TG was out of town for much of the last month. He arrived home on Tuesday evening and found that he had been robbed. Someone came in, pushed under the mattress, looked through his wife's drawers (no, not her underwear, her underwear drawer) and jewelry boxes. They left computers, iPads, jewelry behind, and stole a very heavy jar where TG keeps all his change for beach week. (That's the week he goes to the beach with his writer's group, referenced in an earlier blog.) Probably $200.00 to $300.00. Sounds like a kid crime, no? So TG's next door neighbors have keys to his front door and have been picking up the mail and putting it inside. Their son,who will now be referred to as D, 15 years old, is the only one who was around much of the time. On Monday he was playing basketball with his friends Juan and Donald. At one point he went inside to change his clothes. TG figures that's the time the crime happened. TG, after discovering the crime, tells D that the police are going to suspect he and his friends of doing the deed. D swears he had nothing to do with it. At this point it's late, so TG tells D to call his friends and ask them if they know anything. In the morning (Wed.) TG sees D and D says he called Juan and Juan said he did it. He spent the money and the jug (a family heirloom) is somewhere in the back yard where Juan threw it. TG tells D to look around the yard (large, 3/4 of an acre) while TG changes his clothes to help in the search. TG comes back downstairs and lo and behold, D has found the jug! It was behind a tree in the back yard. Took him about two minutes to find it. This, of course, means that either D is one hell of a locator, or maybe he knew just about where that jug was?
An aside. TG is really good friends with these neighbors. Eat at each other's cook outs, take mail in and out when on vacation, keep an eye on each other's houses when away, the usual neighbor stuff. TG knows many of D's friends, though he doen't know Juan or Donald. Oh, yeah, D does not know either Juan or Donald's last name, though Donald is in his class at school.
So TG is loath to immediately call John Law when dealing with a neighborhood problem. TG's local cops can be pretty rough and he's tangled with them a number of timeslf in the past. So TG tells D to call Juan and tell him that TG is pissed and wants his parent's phone number, that if he pays TG the money back and sits down with TG and his parents to discuss the situation TG won't call the cops. D has until 5:00 to get this done. At 5:00 D shows up and says Juan has not returned his call and begs TG to wait till the next day.
The next day, D not having come up with anything new from Juan, TG I calls the cops and gets a massive response, 5 patrol cars roll up all at once, etc. TG calms everyone down and begins dealing with a detective. Nice guy. TG spends the day on this bullshit and eventually D shows up and the detetctive questions him. D gives his usual story. Cop asks for Juan's phone number. Whatta ya know, D's phone "cut out" last night and wiped out part of his phone numbers, Juan's included. He doesn't know where Juan lives, exactly, just the general area. Eventually D leaves and the cop and TG agree, it looks like D is our man. This is upsetting to TG because it's about to change what has been a years' long relationship with these neighbors. OK, hang in there, TG is getting to the funny part.
TG has a weird skin condition. Probably picked up in Nam, probably has something to do with Agent Orange. At any rate, it crops up every once in awhile and one thing that helps is to slather TG's skin with mineral oil. So on this particular morning, TG slathers his body with oil. and then figures, what the hell, there's no one around, so why not walk around naked until the stuff dries. Eventually, TG is sitting outside on his screened in porch, naked as a jay bird, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper, when he hears voices from the side of the house, in the driveway, which TG can't see. He realizes instantly that, A. the thief has returned either to pick up the coins stashed somewhere in the back yard, or B. the thieves have returned to rob the house because as far as they know, TG is still on vacation, and C. TG is completely naked! TG is tough, but even he finds it really difficult to fight in the nude. Yes, sure, the Spartans did it, but these are modern times. TG leaps up, dashes through the sliding glass door, (after opening) runs upstairs and pulls on jeans, T-shirt and sneakers. TG dashes back downstairs, outside onto the screen porch but there's no one there. Pant, pant. TG comes back inside and notices, in a half second, out the window on the other side of the house that there's someone, male, black, looks young, wearing a white T-shirt, black jeans and he's carrying a red plastic cup. He's walking through TG's side yard away from the house.
TG runs to the front door to grab his axe handle, (main weapon of self defense) and of course someone has moved his axe handle, TG finds it, leaps out onto the front porch and there's no one there. TG runs around to the side of the house, ditto, the miscreant has run off.
No luck. The kid is no where to be found.
That night, TG is going to bed and wifey goes next door and suggests that the father go on the Net and find the son's Verizon account and the calls coming in and out. Great idea, since one could then find the call to the mysterious Juan, the perpetrator, when D called and heard him confess, on Tuesday evening. Remember, D has said, to the detective while being interviewed that his phone "cut out" and there is no more phone number for Juan. Convenient, no? So the father does so and hands the list over to TG, who now has a list of phone calls from the Internet from the kid's phone three weeks old. (Can't get anything more recent than that.) ITG starts with the first number and goes to one of the reverse phone book sites on the net. TG doesn't want to spend any money on this, but he knows from past experience if you screw around with it you can get at least the first one free. So he gets a hit, a Lavern Cash right in the neighborhood. TG thinks, why not do a cross search with Juan and Cash? Bingo! there's a Juan Cash at the same address. TG has found the mystery thief.
So TG calls the detective, and he picks up and TG tells him of his brilliant sleuthing which is met with dead silence. TG says, jokingly, hey, detective, how about a little kudos here for cracking the case. The detective says, distractedly, Oh, yeah, good job, it's just that I'm in the middle of a shooting here and can't really pay close attention. TG, chastened, imagines bullets whistling overhead. The detective says to print everything out (already done, chief!) and he'll be over later tonight when he can break free.
Is D innocent? TG has got so say, he thought that the Juan business was complete bullshit. But but he doesn't believe in coincidences. TG drives by the address he has for Juan Cash, the perps house and there's a car up on jacks out front. And if that isn't a sign of criminality TG doesn't know what is.