The Intruder



But maybe I am on reality TV. It could happen!

I live by myself in an apartment complex. My children do not approve, but since I can manage myself, they cannot manage me.

At night, I usually spend one or two hours watching television until it starts watching me.

One night, laughing at the antics of the inept Fraidy Thief, I suddenly realize I am not alone. There is an intruder, a young man who looks almost exactly like the Fraidy Thief in the movie I am watching, dark glasses and all.

I see the gun in his hand, but strangely I am not afraid. Instead, I ask him if he is the Fraidy Thief in the movie. Maybe I am on reality TV. It could happen! He turns off the set and looks at me in disgust, obviously convinced that I am senile and probably a waste of his time.

“Where’s the money?” he asks.

I start to get up, but he waves the gun. I tell him it’s in a book on the dresser.

“In a book?” he asks, more disgust in his voice.

He goes over to the dresser, yanks the book and a few notes float to the ground. There’s only J$3000 to pay the day's worker who helps me with housework. He counts it

"That's all? he asks.

"I don’t have any more."

"Where's your purse?"

"In the top drawer of the dresser."

He takes the purse, turns out the contents and snorts at the few coins which he quickly discards.

“Where's the bank book," he asks, as if we have mutual funds. I only stare at him

“How much in it?"

I don't know," I say. “I’d have to go online to check it.’

“Online?” he asks, puzzled.

“On the Internet.”

He still looks puzzled. I wonder about his education.

“The computer,” I add

“Oh,” he says. “Oh yes, I see that ad where you don’t have to go inside the bank to do your business anymore.”

He doesn’t look much older than my 18 year old grandson. Surely he should know all about the computer and the Internet. I have a feeling he is new at this. He is nervous. He is sweating.

“Which bank you use?”

I tell him.

“Go on your computer, find out how much you have.”

The PC is right beside me. I turn it on, while he looks around the room.

“How did you get in?” I ask. I have three locks on each door.

“The door wasn’t locked.”

I'm getting careless, I think.

I wonder if I could email somebody for help. I am not into IM so I wouldn’t even be able to find somebody online, and, many people don’t read their emails right away.

He comes and stands behind me.

"Why's it taking so long?’ he asks.

“So it stay, sometimes,” I tell him. "It's old, like me."

He doesn't laugh. I am stalling for time. I would like to help him get out of this with a clean slate. I don’t think he means to hurt me, and I don't want him to go to jail. He is somebody's grandson.

"Why're you doing this?" I ask.

"No questions. Hurry up!"

I am not going to lecture him. Young people hate lectures. I am hoping that the computer will say, as it sometimes does. Error Unable to connect to account. But, of course, it doesn't. The balance is J$30,005. My children had deposited my monthly allowance. This figure seems to satisfy him.

"So, how you get the money?" he asks.

"I have to go to the ATM."

He looks me up and down. "You still drive?"

I hesitate, then I nod. I now know how to get us out of this situation. I don’t want him to be caught. I don’t want him to go to prison.

"Get your keys. We're going for the money, now."

I have trouble standing – arthritic knees. He sees me struggling and helps me up with his free hand.

I get a set of old keys from a drawer. The cars in the complex are usually parked close together. I know that my neighbour's car alarm starts squawking at the lightest touch. A couple of cars have been stolen from the compound recently. If I try to put a key in his lock, the alarm will alert the security guard, my neighbour and others in the complex. They will all come running, and my intruder will have to run away.

They won’t have any trouble believing that a senile old woman forgot that she no longer owns a car. The rusty keys will be proof enough. They'll call my children. They'll say I can no longer live on my own, but they can’t manage me. I can manage myself.



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