These are Not the Droids You're Looking For / by Courtney Mehlhaff

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I was planning to watch a neighbor's house while their family was on vacation.

The first day that they were gone, we had a heavy rainstorm, so I decided to just do a general check inside to make sure nothing was leaking or awry.

I was prepared to do any number of things in the way of watchfulness and maintenance in their absence -- take in the garbage cans, collect random mail, empty the dehumidifier -- but what I was not prepared for was the 3-ft. tall Star Wars stormtrooper figure stashed around the corner in the basement rec room.

Now, I knew full well their son owned this toy. I'd seen it many, many times. I'd just never been confronted with it by surprise when I flipped on a light in what I desperately hoped was an empty house.

I don't think I screamed like a girl, exactly. It may have been a more primal sound that escaped my lips, somewhere between a shout and a growl. I think I dropped back in a defensive position. You know, in case I needed to battle the  . . . wayward child  . . .  or criminally inclined little person . . . who had broken in and taken over the place in the six hours it had been unoccupied.

That must have been what flashed in my mind during that nanosecond of terror. And honestly, it was almost scarier than seeing a full-sized figure. Because WTF?!

When my heart started again, the profanity started flying, and I conducted my domestic recon mission at light speed. Nothing like an extra shot of adrenaline to liven up your homework.