Close Encounters

Sunday, Oct. 24,
Early Monday, Oct. 25
With a strong wind behind and a flat road ahead, I hurriedly traveled the 28 miles to Onarga under storm threatening skies. I had not left Gibson City until late in the morning and consequently I did not arrive until well after dark. Unfortunately, I was soon to discover that Onarga has no inns or motels and while wondering, “What will I do?” the long threatening rains began.
Looking around I spied a sales lot of large garden sheds. You’ve all seen them - the type that look like mini barns. With the rain coming down, I stood there pondering the question of whether I could, like a hobo, sleep away the night in a shed next to the main street of town. Have I sunk to new lows on this journey?
As I mulled over the question a thunder clap answered and I soon found myself, along with my cart, inside its dry confines and hence became denizens for the night. It was actually quite roomy and after setting my alarm I went comfortably to sleep knowing that I would be gone undetected by daylight. Wrong.
I got up at 4:30 and gingerly exited the shed to relieve my bladder. A thick fog had moved in during the night and the early morning scene reminded me of one of those old werewolf movies where a scream comes from out of the dark. Well, spooky as it was, I figured that at this early hour no one would be out and about. But as I stood there a car came slowly down a small side street in my direction. I jumped from the beam of its headlights and into the shed not knowing if it had seen me or if it had not. Besides - unless it was a policeman or the business owner - surely no one would bother to get involved. As I stood in my confines listening intently I heard a car pull slowly onto the gravel of the very lot which now contained me as prisoner! Oh great, here we go! Whoever it is will call the police or perhaps try to open the door. My heart raced as I thought about the tight situation in which I now found myself. I quickly and quietly started packing to make a hurried exit all the while rehearsing what I might say to the arriving police. They would probably put a spotlight on the door and with guns drawn order me out, “with your hands in the air!” My imagination was racing but after ten minutes of perfect quiet on a foggy morning at 4:45 A.M. I now believed that whoever I had seen and heard must have moved on. So thinking it safe, I decided to exit.
I slowly opened the door, peeped around and seeing no one - I stepped cautiously out. No sooner had I set my foot on the ground than a car engine roared to life not 10 feet away and drove off. Shocked by the encounter, I went into high gear and practically ran down the dark foggy streets of Onarga toward the safety of the city limit. Who had it been? Why were they sitting there? There was now no doubt they had seen me and like a cat with a mouse - they had patiently waited and “flushed me out.”
I did not slow until I was lost to the dark of the countryside.

I got away with this one but it was indeed a rather close call. After all these years of being cautious in my role as a teacher and being overly concerned with my community image I must confess I found the whole experience refreshingly exciting. Do you remember those things we did as children that would cause our hearts to race? For the moment, I was high on life finding the situation surprisingly delicious.
I laughed out loud as I reached the safety of the town limits.
Today I would need no coffee.

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