Lala stood bolt upright at the foot of our bed—where she slept each night—and huffed out a few low barks. Husband rolled over.
“Lie down, Lala,” I said, glancing at the clock. 3:54 a.m.
She puffed out another series of soft barks, her body erect. The strip of fur running down her spine stood on end.
“Lala,” Husband said. “Lie down.”
For another minute, we took turns shushing the dog. Then we heard the creak of the wood floor in the dining room followed by footsteps into the kitchen. Must be one of the girls, I thought. Husband got out of bed and left the bedroom. I curled up in the warm cocoon of blankets, hoping to fall asleep again. Still at attention, Lala now pressed her rigid body against mine.
“Oh, Lala,” I said, annoyed.
Just then, the security alarm began to beep—triggered by an opened door—and Husband came back into the bedroom, heading straight for the closet. I heard the unlatching clicks of his locked box. He exited the bedroom with his .357 Sig.
“What on earth?” I said, sitting up.
I rushed into the kitchen. Lala finally sprang from the bed, following at my heels.
The kitchen window stood wide open. Even the screen was raised. Wafts of frigid winter air billowed in. Husband stood at the back door, staring out toward the alley. His gun hung at his side.
“There was a guy in here,” he said, going for the phone. “He got away.”
Before its beeping could turn into shrieking and alert the security company, I disabled the alarm.
“A guy just broke into our house,” Husband said to the 911 operator on the other end of the line.
I flew around the house, first checking on the girls, then scanning the place for missing items. I heard Husband describe the intruder. He recounted the events of the morning. “He came in through the kitchen window and left through the back door.”
“Anything missing?” Husband called to me.
“Not that I notice,” I said.
“Nothing was stolen,” he said into the phone. He hung up.
“Wait,” I said, my stomach dropping. “My purse is gone.”
Husband dialed 911 again and added the missing purse and its description to the case details.
I went upstairs to the bedrooms of the two youngest to deliver the news, coating my words with calm. Dicka burst into tears, but then fueled by the excitement, she and Ricka scurried downstairs. I headed to the basement to tell Flicka.
“I thought I heard something,” she said. Unfazed, she plunged her face back into her pillow.
Ricka and Dicka disappeared into their rooms. Within ten minutes, we heard a knock at the front door.
Officers Johnson and Drake searched the house, swiping every corner with their flashlights. Then they returned to the dining room to ask us some questions.
“You have a pit bull, and she didn’t do anything?” Officer Johnson said. He chuckled.
“She woke us,” I said with a shrug.
Just then, Officer Drake got a radio call. He talked into the piece on his shoulder.
“Do you know a Terrance Donaldson?” he asked us.
“No,” Husband said. I shook my head.
Drake relayed some information into the radio, then turned to us.
“We’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is we got the guy. Terrance Donaldson. And we got your purse.”
“Wow. That’s incredible,” I said.
“The bad news is your purse will be in police evidence for a while.”
Then Officer Drake explained their side of the early morning call.
“We had a lot of patrol cars in the area. We just got done with another arrest. A squad saw a car coming out of an alley, and when they made eye contact with the driver, he looked nervous. When they pulled him over, they saw him trying to cover up a purse. They asked him about it. He said it was his fiancée’s. They asked her name, and he said he didn’t know. They pulled him out of the car, found it was your name on all the cards in the purse, and arrested him. He was on probation, so he’ll probably go away for a long time.”
“Unbelievable,” I said.
Then came a rap at the door. Two technicians from the crime lab—a diminutive female and an imposing male—entered with their suitcases.
“That window’s high off the ground,” the woman said to her partner. “You’ve got a couple of feet on me. You take the outside.”
The man dusted for prints on the window frame outside, while inside, the woman dabbed black powder onto our white kitchen window sill.
“We want to link him to the inside of your house, but we’re not getting any prints,” the man said when they finished. “Must’ve worn gloves.”
Officer Drake handed me a card.
“Here’s the phone number and name of the sergeant assigned to your case: Sergeant Sloan. Give him a call with any questions you have.”
Officers Johnson and Drake and the technicians from the crime lab left.
“You were never going to shoot him, were you?” I said to Husband.
“By the time I got my gun, he was already gone.”
For the rest of the day, I mulled the facts of the morning over in my mind. Our house was one of only a few on our block with a security system, and that system was armed, but it didn’t prevent Terrance from entering through the only unlocked window in the house. Husband was home with us and not away on travel for work. Although Lala was too timid to go after the intruder, she woke us in time. None of our property was damaged—no shattered windows or splintered doors to replace. My purse was stolen, but within minutes, recovered by the police. And Terrance Donaldson was arrested.
The crime lab technicians said they didn’t capture any fingerprints. But while the intruder may not have left his mark in our house, Someone else did. And His prints were everywhere.
*Miss an installment of the blog? Or want to catch the story from the beginning? Visit http://www.tamarajorell.com/blog-entries-by-date
*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.