2007: Open at Midnight

“On [Lot 22], because Sal was the only boy, I built a strong relationship with him…I always saw him as like the white knight…because he always had that, ‘I’ll take care of it’ mindset. He was always real quick to figure out what to do about stuff. He never panicked. He’d always think, ‘I heard something, I’m not familiar with it, and I’m not taking a chance with it.”

– Mom


Deborah was awake. “What the hell was that?”

She threw the covers off her legs and hurried downstairs. The house was dark against the minuscule illumination of the nightlight bulbs. Within this darkness, the house was unsettling. Something was wrong.

Sal met her in the kitchen. “You heard it, too?”

“It woke me up,” she said in panic.

“It was the garage door,” he said.

“You didn’t open it?” she said.

“No, I was in the living room watching TV.”

“Okay.” Deborah reached into the silverware drawer, pulling out the sharpest blade.

“Paul has a remote to the door, Mom.”

“Yeah, but he wouldn’t be showing up after midnight, Sal.”

Sal was at the door leading to the basement. It was suddenly the flimsiest piece of wood between them and whatever danger was lurking on the other side of it. He twisted the knob as Deborah joined his side. They flipped on the light at the top of the stairs and Milo took the lead down into the garage.

Crickets were pulsing rhythmically against the dark of night. They could be heard clear as day now that the garage door was hanging wide open. Deborah peeked her head out while Sal checked the sub-basement. The street was quiet. No passing cars, the houses all peacefully asleep. Every house had an angelic porch light guarding them, and even though Deborah’s light burned bright, prickles of a phantom chill crawled on her arms and neck. No light outside the house was going to fend off an intruder if they were already inside.

She came back in and pressed the button aside the garage door to trigger it closed. Sal came up the sub-basement steps with a shrug.

“No one’s here. Door’s still locked.” He nodded to the outside door leading to the backyard.

Deborah sighed. “Well, the only way this door could have opened is from the inside. The remote Paul gave us doesn’t work, and he has the only other one. So this right here”―she pointed to the control switch―“is the only way.”

Sal and Deborah stood there a few more minutes playing out any other scenarios that could have possible triggered the door to open. Possibly a timer that was set? Or a fault in the wiring. But everything was in order. There was no reason that door could have opened on its own.

“It was loud, though,” Sal said. “I heard it over my movie.”

“It woke me up from a sound sleep,” Deborah said.

“Yeah, but you’re a light sleeper,” Sal said, following her upstairs.

“Now I’m afraid I won’t be able to go back to sleep.” Deborah poured herself a glass of water. “What are you doing up so late?”

Sal shrugged. “Watching TV.”

Deborah glanced at the stove clock. It was one in the morning. “Guess I should try for a few more hours.”

“You can always nap tomorrow since you’re off, Mom.”

“Yeah, I guess. Goodnight. If anything else happens, let me know.”

Sal kissed her on the top of the head. “I will.”

Deborah smiled, knowing realistically he wouldn’t.

Thanks for reading!

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