One night in late 2004 or so I was out smoking a cigarette when I saw the strangest thing.
A white, late-80’s model Oldsmobile rushed into a parking space. By which I mean that the driver was going full speed until slamming on the breaks upon parking. A guy got out on the passenger’s side. He was a tan-skinned guy, which in that part of the country is more likely to mean tribesperson as it is Latino, with short hair and a black moustache-and-goatee surrounding his mouth. He wore a chain around his neck (which suggests Latino rather than tribesperson) and a large white shirt (ditto). I couldn’t see what was going on, but somewhere below the balcony he was doing something that made a very loud racket. I thought he was knocking really loudly, but it almost sounded like a whack. Whack, whack, whack. I got an idea of what was going on when I heard the door swing open. That was when I took a step back in my mind and remembered all of the features above. I had a suspicion that it might come up. I leaned over to see if I could see the license plate number.
The driver was a young, white woman with short brown hair. I had a perfect view of me. Of course, she had a perfect view of me having a perfect view of her. She whistled loudly, and Goatee-Dude came rushing back with a handful of stuff. It was when they left that I got their license plate number. I went inside and called the police. While I waited for the officer, I took a loo at what happened downstairs. Sure enough, the door had been hacked open. I was thankful that it wasn’t an apartment over, where my friend Preson lived. The officer got there and I told him what I could recall and the license plate number I had.
A day or so later, Preston stopped by and thanked me for calling the police. He said that he was sorry about my VCR. It turned out that it was his apartment after all. Oh, and I’d loaned him a VCR that was apparently among the stuff that the burglar had taken. The police arrested a guy, but refused to tell Preston who it was. He had an idea. There was a guy from work that knew tha the would be out. But the police wouldn’t confirm or deny. That drove him crazy. Instead, what the officer wanted to do was talk to me and pick him out in a group of pictures. He needed my number. The officer called me the following day and we set something up.
Before there was any forward motion on that, however, the guy from Preston’s job confessed to Preston that he had done it. He promised to pay Preston back if Preston would just drop the charged. Preston thought that getting the stuff back - particularly my VCR which he just felt sick about - was the most important thing. Preston wasn’t stupid, but was just a little too good-natured for his own sake. He dropped the charges with the promise that he could get his stuff back. The next day, his coworker said that he had no idea what Preston was talking about and that he had never robbed him.
I contacted the officer myself. He just confirmed that Preston had dropped the charges. I said that a VCR of mine had been taken and asked if I could press charges. I couldn’t. Apparently, what Preston had done was sign some sort of document that said that no crime had taken place. As such, no VCR was stolen. Whatever Preston’s coworker had gotten from him was technically a gift or something. Not quite getting it, I asked if I could take the guy to small claims court of something. He said that whatever civil recourse I had would have to be directed at Preston. That was a no-go.
Preston felt just terrible about the whole thing. He promised that he would pay me back as soon as he possibly could. His job paid a buck above minimum wage and he only worked part time, though, so I knew that it would be a while before he would be able to. The truth is that I wasn’t worried about the VCR. I had three of which that was only one. And I knew he couldn’t afford it. I was mostly pissed off because he shouldn’t have to pay me back. I should be getting it back as soon as the trial was over. Given that he was caught pretty red-handed, that probably would have been sooner rather than later. Instead, it was gone and I was only going to get my VCR back if I let him face a hardship I was not willing to let him face.
So I never got the VCR back, but to his credit Preston did offer to repay me repeatedly. I couldn’t do it, though, since I knew that money was so much more tight for him than it was for me. Back when it was originally taken, before I’d gotten the job at Falstaff, I would have considered getting $90 in return for that VCR (which I didn’t really need) a superb bargain. But I had a job at that point and didn’t need the money too badly. Unfortunately, Ragweed would inadvertently take one of my VCRs with him when he left and my final VCR would get damaged in the move down to Estacado. Now I have everything I need to rip my VHS tapes to computer except a VCR. So now, five years later, I could actually use it.