Come Any Closer and I'll Beat the DUST Outta You!

Shortly after graduating from high school, I moved to Rochester, New York and rented a room from a woman with two kids who marched in the drum corps with me. Ann-Marie and Jimmy were still in high school, about 16 and 17 years old I think. I was working second shift so I was still at home when Ann-Marie and her friend Jennifer would get out of school. Her brother worked right after school, so it would just be the girls until the mom came home from work a few hours later, which was about the time I left for my job.

So here’s the scene: Ann-Marie and Jennifer are sitting at the dining room table doing their homework. I’m just puttering around the house until it’s time to go to work. Suddenly there’s a huge CRASH in the basement. We all stop what we’re doing and stare at each other until someone suggests it must have been the cat. This sounds plausible, so we all go back to what we were doing until Jennifer says, “Umm, the cat’s sleeping on the chair next to me.” In case you’ve never been a teenage girl or spent any time with a teenage girl, let me tell you that we can go from zero to PANIC in about point four-two seconds. It’s called Drama, and nobody does it better than three teenage girls home alone!

Of course, Drama dictates that the only other plausible cause for the noise in the basement was a serial killer/rapist or Freddy Krueger. We need to get out of the house now! But wait, that’s not good enough for Drama; instead, we need to INVESTIGATE first. We tiptoe towards the basement door, single file so that Freddy the serial killer/rapist doesn’t have to tackle us all at once but can take us down one at a time in a nice orderly fashion. Since it was Ann-Marie’s house, we were fine with letting her go first. Yeah, I know I was a couple years older and should have taken charge but c’mon, we’re talking about a serial killer/rapist and/or undead child murderer! Wait, we need weapons to defend ourselves, so as we creep through the kitchen, still in single file, Ann-Marie starts grabbing potential weapons and handing them back to Jennifer, who hands them to me. Let me tell you, by the time six weapons had been acquired, Ann-Marie had two big kitchen knives, Jennifer had two smaller-but-still-potentially-lethal knives, and I had a wooden spoon and a rug beater. I am NOT making this up. Maybe I should have taken the lead. At least then I would have had first pick of weapons and been able to do more than just give the guy a headache.

Well, the decision to check out the basement flew right out the front door when there was another CRASH. Actually, it was three screaming girls that flew right out the front door, but same thing. We tore out of that house like Freddy was right on our heels! At this point in the story, I should mention that our house was next door to an elementary school. And the little kids were just being let out for the day. And standing on the sidewalk in plain view are three teenage girls holding knives and freaking out. Correction: two teenage girls holding knives and one holding a rug beater. In front of an elementary school. Yeah, we got some looks. Oddly enough, now that I think about it, no one said anything to us. Then again, maybe that’s not odd; I don’t know that I’d walk up to a panicking stranger holding kitchen knives and ask them what was going on.

Over the next half-hour or so, two things became abundantly clear. One, we needed to call for help (this was in the 80s, before cell phones) so we needed to get the phone. And two, we were FREEZING and wanted our jackets. So we developed a fool-proof plan for entering the house, retrieving the phone AND our jackets, and getting out in one piece. Ann-Marie would find the phone, Jennifer would collect our coats, and I would stand halfway between the front door and the basement door holding two of the knives. I don’t remember if we actually decided what I was supposed to do if someone actually came out of the basement, we might have overlooked that variable.

I'm in the sunglasses, Jennifer is the redhead on the right and Ann Marie is directly in front of my in the first row.  Me and my girls... I miss you ladies!
It took another fifteen minutes to get up the nerve to carry out this plan. We were in and out in about ten seconds, just as my boyfriend pulled up to take me to work. He thought we were being ridiculous and went in to investigate. There was nothing awry in the basement. No signs anywhere in the house of an intruder. Although I imagine that any respectable serial killer/rapist/movie villain would never leave behind any evidence of his presence. Well, except for all the blood and carnage. And probably something cryptic written on the wall in blood. But nothing identifiable. But, we were assured that it was probably a stray cat or raccoon or other harmless rabid creature. So I wished the girls good luck not getting killed and then I headed off to work. I'd like to think the past twenty-some years have matured me to the point that noises in the basement wouldn't automatically bring to mind images from every scary movie I've ever seen. I have a feeling that's not the case.

NOTE: this photo was actually taken in Quebec City, which you can read about here.