keys, keys

By Margie Bailey Rose


Going through my mail one evening I noticed a card from the library saying a book I had ordered was in.  I decided to see if they were still open at ten-to-seven and maybe go see a movie afterward.  A quick stop at the cash machine, then the library, a stop for gas, and I could make it to the theatre by eight.  No problem.


In my rush to get to the library before 7 o'clock I made a snap decision to leave my very new car running in front of the cash machine– it would save a few seconds.  I thought of leaving the door open, but at the last instant I pushed it shut– with the lock down. 


Another one of those, Can I please go back in time? moments.  Just for a second; please, please, plezzzzzze?


My other car keys were in the house, but the house was locked, and my house keys were in the car.  One solution after another came to mind, and there was something wrong with every one.


1.     My daughter had a house key, but she was out on a date– I had no idea where.

2.     My son and our Landlord also had house keys, but their phone numbers were in my phone book– in the car.  I had no money to call information.  I could get a twenty out of the cash machine with the pathetic little plastic card in my hand (the cause of all my trouble.)  I could find someplace to change the twenty and borrow a writing implement to write the phone numbers from information.  Then I could make phone calls to people who probably weren't home and wait for my imaginary rescuers while the car ran out of gas and destroyed something really, really expensive in my really, really new car. 

3.     I could run home, and hope to find a door or window unlocked, or just break a window. 


The last choice sounded like the best idea.  I was in pretty good shape for a female fifty-something.   I could do it.  Off I ran in my dress, nylons and (thankfully) flat shoes.  The back door and the front door of my house were in different counties with a six-foot rock wall between them.  The front patio had a tall wood fence and no gate– and me without a grappling hook!


I decided to try the back door first.  I ran down the alley and checked the door and windows– all secure.  Darn!  I could run back down the alley and around six houses to the front door or climb the rock wall in a dress.  Some choice.  I climbed the wall hoping no cops would drive by.  I had no interest in explaining my situation to anyone and least of all a policeman or two.


The front door and windows were locked, so the next hope was the front patio.  My daughter often left the patio door unlocked feeling secure with the tall wood fence for protection.  I could not get a foothold in the solid fence and I couldn't pull my fat, aging body even two inches off the ground– much less six feet.  There was nothing in the beautifully maintained front yard to stand on, so it meant a climb back over the rock wall to get a patio chair.   By then I was perspiring, dirty, and bleeding from hands and knees– don't even picture the stockings.  After a third climb over the rock wall and with a chair to stand on in the very unstable ivy bed, I managed to get over the wooden fence and fall to the brick floor on my bad hip.  At least I missed the weight bench; that would have hurt even more.  (Did I say I was in good shape?  Lies, all lies.)  With dread and a shaking hand I tried the door handle.  Locked. Why now?  Why this time?  The window was also secure


My only remaining choices were to break the patio window or climb to the second floor, where #5 left her window open for the cat to come and go.  Not even a robber would try that, but this was a desperate woman with an empty gas-tank!   In my mind I begged, "Please don't let the neighbors (that I hate) see me and call the police."  I no longer felt pain and seemed to have the strength of a much younger me.  (All the weight lifting I guess– moving the weight bench from place to place to get it out of the way of my other projects.) 


I stacked two old fish tanks in the corner of the patio and climbed on top, grabbed a branch, and swung up into the ficus tree, and onto the very steep patio roof that was half shingled and half open beams– what a stupid architectural choice.  Shades of my childhood walking logs (more like crawling logs at my age.)  Yes, the window was open a few inches.   I didn't care that I broke the screen and pulled #5's curtain down as I flung open the window and crawled in.


On unsteady legs I made my way to the bathroom, washed my scratched face, and brushed dirt and leaves from my hair.  I found the extra car key in my jewelry box and dashed out the door and back to the bank.  There my dear little car sat, humming along– no crowd of people standing around wondering aloud what kind of idiot would run off leaving their car running.  I got in and sat there with my heart pounding. 


During the whole nightmare I had not looked at my watch.  It was only 7:20–  plenty of time to buy gas and get to the movie!


It was Ghost and I sat through it with shredded nylons drying in the blood on my knees.  I imagined bugs crawling in my hair and down my neck.  But I was there– head up, back straight, (and as always) defiant in my misery.