This is a true story. It happened in 1963.
You would have thought there was a wolf at the door by the way mom’s beagle was barking in the back of the house. It was the year before I was born. Mom turned the corner to the back room and was shocked to see a man standing just inside the back door. He had placed the door mat to keep the door from alerting the family of his presence. He never counted on a little guard dog watching out for the family. She got wind of him and started barking. It was a standoff; a determined little beagle versus a strange man with uncertain intent.
Mom told me the story once. She described his eyes, “there was no soul in there.” Her fear must have been very intense. He silently stared through her. He was a predator, and she his prey. He had not planned on a pesky little dog sounding the alert and spoiling his surprise, and his harvest.
Mom sternly said, “get out!” He didn’t move a muscle. He was deciding what he was going to do. He was waiting for the moment to reveal his next move. But mom was shrewder than some little sheep. She quickly gave him two options. She turned and yelled to my father, “Tom! Get the gun! There is man in the house!” For a moment he continued to stand there.
As the years have gone by i’ve thought a lot about this situation. And with the writing of this book I now see this moment differently. I see what mom did. She tossed a coin into the air offering him one of two decisions. It was his call. There she stood waiting for his decision as the coin slowly burned within his predatory mind:
- Heads: she’s bluffing.
- Tails: she’s not bluffing and I am seconds from eating some lead.
To her relief he chose tails and didn’t wait for my father to come around the corner with his gun. He didn’t let the coin hit the floor and let fate choose the outcome for him. His choice was to leave and live another day. He slowly turned and walked out. Mom immediately went and locked the door.
A few days later the newspaper told a tale of a double murder; an elderly couple found dead in their home. The door mat was lodged in the screen door. This human wolf intended to kill my mother it would seem, but her little guard dog and her own quick thinking turned back a wolf inside the door. My mother understood the land of sheep and wolves. As much as any child hates to imagine it, I realized my mother has seen human wolves before.
And to the question about my dad being home? No. He was not home. My 5’ 4” mom stared into the eyes of a killer and he blinked. Mom bluffed him by being so congruent with her words and her actions that he believed her. In saving her life she saved mine. I was born the following year.
This is a dramatic and real story of an experience in my Mom’s life. I do not live in dread of a situation like this, but I live my life aware of my surroundings and deal with reality as my Mom and Dad have taught me.
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