83: The Man on the Porch

83: The Man on the Porch

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?

The Man on the Porch

A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of.

~Ogden Nash

A beautiful, late spring afternoon was developing here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, known as “Green Country” to the locals due to the generous rainfall we receive each year. But towards evening, the skies took on an eerie grayish-green tint and it looked as if we would be drenched at any moment. The wind howled as the windows shook in response to thunder rolling in.

Our St. Bernard, Bart, hated storms so he was safe in his bed in our attached garage while our two Bichon Frises were snuggled up with my husband and me in our bedroom. Severe thunderstorm warnings kept interrupting regular scheduled network programming. Both of our Bichons began growling in tandem with each clap of thunder as the storm got closer and louder.

When you live in Northeastern Oklahoma, you become accustomed to the storms and you can sometimes see and hear the beauty in them. There can even be something strangely peaceful about the lullaby of a thunderstorm at bedtime.

We had gone to bed around eleven but I was unable to sleep, so I got up and went into the living room to read. I hadn’t yet turned on a lamp, and that’s when I saw the moving shadow on our back porch.

Oh my Lord! It was a man! He was almost six feet tall and pressing his horrid face against our French doors, peering directly into our pitch-dark living room, where I, in my nightgown, found myself peering right back at him!

I screamed.

The man continued staring directly at me, not even fazed by my scream.

When lightning flashed, I saw his terrifying shadowy body, not fifteen feet in front of me. I screamed again, having failed to scare him off, raise the dead, or wake a sleeping husband the first time.

My husband finally woke up and stood at the doorway to our bedroom, looked into the living room and asked me what in the world was wrong. I explained to him that clearly there was a man on the porch, looking right in at me!

“Look! He is out there! Right now! Look!”

In his recently wakened state my dear husband looked at me and dryly announced, “I don’t see anyone.”

There was a man on our porch looking into our house! What else did I need to report? The color of his eyes?

Dale then disappeared back into our bedroom, and I called 911.

As soon as Dale left the room, the man appeared again, pressing his face against our French doors, staring at me. This time, I actually saw the whites of his eyes as he cupped his hands around his face and leaned into the door, as if trying to push it open! Then he began banging against the door with his fists! My Lord, this man was going to come right into this house!

He was wearing dark clothes and had his stringy, red hair in a ponytail. He was soaking wet, had a beard, and his face was just ghastly. The hairs on my neck stood up as I prepared for a break-in.

I saw the rugged silhouette of his body against the darkness, as lightning dispatched shadows on the wall and thunder added even more drama to the scene unfolding before my very eyes.

Seconds seemed like hours while I waited to hear sirens, and to see the police who could catch this man and arrest him!

By now my two Bichons were barking ferociously at the man, as I looked around for something to pick up, so I could defend them if he came in.

I prepared myself for the sound of breaking glass.

I screamed again. “Dale! He is right here! On the porch! Looking at me right now!! COME BACK IN HERE NOW! HE IS HERE, RIGHT NOW! He is about to break in!”

By the time my husband returned to the living room the man was gone again, and this was beginning to look like a bad remake of Midnight Lace with Doris Day while Rex Harrison delivered his creepy line into the telephone, “Mrs. Preston, I’m going to kill you Mrs. Preston.”

It was at that exact moment the man looked into the living room again, and this time, I got a good enough look at him to identify him. I had seen this man before!

This time, my husband saw him too! (I’m not crazy! I’m not crazy!)

But by now the man had divulged yet another distinguishing attribute.

He barked.

Bart, our St. Bernard who had ridden out many thunderstorms in his favorite place, our garage, was so frightened by the thunder that he had jumped up and hit the garage door button, thus opening the overhead garage door.

Then Bart took himself on a little walk around the front of our house, all the way to the covered back porch where he stood on his hind legs and peered into the living room. He stood nearly six feet tall.

Bart was a dry-mouth St. Bernard with a slim face. Though he didn’t have the famous St. Bernard jowls, he did have red hair and a beard. He had pressed his paws on either side of his face as he looked into the living room, no doubt trying to get me to let him inside. After all, invisible thunder monsters were out there and trying to get him.

After we determined that Bart was “the man on the porch,” Dale let him inside, all 140 wet pounds of him.

I called the police back to let them know we had apprehended the “burglar,” and were drying him off with a beach towel.

I scolded him saying, “Bart! You scared Mama!”

I swear to you as I live and breathe, this giant dog looked over his shoulder at me and doing his best Rex Harrison impersonation, said, “Mrs. Preston. I’m watching you Mrs. Preston.”

He wagged his bushy tail ever so slightly as he sauntered to the safety of our bedroom with my husband. It was still storming hard outside and Bart knew that his frightening experience had earned him a place to sleep in our bedroom for the night.

~Robin Pressnall

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