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My Adventures In A Stolen Car

“Let’s go, Chris!”
“I’m coming!” I shouted in a whisper.

It was the summer of 1992.  I was a teenager.  My best friend, Johnny, had been stealing his step-dad’s shiny new Lincoln Continental every weekend and picking me up at the midnight hour.  In our heads, we weren’t just the cool kids, we were the cool kids that cruised in a stolen car, skateboarded under street lamps and stole street signs as trophies to decorate our rooms.  We were A Clockwork Orange without the killing of vagrants.

Separate, we were eclectic and unique.  Together, we were a creative force.  At school, we competed creatively and fearlessly.  We compared the poetry we wrote to girls we courted, we wrote short stories almost daily, we performed impromptu sketches for our friends, we challenged each other as to who could get the funniest, most outrageous write up slip (reason for going to the principle’s office), then taped them to the inside of our lockers, like game-heads, for all the world to see.

Principles, teachers and even our own parents were mere stagehands in the show of our lives.  We owned the world we had created for ourselves.  We were those invincible teenagers you hear about and we did it all without alcohol or drugs, which made our teenage years all the more real and substantial.  We could remember everything and had nothing and no one to blame but ourselves for our behavior.  We were willing to take responsibility for our decisions because we reveled in them.

As school let out and the summer passed, Johnny had gotten really good at stealing the car and returning it before anyone noticed it had been missing.  That gave us incentive to get our other two good friends in on it.  That’s when it snowballed.  One of them invited his girlfriend and she, in turn, invited two of her girlfriends; our two quickly turned to seven.  These girls were on the high school dance team which meant they were in a completely different social circle.  I’d only seen them in the hallways at school and had never actually spoken to them.  I didn’t know if that would make it more fun or fully uncomfortable but I was excited at the thought of having cute strangers in the car.  We planned the rendezvous and would put it into action a week later.

The night felt different.  We picked our friends up first, then the girls.  Johnny had been late picking us up and our friends decided to bring some booze along for the ride.  While we waited for one of the girls in front of her house, our friends tried to steal things out of her neighbor’s garage, thwarted only by the growl of a St. Bernard.  It all felt forced.

The seven of us were packed in the car.  Johnny drove, I rode shotgun and the girls had to sit on each other in the backseat.
“What is this music we’re listening to?” one of the girls asked.
“It’s, They Might Be Giants.  The Flood CD,” I answered.
“Cool.  I like it,” she said.

About five miles into it, a car behind us flashed its lights and honked its horn.  A hand came out of the driver’s side pointing for us to pull over.
“What the hell is that car behind us doing?” Johnny asked.
We all turned around.
“NO WAY!” one of the girls in the back said, “That’s my brother.”
“What should I do?” Johnny asked me.
“Pull over,” I said, “I’ll take care of this.”
“No, he’s cool.  Don’t do anything.”
We pulled over and he came to the window.
“You have my sister in there, fellas.  I know you guys want to have a good time but I don’t know y’all so I have to take her home.  Sorry.”
“Whatever, lame.  Hey, you’re dad’s here,” Johnny told her.
“I’m soooo sorry, y’all.  How embarrassing,” she said and made her exit.  We giggled as we heard them argue all the way to his car.
“Was he following us the whole time?” our friend asked.
“Look around everybody,”  Johnny said.  “Does anyone else see any cars they recognize before we go?  No?  Good.  Now let’s do some things we’re not supposed to.”
We went on our way and put the music up.  We headed toward the back roads where we’d be less likely to run into anyone.

WHOOOSH!  BAM!

“Holy sheeeet!  What the hell was that?!” they yelled from the back.
A large white owl had struck the windshield.  Marks of the bird were sprawled across the glass.  Johnny and I were stunned.
“That was a giant bird,” I said.
Johnny sighed and pulled the car over.  He got out, put his hands on his hips, then peeled some feathers off the glass.  I gave him a look from my seat.  He got back in the car and stared at me, “They’re going to notice that in the morning.”
I cringed, “Nah, man, it’s just feathers.  That sort of thing buffs right out.  Just throw some water on it.”

We made our way to the dark, calm, back roads of San Antonio.  A two lane road going in opposite directions was all we needed to escape into a different world.  While they drank in the back, Johnny drove and I enjoyed the front seat view of mile markers and stars.  We were finally free.  My mind was clear and I became a zen master.  Everything slowed down and I felt surrounded by peace.  I was invincible.

A car approached from behind and started to pass on our left.
“What the fuuuh…” Johnny said.  He turned the music up and hit the gas.  Minisitry, “Thieves” played while he refused passage of the other car.
“Don’t let him pass you, dude!” they shouted from the back.
Before I knew it, we were racing.  Ninety miles an hour and limited sight distance made my heart beat out of my chest.  They cheered from the backseat while Ministry pounded from the speakers.
“Let him pass, man,” I demanded.
“Don’t be scared!” he smiled as he gripped the steering wheel tighter.

All our eyes were glued to the movie happening in the windshield.  So fast.  So dark.  Then, suddenly in view, was a full grown cow.  It was crossing in our lane and the other car missed it by about a foot.  The cow was giant and as black as the night sky.

“STOOOOOP!” We all yelled.  But Johnny didn’t stop.  No.  He did just the opposite.  He floored the pedal and the front of the car lifted with acceleration and tore into the enormous beast.  A violent jolt rocked the car and the front half of the cow went over our heads and the other half seemed to disintegrate on impact.

“Holy shit!  Is everyone alright?” I asked.
We were all in shock.
“Is the cow going to be okay?” one of the girls asked.
“Who cares about the f**king cow!  What about us?!” our friend yelled.
The car rolled about a quarter mile until it came to a stop.  “I’ll check it out,” I said.
I got out to find that my side of the car had been completely crushed.
“I should be dead,” I said to myself.  I knew I shouldn’t be breathing but there I stood anyway, in the dead of night, on the side of a country road, taking in what had just occurred.  I looked at Johnny and shook my head.

I got back in the car.
“Is the cow okay?” one of the girls asked.
“No.  It’s not.  Please don’t ask me that again,” I said in a somber voice knowing that I, too, shouldn’t be okay.
Johnny looked at me, “Well?”
“We can’t buff that out, man.  We’re screwed,” I admitted.

We devised a plan: Take the girls home first, then strip the car and make it appear as if it had been stolen by anyone else.  But the car didn’t start.  Plan B: we strip the car and we all walk home and hopefully make it home before our parents noticed we were gone.  Our friends in the back held the girls while they cried and Johnny and I started to tell everyone to get out so we could ditch the car but we knew there was no way out.

The next car that approached was a Bexar County Sheriff.  We immediately threw the booze out.  They took our names and numbers and called our parents.  One by one our parents showed up.  One of the girls was a minister’s daughter.  He was not kind with his words toward us.  All the parents had something to say.  All of them except for my dad.  He was smiling and laughing with the officers about the mess on the road.
“Come on, son.  Get in the car,” he said.
I was scared.
“You’re very lucky, son.  You messed up and you’re in big trouble but right now, I’m just glad you’re okay.  We’ll figure out your punishment in the morning.  You’ve probably seen a lot tonight.”
I had seen a lot.  Too much, in fact.  I’d never seen anything like it.

The next day, my dad informed me that I was grounded for the rest of the summer, which was six weeks.  Johnny’s parents put him in a different high school altogether and I didn’t hear from him until years later.  The other two guys and I remained friends for a while but I never spoke to the girls again.  I’d see them at school hanging out but it was like we never shared that night together.  One of them came to school one day wearing a black and white cow jacket and they all laughed about it.  I didn’t understand my exclusion but I accepted it.

I imagine hitting the cow was for the best.  I like to think that it had mad cow disease and we saved countless lives from pain and suffering by killing it; that the government wanted to award us medals but that would only encourage us to do it again.  We’d be the punished unsung heroes, never to receive a proper thank you.
Well, I’ll say it now…

You’re welcome, America.

The Boy Who Cried Moth

There is a kid next door.  A child about 7 years old.  This child screams.  He screams at moths and mosquitos because, to him, every mosquito is a monster and every moth is trying to kill him.

“OH MY GOD!  OH MY GOD!  Mom!  Come here!  MOM!!  HELP!”

Those blood-curdling screams were coming from my neighbor’s back yard.  The first time I heard this, I jumped from my chair and hurried out the back door to rescue this child.  This child was obviously in grave danger as told by the nature of his scream.  Also, I’m a father of two boys, so I know the sound of a child in real danger.  My heart raced.  My chest pounded.  I was in full rescue mode.

“Mom!  Kill it!  A MOTH!!”

I stopped cold in my doorway.  My rescue mode now turned to anger mode as my eyes met his.  He smiled at me and we shared a moment.  A quiet moment.  A moment that this child will not fully understand for quite some time.  He scared me.  He used panic to get attention.  And now that unspoken goodwill I had for this unfamiliar kid is broken.  I will not be fooled again.

When his mother finally came out, she came equipped with a fly swatter.  Immediately set off by the sight of the swatter, he pointed, “Kill it, mom!  It’s right there!” His mother swatted at the moth repeatedly until she finally delivered the deadly blow; sending the moth into oblivion.

I turned to walk inside thinking it was over, but no… “There’s another right there, mom!  Kill it!”  Then they both charged through their backyard slaying moths together.  I’d have thought it was a lovely sight had my adrenaline not been abused.

Days later I would hear that scream again, but one mixed with crying, “MOM!  OWWWW!!  MOM!!”  Once again I jumped from my chair and ran out my door; my blood pumping.  But, right as I’m about to jump the fence and save this boy, he screamed again, “A MOSQUITO!  Oh my god!  A mosquito!”  Once again, the mother ambles her way outside holding the fly swatter.

This time my gaze is fixed on her.  She gives me a smile.  I nod and say, “Your boy certainly scared me.”  She shrugged, “I’m used to it.”  Then I noticed a threatened look in her son’s eye.  I had stolen her attention from him.  He tugs her arm, “The mosquito almost bit me, mom.  You have to kill it.  I saw a baby moth on the tree, too.  You have to kill it before it turns into a monster.”  And with their mission ahead of them, they followed each other into the fray.

I wonder what I’m going to do the next time I hear him scream.  Will I run outside?  Will I ignore him?  What if I do ignore him and he ends up on the front page of the local paper: “LOCAL BOY ATTACKED BY RARE MONSTER MOTH”.  And every daily edition of the paper would bring an update: “PARENTS WONDER IF NEIGHBOR COULD HAVE SAVED THEIR BOY”.  Until a final headline: “BOY SUCCUMBS TO VICIOUS MOTH ATTACK, NEIGHBOR HELD RESPONSIBLE”.

It’s in my nature to help, so I imagine I’ll still jump when I hear him scream.  Only I won’t run to the door, I’ll peek out the window.  Unless a giant moth is kickboxing him, I’m not going outside.

How Will I Know When She’s Inviting Me?

“When are you coming to bed, Chris?” she asked wearing only a robe.
“I’ll be there in a second, I just have to finish this.”
… 10 minutes later …
I walked into the bedroom and she was on top of the covers wearing just a bra and panties that way I could see what I’d been missing.  I could also see she’d been waiting for a while by the way she was curled on her side, holding a pillow.

“You blew it.” she says.
“How did I blow it if I didn’t know?”
“You knew.”
“I didn’t know.”
“What didn’t you know, Chris?”
“I didn’t know you were going to look like this.”
“I always look like this!”
She had a way of wedging logic into our discussions.
“I meant with just your bra and panties on.”
“You mean, just my panties.” she says while tossing her bra to the floor.
Oh. My.  Was that an invitation?  

I never got used to that.  Her seduction skills were straight out of the Kama Sutra.  Really, she studied that book.  I was intimidated at times.  I never saw her naked unless she wanted me to.  She kept the mysteries of a woman in tact and at the same time, showed me all of her.  It was her trick, make me think I was in, then teach me a lesson when I start to take her for granted.
“Can I join you?” I ask.
“Of course, Chris.”
I stripped down to my boxers.  She looked on unimpressed.
I laid next to her and she covered her chest with her arms.  She whispered in my ear words that I won’t ever share mixed with the perfect tone, then turned her back to me. I was shunned.

I got up, walked to the dresser and lit 2 candles.  Always two.  One for her, one for me.  I grabbed the rubbing oil from the bathroom cabinet.  I returned to the bedroom to find her face down on the bed, waiting.  She knew I was trying to guess what she wanted.  I guessed right.  Full body massage.

I poured over every inch of her with my hands. But the lotion made her body stick to the sateen comforter.  I thought, “Come on!  Don’t blow this for me comforter!”
I removed the comforter and I poured my hands over her body again, the exact same way.  She responded with sounds of pleasure.  My hands became tired.  I kissed her then turned her to face me.
“Wait, Chris.  I’m not ready.”
“You’re not ready?  Why aren’t you ready?”
“You have to put me in the mood first.”
“I JUST PUT LOTION ALL OVER YOUR BODY!  TWICE!”
“Oh, that’s right.” she said laughing, “I forgot about that.”
She laughed while she grabbed me by the face and kissed me.  There it was, my invitation.