to court to take care of everything.
On my way home from school a day or two later I stopped at Kroger to pick up a few things. On my way out I popped into the police sub-station to ask for that recite. The officer there was a younger black woman and she was very nice. She called someone who explained to her how to write the recite. We chatted a little while I waited. When she was done she called her sergeant to clear everything. When the conversation ended, she hung up the phone slowly, an almost guilty look on her face. "My sergeant says you have to be processed" I have no idea what this means. "You have to be arrested"
To Be Continued...