I Looked into the Eyes of the Man Who Invaded My Home
Awakened by the sound of breaking glass, I sat up in bed.
Awakened by the sound of breaking glass, I sat up in bed. A stranger’s silhouette appeared on the other side of the smoked glass window in the bedroom door.
For a year, I lived in a villa on the foothills of Mount Etna, above Catania, Sicily. What began as paradise ended up hell. Paradise gained; paradise lost.
Driving up the winding road to our new home, Excitement filled this new chapter of my life. Leaving barracks living behind, I ventured to live on the local economy. Immersion in the culture created some of my fondest memories.
In the blue Sicilian sky, the villa looked like a pink three-layer wedding cake. Like a fortress, a wrought iron and stucco fence with double gates ran across the front of the property. As with many Sicilian homes, a small shrine to the Blessed Virgin protected the household.
Along both sides of the house, a chainlink fenced bordered a small grove. Blood oranges, grapes, and a few pomegranate trees grew there.
Was this a glimpse of Eden?
On hot summer nights, I would go to the top deck three stories up to enjoy the scenery. To the west, Mount Etna billowed smoke. Down the mountain, the lights of Catania speckled the darkness. I gazed up into the dark star-filled sky. The roof became my place to reflect and contemplate. These were my happiest moments
On several occasions, I slept under those stars. One time the wind shifted and Mount Etna dumped ash on top of us. We awakened blanketed in ash. The house, the cars, everything covered.
The Beginning of Sorrows
Four months left in the lease, My girlfriend and I break up on friendly terms. Because we still had several months on the contract, we both continued to live in the villa.
My ex and I were in an airtight rental agreement. If we broke the contract, it would cost us dearly. I lived at the villa for the duration.
The other two roommates also broke up. They both moved back to the barracks. With only the two of us paying rent, money became tight.
With about three months left on the lease, she moved in with her NEW boyfriend but continued to pay here share.
For a while, the ex’s two dogs, our former roommate’s cat, my cuddly cute kitten, and I shared this big house.
The former roommate’s cat, which I loved, went outside one day never to return. I suspected foul play.
Having not returned stateside for two years, I scheduled thirty days of leave. Two weeks before my vacation, the first of several break-ins happened. The thieves stole my Pentax camera, some jewelry, and some other small items easy to carry.
Thank God, The SOB’s left my 24-inch screen television, VCR, Gibson Les Paul, Orange amplifier, pedals, and stereo equipment.
When you come home to find your house ransacked, you feel a range of emotions: anger, fear, and paranoia. You feel violated.
Between paying out the ying-yang to have my car repaired then the home invasion, I almost canceled my trip. My ex and her boyfriend graciously stayed at the house while I went stateside. Did I mention we parted on good terms?
Also, she found another couple to move in. Their stay was short lived.
Temporarily, I left my sorrows behind in Sicily.
While I was stateside, the ex called me at Uncle Sam’s expense to report no more break-ins.
The Boldness of Thieves
Upon my return from the US to Sicily, a friend picked me at the airport. Mind you; I had traveled roughly twenty-four hours with little sleep. Dogged tired, I crashed and crashed hard. I woke up late that afternoon. Something felt wrong. I woke up to find my pants missing. I had undressed and laid my uniform on a chair next to my bed.
I searched for my pants through the house. In another bedroom, I found the door to deck jimmied open. I found my pants and my wallet dumped on the ground near a hole in the chainlink fence. The thief stole the cash but left my license and IDs.
While I slept, someone broke into the house, entered my bedroom, then stole my pants three feet away. Paranoid of another break-in, I developed insomnia. Every little creak woke me up. I hardly slept until after the move.
An Unexpected Confrontation
About two weeks before my move to a single bedroom apartment, I came home one morning after working a twelve-hour night shift. I settled in for much-needed sleep.
Early afternoon, the sound of breaking glass startled me awake. I shook off the sleep and sat up in bed listening. My adrenaline kicked in my senses heightened.
I watched as a stranger’s silhouette moved slowly in front of the smoked glass in the bedroom door.
Adrenalin pumping, indignant anger replaced any residual fear. Now the third time, some nameless, faceless thief assaulted my tranquil place. I suspect that the thieves did not expect anyone to be home during the day. I had the element of surprise.
I watched in anticipation as the door slowly opens. From behind the door, this bushy-haired head creeps around the door.
The shutters pulled down, the room dark, my eyes had adjusted to near cat vision. I could see the thief plain as day. The moment his head breached from behind the door, we made eye contact. I yelled at the top of my lungs,
“Who the hell do you think you are?”
I jumped out of bed, ready for a fight.
Fortunately, the SOB was wearing pants or He might have left a pile for me to clean later. The thieves scurried like roaches exposed to the light. There actions emboldened me. My predatory instincts triggered, I chased after them. Angry beyond measure, I didn’t consider what I would do if I caught them. Or worse, they stopped to fight.
My loose sweat pants fell below my knees. I stumbled. Not to be discouraged, I tied while I ran out of my room down the hall then into another bedroom. The thieves had broken the glass in the door leading out to the deck. Exiting the door, I navigated a turn, then slipped on a pile of glass flew into the railing. Surprisingly, no cuts to my bare feet or injuries to my body.
I wasn’t giving up; I ran to the back. From the back patio, I counted three young men as they exited through the hole in the fence then ran across a field.
I returned to the house, threw on some shoes, then drove my car down several streets to cut them off. I never found the three thieves. They never returned before my move.
After moving, my home invasion blues were no more.
A home a house doth not make.
The villa has many good memories, but I felt nothing but relief when Hello Kitty and I moved into my apartment.
For the life of me, I can’t remember that cat’s name. Cut me some slack. That was 1984.