This story has multiple pages. Please follow the numbers at the bottom.
On the day before Christmas two years ago, I was alone in my house except for my son who was home for the holidays. It was around ten in the morning. My wife was at work and my son was in the study surfing the internet or answering e-mail or something. I had a leisurely breakfast and had taken almost an hour and half to read the morning paper. I finally got off the chair and went upstairs to do some chores.
I straightened the sheets on our bed and puffed up the pillows. As I was dusting the wrinkles on the blanket, I heard a noise outside like someone driving a car with a flat tire. Thumpety thump, Thumpety thump. The weather was clear and there was no construction going on in the neighborhood to have nails or other hazards on the street. I was going to ignore it, but then got curious. I had heard stories of houses being burglarized during holidays and hoped that none of my neighbor’s houses, or mine for that matter, was hit.
I peeped through the bedroom window blinds by raising the wooden slats with two fingers. There indeed, was a midsize car with two flat tires. It had stopped right across from my driveway. I saw one kid come out then another and then two others —four in all. They all appeared to be teenagers. Are these Kids on alcohol? Drugs? That was the first thing that crossed my mind. Soon after a black pickup came and stopped right behind them. Thinking some Good Samaritan helping the kids, I closed the blinds and resumed my chores. I thought it best not to get involved. A while later when there was more commotion and I heard people talking, I looked through the blinds again. Two of my neighbors had come out and were just observing the scene with folded hands. What were they doing? Why were they just watching the scene without doing anything about it? Then I saw the man in the truck point to my house and walk over to my lawn. Why was he doing that? Did something happen to my house? I rushed downstairs, pulled my winter jacket over my shoulder, slipped into the winter boots and rushed out. A thought crossed my mind that perhaps they left some of their belongings on my lawn and wanted to retrieve them.
I noticed four police cruisers right in front of my house. I was half way on my driveway when one of the officers who had just arrived walked over to me with a yellow pad and pen in his hand.
“Is this your house?”
“Did you see what happened?”
“You are the victim.”
“I am?” I said with a puzzled look. I wasn’t assaulted or robbed and nobody had tried to run me over or set my house on fire. Then why was he saying that?
He took down my full name, telephone number and date of birth. Curt, one of the neighbors, who was watching, came over. The officer took the same information from him. Curt told the officer what he had seen. I still didn’t understand what had happened.
“You can go inside, Sir. I’ll get back to you.” The officer, Jackson, told me.
I looked over my lawn in the direction where the guy from the truck had walked. I saw two tracks in the form of circular arcs, about twelve inches wide in some places, extending from one edge of the lawn to the other, a length of about 40 feet, and a heap of leaves about four feet long and two feet wide on the street to the left. They had knocked over four box woods. My lawn, the one that my wife, an avid gardener, was so proud of and had heard many complements from my neighbors over the summer, was disfigured. I had no idea of the extent of damage and what it would take to rebuild the lawn again. Now I realized why I was the victim. I came in and called my wife. I told her about the damage to the lawn.
“Don’t let it bother you,” She said. “We can’t control everything. It’s holiday time.”
That was a surprise. I was expecting a burst of anger from her. Wait till she sees it, I said to myself.
“Well, I don’t know what the extent of damage is?” I said.
“Probably not much! I know the bushes you are talking about. I wanted to replace them anyway and the grass will grow back. Don’t worry.”
I didn’t expect that. I just kept quiet. I had a feeling her mood will change once she sees what had happened. My son went out to take a look.
He was upset. “What if you were standing on the driveway? You could’ve been killed instantly,” He said fuming.
“Now let’s not hypothesize,” I said, trying to restrain him. “Let’s see what the officer has to say.”