I’ve been living alone for 19 months now, and, if you ask me, I will tell you that it’s pretty great.
But I suspect I like be alone more than most people.
(Meaning I suspect I like to walk around naked more than most people.)
When I moved last November into the place I currently call home, my stepdad and mom came to visit. My mom bought me some curtains and curtain rods, and my stepdad bought me steel plates for the deadbolts in my doors, a combo carbon monoxide/smoke detector (the fancy kind that talks to me), and a can of pepper spray. He made me practice spraying the pepper spray into the sink before he left.
I put the pepper spray in a basket in my dining room and promptly forgot about it. I don’t spend a whole lot of time being afraid of people. I do, however, spend a lot of time being afraid of the ghost man who lives in my hallway, and I’m pretty sure that when the shit comes down with Hallway Man, pepper spray ain’t gonna help me.
I’m very aware that I should be afraid of real, living people and that I’ve adopted an attitude of false security, which arises from the fact that I am ensconced in my apartment by four doors: an outer and inner front door, an outer and inner back door.
The outer front door uses a handle lock, which isn’t great, but my inner front door, the door that opens to my living room, has no fewer than three locks, one of them a deadbolt, and a chain.
The outer back door uses a bolt, the kind you can open with a key, and my inner back door, which opens to the hallway where Hallway Man lives, has two locks, one of them a deadbolt, and a chain.
Furthermore, I live on the second floor, which is considerably harder to break into than the first if we’re talking windows here. And my neighborhood is pretty safe for being so close to downtown.
So, yeah, I feel pretty safe.
Most of the time.
I had heard something on NPR a few days about about some Bonnie and Clyde duo that’s racing around the country, eluding capture at every turn. I guess this Bonnie broke this Clyde and a few of his buddies out of prison several days ago. The buddies have since been captured, but Bonnie and Clyde apparently have been wrecking havoc wherever they go, robbing people, killing people, and possibly even stabbing people. I listened to the story, riveted, fearful, and then I heard they were up north in Montana near the Canadian border, and police hoped they’d boxed them in. So I settled back into my false security. It’s cozy there.
Yesterday I heard something mentioned in passing on NPR about a beauty salon robbery in northwest Arkansas. They thought this duo might be tied to it. That’s weird, I thought. Weren’t they in Canada by now?
Then last night I was lying in bed idly catching up on my Facebook feed. One of my friends who lives in NWAR said that she was going to stay with some friends until police catch the fugitives. That’s when it hit me. NWAR is close. Really close. Like, five hours close. It’s also close to home for me mentally, as that’s where I went to school. And it’s only an hour away from all of my immediate family.
So I decided to google “fugitives northwest Arkansas” to see what came up.
That’s where I saw this.
I flew out of bed, put a shirt on so I won’t have to flee the convicts naked, and found my can of pepper spray, buried underneath bills and documents from the last nine months.
I thought that I should test it again to make sure it still works. This was a dire situation, wasn’t it? Ex-cons only hundreds of miles away! Surely their next stop was my apartment. So I turned the safety off, took aim at my kitchen sink, and pressed down on the button.
After a successful spray, I looked into the sink and saw how red it was. Huh. It wasn’t red when I tested it before.
As the cloud of pepper engulfed me, I remembered that it was a PRACTICE CAN that I’d practiced with before. Not the real thing. Jesus Christ.
So, yeah, I stumbled around for a few minutes, coughing and sneezing, my eyes burning and streaming. Rufus, who has a significantly keener sense of smell than me, fled to the bedroom.
That stuff is POTENT. So potent that I decided to completely revise my prior stance on Hallway Man. Pretty sure even he won’t be fucking with me anytime soon with that pepper spray tucked in my bedside table.
Be safe, y’all. And watch out for those blue eyes.