Screaming on the Prairie

cropped-IMG_20160608_080120-1.jpgRecently, an officer of the Out There knocked at my door at nine in the evening.
It was a typical Monday evening. The Bubs and I had camped in bed and pulled out a fresh Rick Riordan book to devour before sleep.
I didn’t hear the doorbell or a knock. Instead, I was alerted to the presence of an Unknown by the rangy trio of canine critters that rule my dwelling. They barked.
Here’s the thing: at nine p.m. on the prairie, visiting is not a Thing. Most rural dwellers are armed to the teeth, and no one approaches a door unannounced, not even on Halloween. Especially then, perhaps, as all visitors are dressed as something villainous, sketchy at best, and holding bags for loot. My Bubs and I instead attend Fall Parties for our miniature candy bars. Much safer.
Returning to my story.
I grabbed the most vicious of the three dogs, scooped him into my arms–he’s a great deterrent; no one nears when he’s in my hands, growling and showing teeth, though he rides through life only three inches above the ground and looks more gremlin than pup–and opened the door.
There he stood. A policeman. With his hand perched above his weapon, and not euphemistically.
“Yes, sir?” I asked as I strolled casually out the door to meet the officer where he stood. He backed a couple of inches, so I stopped.
“Everything alright, ma’am?”
“Yeah,” I quipped. I was a little bewildered. “I’ve got Netflix and I’m wearing yoga pants, what could be wrong?”
I heard crickets. Literal crickets. Humor doesn’t fly with men in uniform.
I sobered quickly and assumed an interested gaze.
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied. (And I’d swear he backed another inch or so, but that may have been my imagination.) “We got a call from a neighbor that a woman was screaming from inside this home.”
I blinked.
“Which neighbor?” I asked.
His turn to blink.
“Uh, well, it was the one two houses down.”
“Really?” I queried.
Again, the cop nodded.
“I didn’t think they cared!” I gushed. “That makes me feel good.”
Honestly, I’ve said twelve words to that neighbor, and that was only because my big dog may have perhaps possibly sort of kind of tried to kill their cat which stumbled around on only three legs and had half an ear missing and a stringy tail. If anything, my dog was curious, as any critter would be; a fuzzy rat-looking thing pivoting in circles? Come on. That’s an oddity worthy of investigating. He wouldn’t have killed the cat. Most likely.
But that verbal exchange was over three years ago.
“They care that I’m screaming? Aw! I’m gonna bake them a batch of cookies…”
“To be clear, ma’am, you are not in distress?”
“No! I’m good!” For a moment I inspected the officer’s face. He seemed familiar, like I’d seen a picture of him somewhere…in a local bird shop…and he was covered in macaws… “Hey, you’re the bird guy!”
I swear he backed another foot.
“Yeeeeeesss…” he responded warily.
“I saw your picture at the bird store! Macaws? Green ones? Maybe blue?” I realized I was shaking my pointer finger at him, like that would help him remember his own pets.
“Yeeeeesss…” he repeated. “And there’s nothing wrong, here, in the house?”
“Nope, I’m good! Just gonna go bake for the neighbor.”
I smiled stupidly; he questioned my sanity. And then I remembered why he was at my door. “Oh, so the screaming? Probably a coyote, you think?”
“Yeeeeesss,” he said yet again, this time not as warily as wearily, and his hand move away from his gun. “You have a good night.”
“You, too, thank you!” And I waved into the dark as he left.
I turned back into the house, shooing the other two mangy beasts away from my feet, and there stood my Bubs, just inside the foyer. (Hey, prairie dwellings have foyers; we’re cultured like that.)
“I told you to stay away from the door,” I scolded as I put the pekingese down to resume his verbal onslaught of the officer now backing from the driveway to tell who-knew-what-story to the boys in the station.
“I wanted to make sure you were okay.”
Aaaaw! Now I need to make two batches of cookies!
So much love in the tall grasses.
I hope that coyote found love, too.