Friday, January 20, 2006

Gunshots AGAIN

I guess I slept a little on Tuesday night, in spite of the bird or whatever it was, setting off the alarm sensors by the pool. As I said, we’re all calming down now. But last night, Wednesday night. Yet another story. My God, when will it end? (Actually, let’s hope it DOESN’T end, this stream of stories, because if I stop writing and go quiet, that means.... oh oh. Perhaps I must change my name to Scheherazade. Keep spinning those tales, girl, and you can live on through another night, and see another morning.)

I cooked a preposterously bad dinner last night. The fish I’d bought a week ago Sunday, before the attack, I’d thrown into the freezer on the Tuesday right after, knowing I would hardly be able to eat for the next couple of days. But when I finally defrosted it last night, it had gone bad anyway. Rotten, dreadful. Symbolic, in fact. And lets not even get into the fact that I’m a Pisces. Eish. Dead fishies. Oh oh, a dire train of thought. Let’s don’t go there.

Dinner ended up being salad, corn on the cob, and whatever weird stuff I could find in the fridge. Not my best effort. I retired early, exhausted from tennis, errands, what have you. I seem to be awfully tired lately.

At 1:30 am, the alarm was going off again! AGAIN! I stumbled out of the bedroom and toward it but Mr. D was already there.

“It says, ‘AC loss’. It’s a power failure.”

God. I looked out, and so no lights on, anywhere. Not on our property, nor on what little we could see of the neighbors’ properties. Nothing. Only the brilliant clear white light of an almost full moon, shining everywhere. Thank goodness for natural lighting.

Dogs barking, barking, everywhere. All around.

Picked up the phone to call ADT security. Dead. No dial tone. Ah, great.

I looked out the various windows, fully expecting to see another team of three thugs with guns stealthily sneaking over the walls in the moonlight.

ADT texted Mr. D on his mobile. “Power failure at FOU010.” Guess that’s us.

We stood there, in the dark, for quite a long while. Finally, I said, “I’m going to try resetting the alarm, see if it takes without tripping again.”

I set the alarm. It must have some kind of battery back-up, because it “took”, no problem.
“Huis armed, stay.”

Mr D said, “Well, since the alarm’s working, I guess I’ll go in and try to get some sleep.”

“All right,” I replied, and wandered back to the living room with my two cell phones, to keep watch. Like I was going to be able to DO anything.

A few minutes later, I got a text. “Dearest, where’s the baton and the pepper spray you bought yesterday? Don’t you think it might be useful to have them out and available?”

I wandered back into the bedroom. It was almost 2:30 am now.

“Hey, it’s me. Look, here’s the baton.” I demonstrated how to work it. “But I haven’t read the instructions for the pepper spray yet, so I don’t know.”

“OK.....” Mr D sounded half asleep already. “I’ll take the baton. That’s good, thanks.”

And then, two gunshots rang out. ........KA-BLAMMMM....! ........... .........

“Did you HEAR that? Did you hear it?” I asked Mr D.

“Hear what? I can hear those dogs barking....”

“Oh for the love of Pete! Gunshots! I just heard two gunshots!”

“You what? I didn’t hear anything.”

Oh my poor dear man. We’re taking you to an audiologist as soon as possible.

“Gunshots, gunshots, gunshots!” I hissed.

“All I heard was those dogs barking. ” he whispered.

“Well, of course they’re barking now. They’re barking because they, like me, just heard two big gunshots. Not like handguns, but more like.... “

Gosh, I don’t know. Rifle? Shotgun? AK-47? Maybe instead of listening to Afrikaans phonics CDs, I should be listening to “Gun Shot Sounds 101”. Kind of like bird call tapes, but deadlier. “Now,” intones a posh British voice, “try to identify and distinguish these different reports: AK-47. Thirty aught-six. 44 Magnum. Over ‘n’ under shotgun. Keep repeating this portion of the tape until your identifications are quick and confident.”

I left Mr D there in bed, and he was snoring soon enough. Me, I went back to the family room, where I could look out the window overlooking the lawn. I had my two cell phones, both on “silent”, a torch/flashlight, the directed stream pepper spray, and the baton, extended and ready. I sat there all night, until the sun started just barely lighting up the sky in the east, and the birds started calling. Until about 4:45 am, maybe. I heard cars roaring by every so often. A couple of times the cars stopped, and doors slammed. Once I saw a flashlight beam playing over the trees just outside our walls. Good guys or bad guys? No way to tell.

Do you know how long a night is, when you’re awake for the better part of it, scared witless?

It’s really really really long. Really long. LONG.

And you know, they compare this to a war zone, but this is nothing, NOTHING, compared to what soldiers are experiencing in Iraq right now. Or in any war, for that matter.They’re terrified every single moment. How do you shake that off when you finally get to come home? I have no earthly idea. None.

Already, after four and a half months here, where almost NOTHING has happened to me, in the grand scheme of things. Well, shite man, I can’t imagine. I’m nervous and jumping out of my skin at every noise, and all that happened to me was I got held up, robbed, and locked in a bathroom for a half hour. Just think if it had been worse.

My hair’s going white.

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