It was a dark and stormy night …
Seriously, this particular night was dark and stormy, but we were all sleeping soundly when the phone woke us up – maybe about 2:30, 3:00 a.m..
As I have said before, middle-of-the-night phone calls can mean anything in a pastor’s house: someone wanting money, someone needing the answer to a deep, theological question (funny story about that), or an emergency.
I could tell by listening to Ken’s side of the conversation, that this was an emergency. His last words, before he hung up, were, “I’ll be right there.”
Of course, I was awake. “What’s happening?” I asked.
“That was the police. I need to meet them at the hospital. Someone broke into Mrs. __________ house and attacked her.” Mrs. __________ was our church organist (so I’ll call her Mrs. CO.) She was in her late 70s, a widow, who lived in a beautiful home on the south side of town, a home that was on the corner of a busy street. Although Mrs. CO had relatives with whom she was close, she had no children and her relatives lived far away. So when the police asked for someone to call, she gave them Ken’s name.
Ken didn’t know much about what had happened, only that he was to immediately go to the hospital.
Ken left. I sat on the couch and waited for him to call with details. Outside, the thunder roared across the sky. (Without cell phones, calling was more of a challenge.) After a couple hours, I turned on the radio to the local station – a station I never listened to, so I had to do several twists and turns up and down the dial to find anything. Finally, I heard that an attacker had broken into the home of an elderly lady and broken her nose.
Five-thirty came and my kids sleepily stumbled out to the living room. They both had paper routes at that time and I wasn’t about to let them do them on their own in the storm. So, all three of us got in the car and I drove first one and then the other down the early morning streets. The lightning was still flashing, but looked strange. The flashes were blue in color and hitting low to the ground. I have this clear memory of slowly driving down a particular street with the eerie, blue flashing, the rumbling thunder and the fear of where Ken was and what was happening at the hospital.
Later – we got the story. A man had seen that Mrs. Co was in the house alone (she was standing in front of an uncurtained window. He hid in her garage and when she went to put the garbage out, he grabbed her and threw her into the basement closet. He then took some things, told her he would be waiting for her if she tried to get out – and then took off in her car. He did break her nose – and her glasses. Fortunately, that was all that happened to her. Frightened, she stayed in the closet for a couple hours before she made her way upstairs and called the police.
Meanwhile, the thief took off in her car, got on the expressway and smashed into a tollbooth, totaling the car. He was captured by the police before Mrs. CO even got out of the closet.
Yes, truly one of the scarier nights of our ministry.