Safety First

Share the story of a time you felt unsafe.


As newlyweds, we moved into an apartment about 1 1/2 miles from Stillwater State Prison in Minnesota.  It was more out in the country than in a town, but we both liked that better.   However, there had been some escapes from the prison over the years, and I was fearful if I had to be alone at night.

It was more of a duplex than an apartment, really.  Our landlady lived on the other side of the  wall that divided us.  There was a connecting door, which she assured us was locked as she gave us the only key. to that door.

Terry was job hunting as well as being in the Reserves, so he was gone far more often than I liked.  When I was alone overnight, I slept with a butcher knife in one hand and a flashlight in the other, and the bedroom door closed and blocked with a chair.  I know, it sounds silly, but come on.  I was 21, a new bride, and very nervous about being alone so close to a prison.

Very early on one of those lonely overnights, I actually did hear footsteps in the house.  I knew it couldn’t be Terry.  I was in a cold sweat, on full alert, as the steps came closer and closer to the bedroom. It was an old house, and there was plenty of light coming in under the bedroom door.  When the footsteps stopped, I could see exactly where his feet were.  He stood there for what seemed like hours, while my heart sped up and my breath caught like a ball in my throat.  My eyes must have been as big as baseballs, waiting for whatever was going to happen next.

Then he moved, and to my immense relief, it was in the other direction.  I heard the creak of the floor, the scrape of the outside door, and then silence.

I was so terrified I could hardly move, and the last thing I wanted to do was get out of bed and go look at the rest of the house.  Eventually nature called, though, and I had to get up.  There was no one in the house, no indication that there had been someone there. But there had been.  No question about it.

Later that day, our toilet backed up and I reached for the plunger that we kept right there.  It was gone.  Huh.  Strange.

When Terry came home, I told him the whole story, including the mystery of the missing plunger.  His face was stony and there was fire shooting out of his eyes as he turned and left the house.  I heard him knock on the landlady’s door; I heard voices, then the opening and closing of our door.

When Terry came back into our side of the house, he had our plunger.  He was steaming.  I don’t know when I’ve ever seen him so angry.

The landlady had a son, somewhere in his 40’s, who stayed with her now and then.  He was a bachelor, and I think he was somewhat slow.  A rather strange guy, in any case.  It was her son who had entered our side through the connecting door that they weren’t supposed to be able to use.  He wanted to “borrow” our plunger–they’d had problems with their plumbing, as well.  The reason he stood so long outside the bedroom door was that he couldn’t remember which door was to the bathroom. He finally figured it out without trying to open the bedroom door.

We didn’t have a lease agreement.  We moved out of there pretty quickly.

No, I didn’t feel safe there. Not at all!



5 thoughts on “Footsteps

  1. I have lived in a few places that had landlords with no boundaries, just like your story. In the same situation I would have put a piece of heavy furniture against that connecting door “just in case” because people lie and they do have keys (like your landlady) and are apt to feel, since they own the property, that roaming around in their tenants’ half isn’t unethical if not downright illegal. I’m glad you moved. I suspect the visits would have become more frequent and there might have been some even worse event in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The danger you fear does not always come from the source you think it will. Luckily in this case there really wasn’t a true danger, but it could have been , but not from anyone from the prison. If I lived there..after that happened, I would have moved out too.

    Liked by 1 person

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