Based on some recent reports on Next Door of burglary and automobile larceny in our beloved neighborhood, I was reminded of my own experience a few years back... Max Roseway
At first, since he was the last one to drive Gump, I suspected Benjamin. As a high school graduate, Ben often had very weighty things on his mind like whether to register for college or order a quadruple-shot espresso with white chocolate, so I thought he may have forgotten that he drove to wherever he went the previous night and caught a ride with a friend, accidentally leaving the car someplace like Tijuana. Fortunately, I didn’t have far to go to ask him. He was on the couch. Unfortunately, he was asleep which meant that if I wanted coherent dialogue, I might do better talking to a geranium. Nevertheless, I shook him and asked him about the car, to which he answered, “Hrmf-hugmmpraglop?”
“Ben, wake up. Where’s the car?”
“Car? Uh, trrhaplumf!”
“What!?” He was sounding irritated.
“THE CAR, BEN. WHERE DID YOU LEAVE THE CAR?” I was sounding irritated.
“Uhnn, no thanks. Hurrrlneepoop…”
Taurus Gump, Where are You?
Eventually, he became lucid enough to tell me that it was parked outside next to the curb, which it wasn’t. That’s when it became clear that Taurus Gump had been stolen. I don’t know why I was surprised. Bad things happen at the curb in front of our house. Before Taurus Gump became our second car we had a Ford Granada we named Gramps. After a few short weeks, Gramps was murdered at the curb by 4 X 4 pick-up whose driver decided to take a nap while motoring past our house. That made us a one-car family for a while until our Buick, White Lightnin’, bumped Taurus Gump into second place—a distant second. On “Max’s scale of classic cars,” Taurus Gump is a “3” with “10” being a 2015 Ferrari and “1” being the rear bumper of a 1972 Pinto.
Obviously, anybody that would steal a 1989 Taurus with a dented door, crumpled trunk lid, missing windshield wiper, and shish-kabob spring in the driver seat is not your premium grade auto thief. Put another way, if he were any dumber he’d need to be watered twice a week and nourished with Weed ‘n Feed. Whoever it was, had the stereo partially removed before he noticed that Benjamin had reduced the speakers to confetti by playing tapes of something called “rap” which is imitation music recorded by people who talk angrily while rapidly detonating M-80’s in a tiled space such as a men’s room. Once the thief realized that the stereo would fetch about $2.99 on the black market, he left everything but the knobs. As a result, I have added the “Taurus Gump Bandit” to the dumb crook hall of fame. He is right up there with the hapless bozo who pursued his criminal career by trying to rob a bank that turned out to be on the main floor of the FBI building…on payday. The lobby was filled with government agents trying to cash their checks. The good news for law abiding citizens is that if such felons breed among themselves, criminal behavior will be eliminated by natural de-selection.
Taurus Gump Returns
Two weeks later, Taurus Gump turned up southeast of town. As Judy drove me down to retrieve him, I thought about the O. Henry story, Ransom of Red Chief, in which some small-brained kidnappers snatched a little boy who then made their lives miserable until, desperate, they returned him to his father. I also thought about the movie, Home Alone. As I eased myself into Gump’s driver seat, carefully avoiding the sharp spring that jabs through the torn place in the seat cover when you sit down, I wondered if our car had inflicted any physical harm on the thief. I hoped so.
On the way home, I exercised my legendary foresight by stopping at the store to buy an anti-theft device. The sales clerk recommended a sturdy looking apparatus that, when locked on the steering wheel, makes it impossible to drive the car unless you first remove the front seat, windshield and driver-side door, then steer and operate the pedals from the passenger seat. He said it would make my vehicle an “unattractive target.” That, I noted, had been no help to Taurus Gump thus far. Moreover, the device’s cheerful yellow handle would make it by far the most attractive thing about the car. Considering the thief’s room temperature IQ, I wondered if the device might actually inspire thieves to try to remove the aforementioned parts for aesthetic reasons.
Since it was called “The Club,” I figured if the contraption didn’t work I could use it to threaten the sales clerk into giving me a refund, so I bought it. Immediately, it started working. As I tried to walk out of the store, it set off the security alarm.