I did see that car. It was a sedan, dark blue or green, shaped like a Crown Victoria, barge-like. It was in my neighbor's drive way, parked at an angle. And when they asked that night if I'd seen anything unusual, the nearly forgotten inconsequential memory was slowly pulled from the brink of extinction. And as I examined the memory, I could see that yes, it looked odd parked that way. It wasn't a familiar car. I even saw someone run inside. So why didn't it raise any alarms at the time?! Why oh why didn't my little Poirot-esc brain cells perk up? My curiosity is so easily peaked, why not this time? Why not this time when some asswipe cleaned out my best neighbors?
I was busy. I was piling the kids in the car. It didn't even register as an event.
The neighbors have a lot of cars coming and going: contractors, piano lesson kids (that's who I assumed it was), heating/cooling guy, painters, sometimes a gardener, perhaps even a cleaning lady, maybe a relative or two. I don't know! It's a parade of cars and I couldn't keep track of them even if I wanted to! And when you park in your garage (instead of stuffing it with tools and toys) I cannot tell if you are home or not. And although I can be very snoopy and when I worked in a law office I was ordered to unleash all my snoopiness (it was great fun!), I don't want to snoop on my neighbors. I don't want to be the one who notices so-n-so's had that same trans-man over every day for the past several weeks and he's not carrying piano books. Certainly we've got the cocaine/gay party house in cognito as a country estate and don't think I'm being judgemental here; I didn't get that knowledge from snooping; 50 cars full of men can't be wrong. But over-all I try to strike a balance between snooping and being alert. And what with getting kids in the car and all, I guess I let the balance tip the wrong direction on Tuesday. And I feel just awful about it.
Although for my own personal safety, that might be for the better. Between fight or flight, when cornered I'm pure fight, apparently. I don't know why. When I was a babysitting teen, one of my charges screamed that someone was looking in her window. So what did I do with that adrenaline? 14 year old Sarajoy took a baseball bat and a flashlight around to secure the property. When a peeping-Tom ran from a shower stall in the Women's locker room at a pool at UW, a soaped up Sarajoy chased him down, OUT of the locker room, THROUGH the pool and nearly out the emergency exit before I realized I was still naked. I don't know what's wrong with me, but it might have kicked in on Tuesday. And the only thing worse the a robbery is a botched robbery cum murder. And they probably have a case of guns already. Because....
The house on the other side of us was robbed recently too. A gun case. A case of guns. That sounds to me like someone knew what they were after. So I wasn't on alert.
This weeks robbery was in broad daylight, during a two hour window. Someone knew someone's schedule a hell of a lot better than I do. And so it seems we are being spied on. And I have that penchant for running around naked. I figure the windows which usually catch me wet, running up from the basement to my room are along the road where people drive fast enough, they won't notice.
With our direct neighbors on either side being robbed, we have a strong sense of "YOU ARE NEXT."
So what's the strategy for a house made almost entirely out of French Doors? Oui Oui. Zee kind wit all zee vindows and zee doors zat "s'ou qui que" when zeey open. Because glass is so breakable, they installed dead bolts that open only with keys. So that if there is a fire, we first have to find the keys to get out and since I've already been through one massive structural fire (in Petersburg, Alaska, took the whole block, but spared the gas station but gave me lasting PTSD), this feels like a very real risk to take. In addition, this thief, which the sheriff informs us has almost finished cleaning out the entire neighborhood (oh! NOW they tell us!), has a special tool to use against dead bolts. It destroys doors. And if a thief came to our house that would be the most expensive thing to replace.
Taking a quick inventory and comparing it to what was stolen from the neighbors: all of my jewelry is plastic, clay, or rock (actual, non-valuable rocks) and fossil. None of our CD players work, nor does our iPod. Our camera, as you must have noticed my now, is broken. Of our two computers, one is running and that is 8 years old. Our TV is from craigslist and is non HD compatible and is attached only to a DVD player, no actual channels or anything. EVERYTHING we own was used when we got it. Goodwill is a revolving door for all of our possessions. It's like dust to dust: Goodwill to Goodwill, or sometimes Value Village to Goodwill, with a short or longish life in our house in between. And an occasional exotic item from Craigslist. So to prevent a broken door, I have been leaving it unlocked. They might have already been through, assessed the potential and left. This is one of the greatest benefits of having nothing anyone envies.
We might have also been passed over because although I adore my old house, in this neighborhood it is obviously NOT the house with the money.
The other reason why we might have been passed over by the angel of theft, is that our house is wide open. Our bereft neighbors have both put a lot of time and money into privacy screens. So that no one can watch them ... um ... live and stuff. Because of the configuration of powerlines and our lack of funds to hire people to constantly trim our trees, we have no privacy. You couldn't break in to our house and NOT have the entire world see it. It's a blessing and curse.
Or maybe it's the mask we picked up in Singapore that's meant to scare off evil and is propped against a window, looking out, menacingly, at all comers, with it's spiritual threat.
Whatever the reason we have been passed over, we still have the feeling that it's just a matter of time.
And then at the feed store today, I asked about all the new security measures. They said they've had huge huge problems with people taking off with LOADS OF HAY! "It's just going to get worse." They said. And then one guys turns out to live near me and he said that his road has had so many thefts there's a sheriff that drives it every day, all day long.
So yesterday, one neighbor notices two trucks parked out front the recently robbed neighbor's house. She parks, she rev's, she maneuvers forward and back to get a look at license plates. She's on her phone. She's in a lather. I know this because I am shoveling out carrots right next to her, not because I have any desire to stand behind my curtains and peek out at everyone with binoculars. And I couldn't figure out why she's doing this. Does she think the thieves came back in their TWO $50K trucks to take ...what? What's left? The Grand Piano and some unders? And they are using power tools on the front door?! And thieves have the ability to BUY $50,000 trucks, two of them? This is just how they make their payments. I mean, let's use our heads here. I can understand that we've all got our road lit up like a football stadium, although the theft took place in the middle of the day. But don't you think these trucks might be the locksmith? Or the contractors coming to repair the door? These thieves aren't going to hang around the neighborhood, much less hit that house again 24 hours later. But I also guiltily felt it as a rebuke, "See, Sarajoy, let me just show you what caring neighbors do!" They snoop, apparently.
We are all uneasy here on Paradise Prairie. Lucky Farm is nervously waiting our turn. Wondering if and when it will come. Wondering if we should lock our doors or just stick the broken laptop on the front porch. Hoping whatever happens, we don't get stuck in the middle of it. That no one is home. It's out of our hands. That delusion of control and our false sense of security is what they've already stolen. It wasn't worth much anyway. I wonder what they'll get for it on the black market?