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The Late Night Intruder
Chapter 18 of The Old Home Place
My friend, C.A. Phillips, from the old neighborhood of Payneway, AR, sent in this thriller. C.A. said, in 1949 no one realized the need to latch screen doors or to lock entrance doors at bed time. We lived a half mile from the highway, so there was no through traffic. Besides, all the people we knew were considered ‘honest beyond question’. Seldom did a stranger come through our quiet, little community. There was no fear of theft or vandalism and certainly not a heinous crime.
Our lives were about to change, and cause our neighborhood to reconsider its position. One cool, spring night my family all went to bed as usual. My brother, sister and I slept in bedrooms in the back of the house, so we were unaware of the events the night would hold for our parents and the next door neighbors. Dad said, around midnight there was a loud knock at the front door. Immediately, Dad arose thinking one of the neighbors needed assistance. Instead, Dad found a grizzly stranger at the door. The stranger was visibly intoxicated. The man also, had a slight cut on his neck that had dripped blood down onto his shirt collar. However, it was obvious to Dad the wound was not serious.
The man told Dad, he had been at a local tavern, had a few drinks, and had hitched a ride with two strange men. The strangers had offered to give him a ride to his home. The assailants instead robbed him and apparently attempted to murder him by trying to cut his throat. The man said, he fought back and barely escaped. The thugs then left the man on the side of the highway. Knowing the man was too intoxicated to understand God’s saving Grace, should it be explained to him, Dad sent the man on his way. For the first time ever, Dad locked the doors before returning to bed. Dad hoped to get a good night’s rest after that unexpected intrusion.
Two hours later there was another rude awakening. Someone was frantically knocking on our front door again. Dad, thinking it was his earlier, unwelcome visitor, tried to ignore the knocking and hoped the fellow would go away. Then Dad heard several knocks, each becoming louder and louder. Dad then recognized the voices of our neighbors, the Sheltons. As luck would have it, Awalt and Short Shelton, from across the road, had been away visiting relatives that night and had returned home around 2:00 o’clock a.m. The Sheltons were yelling for Dad to come to the door. Dad got up and went to the front door again to find Awalt and his wife, Short, very excited and scared.
The Sheltons told Dad they had just returned home and found a man, who appeared to be dead, lying on their living room floor. Dad got dressed and the three of them ran back over to the Shelton’s home, leaving Mom behind to watch out for us children. The same intoxicated man, who had been at our front door earlier, was lying on the Shelton’s living room floor and was trying to get back to his feet when Dad and the Sheltons arrived. The man, who had left our house by special invitation, had gone across the road to the Shelton’s place.
Finding the Sheltons away and the doors unlocked, the man invited his self in and passed out, in a drunken state, just beyond the front door. After Dad and the Sheltons had evaluated the situation they called the local Deputy Sheriff who gave the intruder a ride, this time a safe one, to his own home. There was no arrest, as the Deputy felt the fellow had paid well for his ‘night out’.
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