His knife slipped easily through the space between door and door jamb, then with one swift motion he lifted the hooked latch out of the eye on the screen door and stealthily entered my apartment.
Sitting cross-legged in the middle of my bed reading the newspaper with my back to the door, I never heard a sound...until I felt the cold sharp edge of the knife blade as it came to rest at the base of my throat, along with a masculine voice behind me saying, "Give me your gun!"
Just two feet away concealed under a magazine on my nightstand lay a loaded revolver; but I hadn't bargained for a knife at my throat when I placed it there for protection, and reaching for it now under these circumstances would be foolhardy. I was neither that courageous nor that stupid.
You'll never believe the ridiculous thoughts that race through ones mind during those first few seconds under such fearful constraint. For instance, I remember cousin Ron's insistence that I buy a weapon when I moved to Detroit ten years ago. "Women living alone in a Big City need it for protection." he'd said. I wondered what Ron would say if he could see how worthless his idea of protection was to me now...absolutely useless.
I also became vividly aware that I was scantily clad in nothing but Fredericks of Hollywood's niftiest sleepwear, so even under extreme duress, modesty trumped fear as I hastily tried to cover my body with my newspaper. I told you the mind does some ridiculous things during traumatic times.
"Where's your gun?", the voice said again.
"I don't have one", my voice cracked as I lied.
Pressing the knife harder against my throat, he repeated his demand. Envisioning large imaginary droplets of blood cascading down my neck, fear of death suddenly pushed stubborn bravery aside and I reluctantly pointed to the (dig this!) Life Magazine on the nightstand.
The knife was immediately discarded and replaced by my fully loaded Smith & Wesson revolver to the back of my head. "Lie face down on the floor and don't move," he commanded.
For the next few minutes my face was buried in the deep shag carpet listening to the intruder rifle through my purse, closets, and dresser drawers while I prayed non-stop. Meanwhile he was walking by, around and over me carrying TV, radio, stereo, camera and anything he could carry to the back door.
Finally the nightmare was over. He ordered me to remain where I was for five minutes - "and remember I'll be watching you" were his parting words. I heard the back door close, the sound of a car pulling away and then silence.
"Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Jesus! I wept. The intruder had cleaned me out of house and home, but I was so grateful to be alive and unharmed, I couldn't stop praising God. I don't know how long I laid there before getting up and calling the police.
Later, after the Police Officer finished filling out his report, he shook his head at the same time he shook my hand; "You're a very, very lucky young lady that your thief was a hard line junkie instead of a perverted killer or rapist like Theodore "Ted" Bundy. It's tough losing all your hard earned possessions to some pawn shop junkie so he can feed his habit and get a "fix"; but you CAN always replace material things...but NEVER your life. Remember that."
I thanked the Officer, and after I closed the door I looked around at all the empty spaces and fell to my knees once more...and wept. Not tears of sorrow, but grateful to be alive.
Two weeks later I packed my belongings, collected my final paycheck, and left the Big City for good.
PS: By the way, it's been thirty five years since that fearful episode - and I've yet to replace my Smith & Wesson. I now put my full trust in my Heavenly Father's promises: Be not afraid (or fearful), for "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Matt:28:20
God's never out of my reach...He's just a whisper away.
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