At precisely 5:33 pm, Friday afternoon of June 4, 2010, my heart stopped beating. I was facing a bear, a black, shiny, healthy medium-sized live bear. And I was not at a zoo. I was in a house.
Clad in my red and black plaid flannel pajamas, I was cloistered away, alone in the lower level of our friends’ mountain home. This particular Friday afternoon, I was burrowing in for a marathon of Gunsmoke TV shows.
Suddenly, my solitude was disrupted by a monster-sound, like an 18-wheeler driving around above me. Nothing could possibly have prepared me for the shock about to unfold. Dashing upstairs, I froze in horror when I discovered my Interruption was a B l a c k B e a r. There we were, just the two of us. I was frozen; he was moving.
Propelled by adrenaline, I turned on a dime and fled downstairs. My singular aim in life was to make it to the room below before he did. Frantically, I shoved the coffee table to block the double doors, and quickly snatched up heavy iron bookends to wedge underneath the doors. I was absolutely certain he was right behind me, and I was desperately driven to build a fortress of protection.
Like a needle stuck on an old phonograph record, the words from 2 Timothy 4:5 kept pounding in my brain: “Keep your head in all situations. Keep your head in all situations. Keep your head in all situations.” Nonstop. I needed to keep my head…Life’s Little Instruction Book never mentioned what to do when confronted with a bear in the house. I was vacillating between panic and planning. What should I do, and in what order?
I put my ear to the door, to see if I could hear him breathing on the other side. No. Whew. Call for help. Debby, call for help. That thought was next. A bear has a way of clarifying priorities. Trembling, I reached for the phone. Call 911, call Larry, call the police, call the sheriff, call Barney Fife. Call anybody. Call anybody but your mother. This would not be a good time to call Dorothy Faye.
I dialed Larry. Of course his phone went to voicemail. Grrrrr. “LARRY, THERE IS A BEAR IN THE HOUSE!! There is a bear in the house. COME HOME IMMEDIATELY!! I said, "There is a bear in the house!”
Ok…Call security. Beep, beep, beep. Automated recording… “You need to first enter the correct prefix.” Another Grrrrr. Call 911…No, no. Don't do that. I do not want a siren. Oh, I think there is an internal number to the office I dialed this morning. What was it?? Try 997. Yes! A human voice. YES!
Taking a deep breath...clearing my throat...forcing myself to s. o. u. n. d. calm, I reported, “This is House #9. There is a bear in the house. Please come quickly. I am locked in the room downstairs. I said, There is a bear in the house!” For some reason I felt compelled to repeat myself.
An eternity passed before I finally heard multiple, official-sounding, human voices above me. Only when I was certain Larry was standing at my door, did I venture to make a crack in my self-made fortress.
I hated to emerge. My second worst fear, beyond my personal safety, was destruction in the house. I had the sickest of feelings in the pit of my stomach as I cautiously stepped out. If the bear had not reached me, he must have made mincemeat out of everywhere else. I dreaded seeing the destruction.
Not the case. There was no damage to the house, not even a scratch. WHEW. The garbage cans were strewn about the drive, and chaos was in the kitchen. But he was gone. Would you believe, he had opened the living room door from the inside, and let himself out?
The police, armed with high-powered pellet guns, made a thorough search of the home, and officially pronounced: "THE BEAR IS GONE." Now we could rest knowing our uninvited guest was not hiding in a dark corner of the attic or holding up in a closet in the basement. I appreciated the affirmation of the security officers which commended me for doing exactly what I should have done: closed myself in the room below, and called for help. If only they knew...
So there you have it. After all is said and done, it is just a One Act Drama played out on the stage of life. I faced a bear and lived to tell you. Davy Crockett has nothing on me.