Coming Face to Face with a Burglar - A True Story
El Paso, Texas
I was born and raised most of my life in the city of El Paso, Texas which borders with the Mexican town of Cuidad Juarez. When I was a teenager, back in the early 70’s, Cuidad Juarez was nothing like it is today. It was a little rough, but my dad could take us over there to do some shopping and eat dinner and you really didn’t have to worry about drug cartels or being kidnapped for human trafficking like you do today.
El Paso was a big town,but we lived in a small, middle class neighborhood where we kids could play outside all day and we knew to be home when the porch light came on. We did lock our doors at night, but I never knew of any crimes committed in our little neighborhood. All the neighbors knew each other and we were almost like one big family where everyone looked out for each other.
My dad worked about 90 miles away at the White Sands Missile Range where he was Captain of the fire department. He would work 24 hours on and then 24 hours off. He would leave the house about 5:30 in the morning and be gone until about 8:15 the next morning. So there were many nights that my mom and I would spend by ourselves, but we were never afraid.
I was 16 years old at the time of this incident and had gone out with one of my friends to the bowling alley. We met up with some more of our friends and bowled until about 11:00. It was the weekend and I didn’t have to be home until midnight. My mom would go on to sleep before I got home, but I always had to wake her up so she would know I arrived home safely.
On this night, I arrived home a little early and noticed that all the lights in the house were on. When I walked into her bedroom to let her know I was home, I saw her sitting on the edge of her bed holding on to my old BB gun. I almost chuckled when I ask her what she was doing. She proceeded to snap back at me that it wasn’t funny, someone had been trying to break into the house.
We lived in a moderately nice house. It was a 3 bedroom house with a nice large living room and kitchen. The kitchen had a door that led out to the driveway. Mom said that someone had been trying to get in the kitchen door, so she turned on all the lights and got my old BB gun to scare them away. I don’t know who she thought she would scare with my BB gun, but she was afraid of my dad’s shotgun and wouldn’t touch it.
I assured her that it was probably just some neighborhood kids playing around. You know how kids used to knock on your door and then run away. I checked to see that all the doors were locked and told her to go back to sleep, it was close to midnight and I was sure the kids are back home by then. I turned out all the lights, put on my jammies and went to bed.
As I lay in bed, the house is dark and quiet. The only sound I hear is the ticking of my alarm clock sitting beside my bed. As I begin to drift off to sleep, I hear it! The sound of someone jiggling the doorknob on the kitchen door. I sit straight up in bed! Did I really hear that or was it just my imagination? Then I heard it again, clearly this time, someone is trying to get in the kitchen door! My dad has been meaning to replace the door knob on the kitchen door. If you jiggle it long enough, it will come unlocked.
As I gather my composure, I think to myself that it is probably those kids again. I decide that I am going to jerk the door open and scare the crap out of them the next time they jiggle the door knob. As I creep into the kitchen and peer around the corner, I see the face of a man staring in the window of the kitchen door. This is not kids playing around! I jump back into the hallway and quickly remember the shot gun that my dad keeps loaded inside his closet. I rush to get it as my mom follows me down the hallway. As I quickly dig the shot gun out of the back of the closet, my mom starts to panic. I reassure her that I know how to use the shotgun as my dad taught me to shoot from an early age. He used to take me bird hunting when I was younger. I check that there are shells in the shot gun, it is loaded with two shells, which should be all I need.
I tell my mom to stay in the hallway and I slowly creep around the corner and into the kitchen. I duck down behind the kitchen cabinet and remain motionless, listening to see if he comes back. I can hear my heart pounding in my ears and I am breathing too fast. I calm myself down and slow my breathing. Just as I have decided he is gone, I hear the door knob jiggle once again.
Slowly, I raise the shot gun up and rest the barrel on the edge of the kitchen cabinet. I check my aim, looking down the barrel of the shot gun. I hear the door knob as it continues to jiggle, then I hear a little click. Just as I raise my head back up I see the kitchen door begin to open. He has managed to jiggle the door knob until it unlocked!
Oh my God! The door is slowly opening! Am I really going to shoot someone? Quickly I pray to God that I don’t have to fire the shotgun. I don’t want to shoot anyone, but what will happen if he gets inside? He has been very determined to get inside the house. He knows there is someone home. What does he want? Does he know that my dad is not home tonight? Does he want to rob us? Is he a rapist or a serial killer? A thousand questions run through my head!
I take a deep breath and watch as his hand comes around the edge of the door. My hands are shaking! My heart is racing as he sticks his head in the room and begins to look around. I notice that he is very dirty, with black all over his face. I quickly tell myself that I am not scared, I’m mad! I am not going to let this person intrude into my house! I quickly stand up, holding the shot gun aimed right at him.
I yelled something at him, I have no idea what it was I said. He jerked his head around and his eyes became as big as dinner plates when he saw me standing there with the shot gun. He began to scream something back to me in Spanish, but I couldn’t tell what he was saying. He quickly jumped back out the door and disappeared into the darkness.
I slammed the door shut and re-locked it. As I looked out the window there was nothing but blackness outside and all I could hear was my heart pounding a zillion miles an hour. I quickly thanked God that I didn’t have to shoot the man and that everyone was all right. I placed a chair in front of the door and propped it against the door knob. No one would be opening that door again tonight!
I did go to bed, but I don’t think I ever slept that night. I kept the shot gun on the floor beside my bed. I remember my dad coming in my room the next morning. I woke up as he was picking the shot gun up off the floor. With a smile on his face, he whispered to me, “You did good sister, now go back to sleep.”
There was a railroad not far from our house and I really think that he was perhaps a migrant worker or a “hobo” who was looking for food. Whoever he was, I was certain that he wouldn’t be trying to rummage at our house again! My dad fixed the door knob the next day and my mom kept the BB gun under her bed, “Just in case” she said.
Have you ever had a break in while you were home?
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