As I write this my hands are shaking slightly, my heart is thumping a little more fiercely than normal, adrenaline is lighting up my nerve-endings and I can hear the faint murmur of joking policemen on the street below.
I’m not sure if I should be grateful or embarrassed.
Half an hour ago, at about 1:30am, I got up to open the bathroom door and it was locked. Not just stuck, or cranky, properly locked. And Jeremy was in the other room. Not ideal. Definitely not great news. But how bad could it be? We had been home all night. Jeremy came over to check it out. We were joking, worrying about logistics. Then we heard something. A shuffle perhaps. The front door had been unlocked, had someone snuck in without us knowing?
We did not stop to think why an intruder would take the time to break into our apartment only to hide in our bathroom. Instead, we stood very close to the door and listened. Close enough that we would have been trampled if someone had come flying out the door, close enough that we thought we heard something else. Jeremy wedged his foot up on the door. We stood there for a moment, petrified.
Finally, I knocked on the door across the hall and woke up our neighbors. Barrel-chested and dopey from sleep, the husband answered the door as he pulled on his trousers. “What’s going on honey?” I fumbled and stumbled and explained that I suspected there might be an intruder in my bathroom. He looked surprised but not exactly scared, not exactly sure why I had woken him up to tell him such wonderful news. “Well, lets call the cops.” For some reason the thought had not even crossed my mind.
So with the couple peering out from their doorframe, and Jeremy leaning against the door, I dialed 911 for the first time in my life. I spoke to the women for three minutes, hung up, and the ‘boys’ arrived in four.
Five of them buzzed the door bell, a blur of close cropped hair and navy blue uniforms came pounding up the creaking stairs. “We’re here now. Step aside”. Like some scene from the Wire, they cocked their guns and broke down the measly door.
There was no one there.
The couple from next door looked dazed, Jeremy and I looked sheepishly relieved, and the cops made some joke about gargantuan rats in the area. It was all blissfully anti-climatic. As they marched away, their bulk taking up most of the staircase, I felt ridiculously grateful to be living in a New York neighborhood where five policemen will be at my door in five minutes flat. Ridiculously grateful to my poor neighbors and Jeremy and the good-humored boys in blue.