The power was out and there was an intruder in the ravine behind her house.
Her whole body was tingling and she waited for the feeling to pass before reaching for her cell and speed dialing Nan’s number. She picked up immediately.
“Hey, I was just about to phone you.”
“There’s an intruder in my yard.”
Nan gasped. “I’ll phone 911 and be right over. Make sure the doors are locked.”
“Please, no police, Nan. Just hurry over. We’ll talk when you get here.”
She knew better than to argue. “I’ll be right there.”
Hailey flipped the cell shut and inched her way along the wall, feeling for the sliding lock on the patio doors and found it tightly secured.
She breathed a sigh of relief. Keeping an eye on the yard, she backed toward the kitchen, her right hand extended behind her.
Pulling open the top drawer, she felt for the big carving knife, extracted it from its case and held it out in front of her.
Her confidence returned.
Despite the assurance of the murderous knife clenched tightly in her hands, it was a nerve-wracking ten-minute wait in the dark before Nan finally arrived.
To her dismay, when she opened the door, she saw her friend with a policeman.
The man was in his early thirties, tall and athletic looking—he was wearing a hat but Hailey could glimpse enough of his scalp to see his hair was dark but cut so short he probably looked bald. She hated the look.
Before she could utter a word, Nan blurted out, “I know you said no police, but Brad here is my neighbour and he was just getting home from his shift when you called.”
Brad nodded and added in a deep, authoritative voice, “You really shouldn’t try to handle something like this on your own.”
Hailey stared at him. He had a strong jaw and regular features and was handsome in a rugged kind of way.
She relented. “Okay. Come on in.”
He shook his head. “You two stay inside. My dog, Star is in the SUV and I’ll use him to help me search the ravine behind your house.”
He waited until both women were safely inside before heading back to his vehicle. He figured the intruder had probably fled, but hoped Star could pick up a scent and possibly track him down.
Meanwhile, Hailey and Nan peered out the patio doors, catching occasional glimpses of flashlight glare as Brad and Star patrolled the grounds searching for clues.
Twenty minutes later, Brad was back, knocking at the front door.
Hailey invited him in and seated him on a kitchen stool with a coffee, listening intently, while he recounted his findings.
“There’s no one out there now, but there were footprints and Star followed the scent to the side street where the trail ended. The guy probably drove off in a car.”
“I guess that rules out someone local, like a neighbourhood peeping tom,” Hailey concluded.
“I’d say that’s a smart deduction,” he replied, “but I was holding out for a trespassing neighbour.”
Nan frowned. “So, you’re saying some wacko drove here in a storm specifically to target Hailey?”
“I wouldn’t leap to that conclusion,” he cautioned. “We don’t know the guy’s motives. All we know is someone drove here and ended up in the backyard. Anyway, why would you think Hailey was being targeted?”
“She’s been getting weird phone calls.”
He raised an eyebrow and Hailey sighed and reluctantly gave in. “She’s right—I’ve gotten several crank calls—no voice, just someone breathing.”
“You’re sure it’s not a wrong number?”
“I might have thought so if it weren’t for the weird caller ID. It read, U.R. Dunn (416) 929-2017.—that was the date of the first call—September 29—you know, nine twenty-nine, twenty seventeen”
He gave Hailey a grim look.
“Cute. This guy knows something about ID spoofing.”
She looked puzzled. “What’s that?”
“It’s a method used by private investigators and police to disguise their caller ID—it makes their number untraceable. Lately though, it’s been used by telemarketers—even private citizens can use the service for a fee.”
“It sounds illegal,” Nan fumed.
“It’s a gray area of the law and if the caller uses a disposable cell, the calls are virtually untraceable.”
Nan threw up her arms. “Great.”
“The only real question is, who would go to all that trouble to harass someone?” He looked at Hailey.
“I have absolutely no idea,” she sighed.
“You really need to make an official report. I came out tonight, as a favor to Nan, but this looks serious. You could be in real danger.”
“I’ll consider it, but I really do appreciate you and Star coming to my rescue.”
“Why don’t we drop by again tomorrow afternoon and check things out? You can meet Star and thank him in person.”
“Sounds good. Does he like soup bones?”
“They’re his favorites.”
“Then, I’ll make sure he gets a big one.”
“He’ll love you forever,” he laughed.
“Well, I guess I’ll see the two of you tomorrow.”
Nan also got up to see him out. “Thanks for helping tonight, Brad. You won’t have to drive me home—I think it’s best for me to stay over tonight and keep Hailey company.”
“There’s no need,” she protested.
“Save your breath. You can drive me home in the morning.”
“I think it’s a good idea,” he nodded. “Also, you should purchase a motion-activated floodlight for your yard—it was pretty dark out there.”
“Okay, okay. I’ll do all of the above—although a security light wouldn’t have helped much tonight with the electricity out.”
“The lights also are available with battery back-up, in case of power failures.”
“Argh! I give up. Okay. I guess I’ll see you and Star tomorrow then.”
“We’ll drop by just after three.”
She saw him out and closed the door, just as the lights came back on. “Well, things are looking up,” she said, drawing the dead bolt.
“I’ll say,” Nan smiled mischievously.
“Oh no, you don’t,” she stopped her, “Brad’s involvement here is strictly professional.”
“Involvement is the operative word. He likes you.”
“Enough! I don’t feel like debating this—we’ve both had an exhausting experience. Let’s call it a night. You can sleep in the spare bedroom.”
“Fine. We can chat over breakfast,” she purred sweetly.
Hailey rolled her eyes, turned and stomped up the stairs.
“You two would make a good couple,” she shouted after her.
There was an irate grumbling from somewhere overhead, followed by a slamming bedroom door.
She likes him , she smiled.
© 2017, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.