2:37 a.m. I awaken to the hum of a lone engine. Car doors slam. Multiple voices break the silence.
Downstairs the dog wakes and goes ballistic, barking her head off. My husband’s in Chicago on business, making me the designated adult. The most interesting things happen when he’s not here.
Springing from the warm cocoon of my bed, I whisper-yell to shush the dog. She keeps barking as the voices keep talking. I peek out the window.
A strange, non-descript car is parked on the side street. No people in sight.
Leaving the lights off and my child asleep, I run down the stairs sans glasses, socks or robe. I strain to peer out the first floor windows into blackness.
Where are they? Front yard? Backyard? Alley? Breaking into my car? Approaching my house?
I dial the non-emergency number. A familiar voice answers.
My former neighbor and dear friend is as a dispatcher and just so happens to be on midnights. She stays on the line as two police cars rush to the scene.
Their giant spotlights shine across the fronts of houses, making eerie shadows on the snow. In moments, the officers march four ominous figures back to the car on the side street.
Burglars? Drug dealers? Terrorists?
Then I see one of the guys is carrying something large, flat and plastic. It’s a sled.
We’ve had a few car break-ins recently in the neighborhood, but not this time. On this pitch black morning, so early most of us consider it the middle of the night, four guys decided it would be fun to go sledding in the park across the street from my house.
I thank my friend. Praise the dog for her bravery. Trudge back upstairs and to bed. A cacophony of thoughts join me.
I remember skipping down the residential section of Cameron Avenue in Chapel Hill late one night, arm in arm with my best friends, singing I Will Survive at the top of our lungs on our way to a mixer. Some good police officer should have marched us back to the sorority house to study.
I imagine how frightened families must feel in war zones and places of unrest or danger. Listening to voices outside, wondering if at any moment they might burst in.
I think about how it is no coincidence my friend was working at the station that night. How God never sleeps. How youth is wasted on the young.
How the Beverly Hills Cop theme The Heat is On playing in my head is a terrific song and Axel F is genius. Gradually, gratefully, eventually, I go back to sleep in peace.
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8 NIV
Hats off to Bob Marley, Gloria Gaynor, Eddie Murphy, Glen Frey and Harold Faltermeyer for the cultural references. Thanks for the memories, guys.
To listen to Harold Faltermeyer’s Axel F on YouTube, click here.
This post was first published on February 25, 2011, here.