I fished in the pockets of my running shorts for the key. Not there. I felt urgently for the key. Still nothing. I groped urgently for the key. Nothing.Then I turned the pockets inside out, saw the hole and understood that I was locked out.

I did not panic. Yet. I simply retraced my steps, face down. I had just finished running from our new apartment near the bridge in Knightville to Bug Light and back. It was a pleasant Monday in early May, and I thought I could spot the key since the path was paved.

As I retraced my steps, I began to feel the first stirrings of panic. I strained to remember exactly where I crossed each street and what side of the path I had taken.

I arrived at the park–no key. By this time the balmy afternoon had become a chilly evening. And now I did start to panic.

My wife and I had moved from our house in Portland to this apartment just a couple of weeks previously, and we planned to stay here until the house we were building in Falmouth was ready. So we knew no one in the area. We did not even know the other tenants in our building. Complicating matters was the fact that my wife had left that morning to accompany students from Cape Elizabeth to Camp Chewonki, and she would be gone until Friday.

So as I walked back I sifted through various possibilities. I had no phone, no money, no car keys – they were all inside the apartment. I had no way to reach my wife. We did have good friends who lived at Chandler’s Wharf, so I was sure I could walk there and find food, shelter and warm clothes. Then what?

I taught English at Falmouth High School, and inside the locked apartment were papers waiting to be graded and lesson plans to be refined. I really needed to find a way into our apartment. Having lost any hope of finding the key, I studied it from the outside. Our apartment was on the ground floor, but the windows were locked and I would have to destroy a screen and a pane of glass, and even then I was not sure I could gain access to the apartment.

There was a back door to our apartment inside a spacer that connected our apartment to a garage. I entered, but found that door locked. At least it was warmer. I had opened locked doors with a credit card, but I had no credit card. I had brought a few tools and stored them in this space, so I rummaged through them. Nothing was thin or pliable enough to allow me to unlock this door. But, as I studied the door, I felt a sudden surge of hope. The hinges faced me. I found a screwdriver and jimmied the pins up. In a couple of minutes I was inside the apartment and feeling euphoric! I unlocked and replaced the door, took a shower, ate dinner, and started my school work.

But before I did any of that, I threw out those running shorts.

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