In my continuing mini-series of Halloween-related posts, today I’m going to write about another time I probably should have been more scared than I was …
I grew up in a pretty tame neighborhood in Edmonton. We rarely had problems with vagrants, and with our husky living outdoors all year round, the vandals that would damage cars parked by the alley had all but stopped as their presence was detected by the super nose of our dog and his barking alerted everyone that something was wrong. So when my mum asked my older sister and me to run to the store to pick up some stuff she was running out of, no one thought twice about it.
I would have been around 10 or 11 at the time, my older sister in high school. And like any girl her age, she came with a bit of an attitude when required (or sometimes when not required). Dad was out back, pretending to work on the car, as the house was full of women celebrating either a bridal shower or a baby shower. We walked past him and asked if he needed anything and headed off down the alley. It was early evening, so still light out, and the three blocks to the store would be no bother.
We were into the second block when two alleys merge in a T intersection. My sister and I were talking, as somehow she didn’t mind being lumped with her little brother, when this red truck speeds up the other alley and nearly hits us both, as it turned into the alley we were in. My sister lets fly a verbal assault that teaches me some interesting combinations of words and phrases. I had heard swear words before, of course, but never used quite like this. And when she finally ran out of breath, she finished off her salvo with a beautifully placed middle-finger salute towards the truck. That’s just how she did things!
As she was asking me if I was all right (she had dragged me off the road a bit when the truck turned), the truck had stopped in front of us. We both looked to see the driver get out. I cannot remember what he looked like. He must have been that non-descript that nothing about him stood out. My sister decided to let fly with more insults as he stood by the box of his truck. He then reached into it and pulled out an object. It was an axe. He took a step towards us.
My sister just pushed me towards the nearest yard and yelled, “Run, Geraint.” I didn’t need any more prompting. I took off. I leapt the yard’s 5 foot tall fence, only needing one spring to get my right foot half way up the fence and then propel myself over. It was the most agility I’ve ever shown. My sister didn’t bother jumping, she pretty much took the fence off its hinges and we ran through some stranger’s yard getting to the main street.
We turned left and headed towards home. My sister constantly yelling at me to run, my head constantly telling my legs to run faster. As only big sisters can, she stayed with me, even though she could have probably lapped me her stride was much bigger than mine. As we turned down the corner to get to our house, the red truck raced by on the main street, the driver yelling “RUN” out the window, stretching the word that he wanted to instill more fear in us.
Our house was second in from the corner. I ran right through the front door into the house and headed for mom (mom’s favorite after all). My older sister went straight around the back to get dad (dad’s favorite at that time).
After we had calmed down, dad and my sister drove to the store together. In the following weeks, I went looking for that truck when I would make my way home from school. Many of my school friends lived in the same neighborhood but hadn’t remembered seeing a red truck like that. I never did see that truck again.
I have no idea what would have happened. The realist in me says nothing. The realist in me says he just wanted to scare a full-mouthed teenager and her little brother. And he probably did just that. Although when I look back, maybe I should have been a little more scared than I actually was. But the writer in me, the one who thrives on making up stories, knows that also in the back of that truck were a couple of large lidded pails where it would have been easy to keep dismembered kids to feed his komodo dragons when he got home!