Did I ever tell about the time I thought my neighbor was going to kill me?
I usually post about how sweet all my neighbors are and how well we all know each other.
That is true now, but there was a time when we were more distant before I gradually began to form relationships with each of them. Sometimes relationships were formed "under the gun" literally.
Maude (not her real name) seemed like a typical widow-woman like many of the older single women living near our home. But, I think she may have been divorced instead. I had seen her out working in her yard often. We had even exchanged a few pleasantries. One day I decided to pay her a visit in order to ask about an upcoming neighborhood event. Maude is often in charge of those kinds of things. I had little baby Ava with me. She was only about 6 months old at the time, so this was several years ago. I rang the bell and Maude graciously asked me to come inside. I had never been in her house before. It was meticulously clean, and very beige. Beige carpet, couches, walls, lamps. Everything sort of ran together in my mind and I felt a little weak, perhaps because it was a tad stuffy inside. We began to chat, and I noticed that Maude had a strange habit of moving her mouth while I was talking. I've never seen anyone else do this. It makes it hard to look a person in the face when they do this because all you want to do is stare at their mouth as it busily moves up and down forming completely silent words as you speak. I tried to only look in her eyes and ignore the mouth. I still have trouble with that to this day. After a few minutes, Maude ushered me through the house to the back porch. I was glad to be leaving the stuffiness for some cooler air. As soon as we entered the porch, Maude turned to pick up something from a bench. I suddenly realized the item was a rifle! She picked it up so casually, but it appeared that she was preparing to aim it at me. In one fraction of a second a million ideas flashed through my mind. I can't believe she is going to shoot me! What about my baby? How can I get out of this? Should I run? This just can't be happening! I was frozen to the spot. I felt like if I was mistaken, and she really did not plan to kill me, then it would be terribly rude to scream or run. However, the instinct to survive and most of all to protect my baby was so strong that I also could not completely dismiss the idea that I might need to fight or flee. Adding to my mental anguish was her startling resemblance to Kathy Bates in the movie Misery. Thankfully, before I was forced to make the terrible decision of what to do, she lowered the gun onto a different chair and uttered, "I can't stand those squirrels in the yard. I try to shoot at them when I get a chance." I was flooded with relief.
I have never told her what went through my mind that day even though we talk fairly often now. Sometimes I wonder if she noticed the look of fear and shock on my face that day. It must have passed so quickly, but I am sure my face must have conveyed a look of complete terror if only for an instant.
One thing I learned from that encounter is that one should avoid handling firearms when meeting a new neighbor in order not to scare them senseless. Just figured I would pass along that little tip.