It was a cute little house, just perfect for our family of four, though we never could have imagined the unwelcome guest that would come to live with us.
We toured it before renting, delighted at the cute covered front porch, with a white wooden railing. Inside we found two bedrooms, a huge farmhouse type kitchen, an upstairs with two rooms, one for storage and a second that could be used as an additional bedroom. One bath, and a small but serviceable basement area for laundry. There was a nice front and side yard, but no back yard to speak of. Behind the house was a ditch which separated the cul-de-sac from the businesses on the main road through the small “town” of Creve Couer, Illinois. We moved into the house in the fall of 1966.
My daughter was three and my son was a year and a half. We added a swing set to the front yard and settled into our rented home.
For the first year, we only had two incidents, though none led us to believe they were anything but natural.
The first was when my daughter had a sudden bout of anger which wasn’t normal for her. She took a toy truck and struck her brother on the head with it. When I corrected her, she started to scream and ran with arms extended to the front glass “screen” door and her arms went straight through it! Glass shattered and her inside wrist began dripping blood. My husband was at work with the car, and thank the good Lord, my neighbor ran over and told us to get in her car and she’d drive us to the hospital.
They wouldn’t allow me to go back with my child while they stitched her arm. She was so little and so frightened and they had strapped her to a papoose type board! I could hear her cries and screams as I leaned against the wall and cried. I wanted to comfort my baby. This was one of the worst times of my life.
But she was all right and we were able to take her home after they stitched her wound. Though this was unusual for my child’s behavior, I still never thought it could have been anything but a strange fit of temper.
My children had been good sleepers, never waking up in the middle of the night unless they were sick. But a few months later, I began to hear strange noises. The house was dark, so I got out of bed and turned on the living room light. I was startled to see my children standing against the wall next to the front door holding hands, their eyes wide and round. When I asked why they were up, they didn’t have any answer.
I settled them back in bed, read them a story, and turned out the lights.
This continued to happen over and over again. My daughter said it was a bad dream. I wondered who had woken who with a bad dream instead of calling out for me to come and help them.
And then a little mouse appeared in the kitchen. Just a mouse, nothing more. But he was too fast to catch and we began to hear him inside the wall. Not too strange, and not too uncommon, I thought. We tried several solutions to catch the mouse, but had to be careful what we used because of the children, especially since they were prone to wander in the dark of night.
Yes, we did finally catch the mouse and the house settled into our “normalcy” again.
Then, things escalated…
(to be continued)