Let me begin with a brief description of my grandparent's (now my own) house. It is a large two story farmhouse, built, as I have said before, over 100 years ago. At the time this story took place, the floor plan was like this..
You entered the front door and were faced with a hallway that ran to the family room at the back of the house. To the front right, the staircase leading up to the second floor. To the right, the doorway into the dining room. Half way down the hall, to the left, a doorway leading into what was then a bed room (years after this took place, the hallway wall was removed, and the bedroom and hallway converted into an open living room area. From the family room, you entered the kitchen, and the back door was to your immediate left. By standing in the family room, just inside the two doorways, you were able to see both the front and back doors, which is important to my story, so I hope you are able to get a mental image of what I describe.
Now, to quote Paul Harvey, for the rest of the story.
My grandfather was a conductor on the railroad (the tracks run very close by our house). He was at that time working the night shift, and would not get home until after daybreak. My mother and father had taken my two oldest brothers to the movies that night, which left my grandmother at home alone. When they arrived back at the farm, instead of carrying the two sleeping boys inside immediately, they sat parked in their car at one side of the house, watching what they said were a couple of “dancing stars” in the summer sky. While they sat there, a movement in the front yard caught the attention of my father. He saw what was (he thought), my grandfather walking across the yard, and making his way toward the back door. My grandfather carried to work each night a standard tool of the men working on the railroad. It was a lantern, somewhat bell shaped, with a flexible handle at the top, and designed to cast light down toward the ground, and out…when carried by the handle, with your hands to your side as you walked, it cast light from about the knees down, and outward about 6 or so feet on the surrounding ground. What caught my father's attention was the presence of such a light, revealing the legs of the carrier, as he walked along in a shuffling gait, just like my grandfather's. Thinking something must be wrong, for my grandfather to be making his way home on foot (there was no sign of his car in the drive), Dad got out of the car and followed him across the yard and around the corner of the house. The image was a bit ahead of him, and was rounding the back corner of the house just ahead of Dad. When Dad got to the corner of the house, he saw the person enter the back porch door, and make his way toward the back door, with Dad “hot on his heels”. The porch itself was screened in, with no means for someone to escape, other than through the door Dad had just entered, or by entering the door leading into the house. Dad proceeded on in the back door, which was unlocked, and since he had just seen someone enter, that wasn't much of a surprise..But what was a surprise, was coming face to face with my grandmother, standing in the family room doorway, face white , eyes large, meeting him with “How did you get in? The door was locked.”
When all was said and told, it was revealed that she had spent the last half hour or so in terror, standing in the doorways, watching first the knob on the back door turning back and forth slowly, and immediately followed by the same pattern at the front door. She had been convinced of a burgular…probably two, for one person would not have had the time in between the front and back door movements, to have traveled around the house. So, who was turning the knobs? Who was the man my father followed..and where did he go…and how did the door, which was supposed to have been locked with a dead bolt (and my grandmother was very conscientious about locking them when alone) get unlocked to let my father in? My grandfather was still at work, btw…..
© Paulette Boyd
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