Dodged the Joyce Oroz

The old question comes to mind, does art imitate life or does life imitate art? Today I felt like I was living through an episode from “Secure the Ranch.” It all started when I decided to drop off a few things at our local Dragonfly Gallery. Since I volunteer there on Fridays, I had a key and since Kathy wasn’t in town I decided to try out the key and since the gallery has a security system I heard an unusual ticking sound and seconds later found myself being screamed at by an ear-splitting pulsating siren. I rushed outside and sat in my truck wondering what to do. A passer-by told me that the Sheriff’s Deputies would probably be arriving soon. Sweat ran down my face. I never think clearly under stress and lack of action is stressful, so I drove two blocks to the Market and pulled in next to a Sheriff’s car that happened to be parked there.
“Are you on your way to the gallery?” I asked.
“No, why?”
“I accidentally set off the alarm ….”
“The gallery is in Santa Cruz County. I’m San Benito,” he said. I decided to order lunch at the market. While I was there I borrowed a phone book and called the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s department. The nice lady who answered said I did the right thing, but it would be better to call the security company, whoever that is. So I left a message on Kathy’s phone, took my lunch home and hoped for the best. Kathy called a short time later to say she got my message and she had called the security folks. Everything was cool and no guns were drawn.

Excerpt from Secure the Ranch by Joyce Oroz

….Theda’s SUV was not at the cabin. I tried the door. Locked. I pulled out my key and opened the door. The house was quiet except for a soft humming sound coming from the wall beside the front door. Finally, I realized it was coming from a newly installed panel of numbered buttons with a flashing red light. My cheeks flashed red. “Oh my God, what do I do now?”
My cell phone rang. “Ah, hello.”
“Josephine, this is Barry, your insurance agent. Is something wrong?”
“Dang, I mean, Barry, you caught me at a bad time. We have a new alarm system in the cabin where I’m staying and I think I triggered the alarm. How do I turn it off? I don't know the code.” Solow must have sensed my panic and belted out a series of howls, making it difficult to hear Barry’s response.
“Better hope it's not one of those systems that goes straight to the sheriff's office.”
“Did you call the company that installed it?”
“I just got home.” I shouted, over the howling. “Hang on a minute.” I began pressing buttons, combinations of numbers, but with no good result. “Barry, what should I do? I’m pushing buttons, but the red light is still on and so is the humming noise.”
Solow howled urgently. “Quiet!” I shouted. My poor puppy dropped his head down and tucked his tail between his legs, making me feel even worse.
“Barry, are you still there?” Suddenly tires squealed outside, Solow wailed and my heart pounded double-time.
“Call ya later.” I dropped the phone and peeked out the front window just in time to see two deputy sheriffs, guns drawn, crouched behind their white sheriff's car. A rack of red lights revolved in circles, silently, from the roof of the official vehicle.
“Come out with your hands up!” shouted one officer. They had my attention. With legs like Jello, I walked to the door and slowly opened it. Both hands reached for the sky, just like in the movies. Things weren't supposed to happen like this in real life. Sergeant Machuca stepped forward as he holstered his gun, but the other sheriff kept his gun trained on me. Machuca rolled his eyes.
“I see you took my advice and had an alarm put in.”
“I'm sorry to get you up here like this,” I said, “but the door was locked and I don't have the code numbers yet.”
“Just happens we were in the area, no harm done.” Machuca waved at his partner.


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