Friday, April 27, 2007

Arrested Development

As promised many moons ago, here is a tale of youthful indiscretion. I grew up as a city kid. Decent neighborhood, close to the train tracks, and pretty sure but not too smug that I was on the correct side of 'em. Our house was where all the friends gathered, because my mom didn't mind the noise and bustle of lots of high-energy younglings, and loved to feed us whatever was in the fridge. "A block of Velveeta? No? How about some 3-week old pea soup? C'mon, have a Twinkie." She would always (eventually) manage to serve something. In the summer of my 13th birthday, my country-boy friend Dan came for a weekend sleepover. We hung out at school, and I'd been to his house where he showed off his closet full of camouflage clothing, a large collection of knives, and stacks of some kind of military/ boy scout magazines. His fondest dream would be to attend military boarding school. He was militia material before it was popular. He came over, dropped his duffel bag, and reached in to retrieve a Crossman lever-action BB gun. He had a little milk carton full of BB's, and filled the chamber. We immediately set out into suburbia looking for targets. It was a midsummer night, which in West Michigan is characterized by late sunsets - it can remain bright until after 10PM - and beautiful warm weather. We stalked the ubiquitous pigeons, but they proved too wily for shooters of our caliber. We tried shooting at each other, and after we each got pinged in the ankle, that lost its appeal. Walking down the street, Dan hit on a brilliant idea: Car hubcaps. They make a satisfying clank like a muted railroad crossing bell, and did no damage. At least, not the kind that would be visible enough to get us in trouble. We strolled the neighborhood as the sun set, turning the blue sky a bright cobalt color, yellow streetlights humming to life. Plink! Thud! Plank! Goink! We were getting pretty good at hitting the mark. We decided to graduate to moving cars. What could possibly go wrong? There was a church across the street from my house, and on the other side of the church there was a fairly busy road. The large, orange brick modern-gothic building had a row of dense juniper bushes a comfortable distance from the wall, and we crawled in and hid ourselves. We took turns plinking at cars, listening for the sound of a bullseye. It was Dan's turn to shoot, while I amused myself tormenting a June bug in the dirt. He shot. I heard tires squeal. "Oh shit oh shit oh shit!" I heard him breathe. I couldn't see what the problem was, but I could tell it was bad, for there were voices emerging from the car. Voices belonging to 5 large young men, who were clearly agitated over something. My view was obstructed, but I was pretty sure they stopped because of something Dan did. Dan argued that we should run for it, they were occupied looking at the damage. I firmly refused, for we were well hidden and would never be found. Just then I found myself levitating, miraculously several feet off the ground. We cleared the bushes and nearly bumped heads as I realized one extremely strong guy had both Dan and me by our belts, weighing us like so much produce. I immediately burst out with "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Don't kill us!" while Dan was trying to pin the blame on the guy who was walking down the opposite sidewalk. In an extreme twist of good fortune, one of his buddies came running out of a neighbor's house yelling, "Don't beat 'em up! I just called the cops!" Moments later, two of Grand Rapids' finest rolled up and we were saved. Sort of. In handcuffs, in the back seat, the interrogation began. I said I didn't even know what happened. The officer trained his searchlight on the back window of the car. The entire window had shattered like teevee snow, because of one tiny BB lodged in the lower right corner. Oopsie. The cops wrote up a report, saying they'd have to bring us in and hope we each had someone to come and get us or it would be a long night. I pleaded with Officer Friendly to bring us home, right across the street practically. He was having none of that. On the way downtown, we were presented with a number of scenarios involving little old ladies dying from fright and mean, angry men who don't mind punching children. Very solemn stuff. At the jail, we were deposited in the drunk tank. It was vacant on our side, but there was a bona fide smelly and ragged drunk man in the next cell. I nonchalantly asked, "What are you in for?" He grunted, farted, and fell over. Dan's mother came to get him first. She was extremely vocal. And loud. Dan hunched his shoulders and tried to discretely protect his ears as he slunk out a few feet behind her. An hour later, my dad arrived. That was the longest ride of my life, going the 25 minutes home in stony silence, except for this: "What on earth possessed you to do that?" We each got cited for Misdemeanor Malicious Destruction of Property and $250 restitution, which ate my entire summer's worth of paper route profits. You would think I would have learned my lesson.

1 comment:

kenju said...

Being of the female persuasion and also due to growing up in the 40's and 50's, I never got into any bad trouble. The worst was putting raw eggs (broken ones) into mailboxes at Halloween. After having to wash out a few stinky boxes, I did learn my lesson...LOL