© 2009

Jan Christensen

Something woke Ruth.  The storm door?  It made a loud bang when it closed.  She lay in the dark a moment, but didn’t hear anything.  Feeling uneasy, she reached over to her nightstand and carefully put her hearing aids on.

She thought she heard a drawer close downstairs.  Not loud--she wouldn’t have heard that without the aids.  Someone was in the house!  She grabbed the Edgar Allan Poe bust she kept on top of the small bookcase full of mystery novels.  As she felt her way to the head of the stairs, she heard another drawer close.  Her legs shaking, she crept downstairs until she stood at the bottom.  She peeked into the moonlit dining room and saw Jimmy, the young man who often bagged her groceries at the supermarket, stuffing her best silverware into a pillowcase.

She dashed back to her bedroom where she fumbled on her night table for the phone.  She pushed a number, any number.  The keypad lit up.  Then she dialed 911. 

Someone answered, but she couldn’t understand what they said.  She really should get one of those special phones for the deaf where what the other person said was typed out for her to read on a small screen.

“There’s someone in my house,” she said into the phone.  “A burglar.”  She gave her address and hung up.  She couldn’t understand what the person was asking her, and she wanted to get where she could lock a door behind her.

Still carrying the Edgar Allan Poe bust, Ruth tiptoed to the bathroom.  After turning the bolt, she waited, breathless. She could no longer hear Jimmy.  Perhaps he’d left, and the police wouldn’t catch him.  She wondered if he’d come upstairs, to her room.

After what seemed hours but could only have been minutes, she heard a commotion downstairs, indistinct voices.  Cautiously, she opened the door, and stuck her head out, listening.  Heavy footfalls drummed on the stairs and a man in a police uniform appeared in her bedroom doorway, smiling.  “You can come out now.  We caught him.  We came in the back door where he’d broken in and surprised him.”

That was why she hadn’t heard sirens.  “Oh, thank goodness!”  Ruth threw on a blue chenille robe over her flannel nightgown, put on her mules and followed the police officer downstairs. 

“They say you called them," Jimmy said when he saw her.  "How did you know I was here?  You’re deaf!”

“I just have trouble understanding speech, Jimmy.  I can still hear low noises pretty well without my hearing aids.  You must have banged that old storm door when you came in.  Makes the house shake.  The spring is pretty tight, isn’t it?”

“But . . . but how did you call the police without my hearing you?”

“Oh, that’s easy.  I noticed that you also have a hearing loss and knew you probably wouldn’t hear me call.  So many people deny they can’t hear well. You really should get yourself some hearing aids.  Maybe then you would have realized how noisy you were being.”  Ruth grinned at him.

He muttered something she didn’t catch as they lead him away.

Ruth checked the locks before going upstairs again.  She took off her robe and slippers, removed her hearing aids and went back to bed, Edgar Allan Poe close at hand.  She wondered when other people would start to understand how being hard of hearing really worked.  Maybe she's write a letter to the editor tomorrow to enlighten them.  On the other hand, having poor hearing had helped her catch a thief.  So there, Alfred Hitchcock!

Ruth fell asleep with a smile on her face.