. . . a nation-state of my mind . . .

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I was in college at the University of Mississippi. It was maybe my junior or senior year, and I had come home for a weekend break. I was at home alone at my mother's house. I had been invited to a party and was running a bit late. I needed to take a quick shower, get dressed, and get going.

My mother's small house on Jackson Avenue had two bedrooms at the back, with a bathroom in between them. There was a short hallway leading to the bathroom, with a linen closet about halfway down the hall. Since I had gone off to college, my younger brother Jay had taken over one bedroom. My mother had the other. When I came home, I usually slept on a couch in the den and stashed my clothes in the den closet.

Since no one was in the house this day, I shucked off my clothes in the den, then walked to the bathroom to take a shower. When I finished my shower, I realized that I had forgotten to grab a towel on my way to the bathroom. I was getting ready to make a dash to the linen closet when I heard a voice calling my mother's name, Nettie. I recognized the voice as my mother's good friend, Lillian Edwards, and I could tell she was coming in the back door, which was almost always unlocked.
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Me, front and center, clothed,
with the Edwards / Ferris Families

My immediate impulse was to call out to her, but for some reason I stopped. Lillian was a sweet lady but something of a chatterbox, and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get away from her in time to make the party. I thought that since she didn't know I was home, and no one else was in the house, she would just leave, and I could go on about my business. So I quickly ducked into my mother's bedroom and closed the door.

I heard her call out "Nettie” once again as she came into the house. Then I heard her speak to another person, her daughter, who was three or four years older than I was. I heard Lillian say, “Maybe she's taking a nap.” That meant she was heading for my mother's bedroom. What to do? I couldn't suddenly speak up. Why hadn't I answered before?

I decided to duck into my mother's closet, thinking they would come into my mother's bedroom, see that she was not there taking a nap, see that there was no one in the house at all, and then they would LEAVE. Then I heard Lillian say, “Maybe she left it in the closet.” I learned much later that they had come over to pick up a dress that my mother wanted to give to Lillian's daughter. It was going to be quite a shock for them to open that closet door in a completely empty house and find a stark naked man standing there, dripping wet. What to do?

I decided to hold on to the door knob and hope they would think the door was locked. There was no lock of course; it was a closet. I felt Lillian pull on the door, then say to her daughter, “I think it's stuck.” She pulled harder but I managed to hold on. Then they both started pulling. I could hold Lillian off, but both of them was much more difficult. They were starting to get the best of me! I couldn't take it any more and finally shouted “I'm in here!”

There was complete silence on the other side. They both turned and left the house without saying a word.