In our tiny efficiency, as I lay in pitch darkness, my eyes remained open, growing accustomed to the dark. The yellow moon peeked through the window shade. Eerie shadows traveled across the walls and bounced off a tattered chair whenever headlights from cars passed by.
Mama and I shared a narrow bed then. Because my stepdad, Warren had “accidents” in bed at night, he slept on the opposite one from us. Like the sound of a freight train, his incessant snoring rattled my eardrums. Asleep in her underwear, Mama’s gentle snoring came in spurts. Those sounds became my lullaby in the evenings, lulling me to sleep.
But not tonight.
I was never afraid during the night, but with a sense of foreboding I couldn’t shake off, I got up and propped a chair under the doorknob. Time passed. Thump! The chair toppled over and my heart hammered against my chest. Then I heard the knob turn and the door creaked. The hair on my scalp pricked me.
In the dark, I turned ever so slowly, peering through half-closed lids.
The silhouette of Warren’s weird friend crawled, cat-like, on all fours. He inched his way closer. And closer. Warren snorted and rolled over. El Creepo froze. Then he continued his way toward Mama. His hand reached her leg and started feeling upward . . .
With sheer determination, I hopped up, screaming at the top of my lungs. Like a wild animal caught in blinding light, El Creepo jumped and made a beeline toward the door. He crashed into a chair, tripped over the box fan, and then collided with the dresser before hightailing out. Crying and shaken out of my wits, I turned the light switch and called out to my parents in zombie-land, to no avail. It took a long time before I shut my eyes.
The next morning, I gave a full report. With stupefied faces and mouths agape, they attempted to process my words.
“What?” Mama shrieked. “I didn’t hear anything!”
“Mama, he touched you!”
“How did he . . . ?” Warren stammered.
Mama gave him a dirty look. “The door doesn’t have a lock, you dope, remember?”
“Well, you just wait ‘till I see that jerk again,” Warren hinted, getting up to check the knob.
One may think that this frightening episode caused a rude awakening in my party-animal parents. It changed nothing. Sometimes, I think Mama didn’t know what to do with me. Some days she wanted me close. Other days she didn’t.
Excerpt from Chapter 5 in “Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace”
© M.A. Pérez 2017, All Rights Reserved