It was six minutes after midnight when the doorbell chimed.
I was sitting alone in my chair, the television was on, and I could see the door, but not the person who rang the bell.
Who could it be?
It couldn’t be anyone in the family. They all have keys so they can walk right in.
It had to be a stranger. Gulp!
For as long as I can remember, and that’s a really long time, I’ve been a night owl. I’d rather stay up three hours later than rise one hour earlier than I have to.
On many of my solo journeys through the late night hours I’ve wondered what I’d do if someone knocked at the door.
I could call my husband, Bill, my protector for 40-some years, who was sleeping soundly upstairs. Yeah, right.
If I yelled up the stairs, “Somebody is knocking at the door!” and IF he heard me, he’d yell back, “Well answer it!” or words to that effect.
I can’t argue the logic of that answer.
But wait a second. The bell chimed at six minutes after midnight.
It must have been the clock. It chimes forever on the hour.
Forever maybe, but not for six minutes.
Now it’s seven minutes. I have to answer the door. I finally move in that direction, slowly.
What if it’s a thief, a robber, an axe murderer?
What if it is? There are two locked doors between him and me, and a telephone on the desk, and a healthy scream ready to pop out of my mouth.
What if no one is there? Oops! A ghost?
No, any ghosts who know me would know that I only want to meet ghosts at high noon in a public place. I’d see right through strange ghosts.
I glance out the door as I turn on the porch light. Sure enough, no other lights on in the neighborhood.
Standing on the porch was a petite, normal looking woman. She looked as frightened as I was.
I opened the door. She looked relieved to see an old woman with her hair in rollers who was wearing a lumpy looking robe. Actually the robe wasn’t lumpy, the old woman was. I think she felt safe because it was obvious I wasn’t going to chase her anywhere.
She explained that her van parked across the street had just blown a tire and asked if she could use our phone to call for help.
I handed her the phone, and in a few minutes she smiled and told me help was on the way.
Wisely, I told her she could wait on the porch if she wished. She declined. I offered her soft drinks for herself and her passengers. Again she said thanks, but no thanks.
Two ladies, friendly but cautious, declining further conversation because it was after midnight, and we live in dangerous times—even in little towns.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on Oct. 28, 1998