Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I was home this past weekend and had some excitement on Friday night. We had gone to bed about midnight or so, and at about 12:30 the two dogs next door start going nuts, even more than usual. This got our three knuckleheads fired up, and they ran down the hall to stand at the back door barking like crazy.

Usually when someone is in the alley that's the routine, they go crazy for a couple minutes then they quit. Not this time though, and looking out our bedroom wondow I noticed that what I thought was one of our motion sensor lights had gone on (turns out Helen had just flipped on the back porch light to see what they were barking at). So I get up, open the back door and the dogs go sprinting to darkest corner of the back yard and are raising hell. I walk out there to the edge of the pool deck trying to call them back in and quiet them down. No dice. I go back in the house to get a flashlight, walk out along the back walkway, turn it on to see what they are yelling at, and the first thing the beam hits is a guy sitting in my back yard.

The heart skips a beat or two and I yell the obvious question: what the fuck are you doing in my yard? No answer. The dogs have him surrounded so I run in the house, grab my gun, run back out and approach him. He's still sitting there, doing nothing. My first thought was that he was some drunk homeless guy, like some I've seen in the alley now and then looking for cans. But as I get closer I see it's just a kid, 18 at the oldest.

Again I ask him what the fuck he's doing, and apparently he's afraid of the dogs so he doesn't want to move. He just sits there and says "Didn't you ever play "ditch 'em" when you were a kid?" Did I ever jump over a six-foot tall block wall into some stranger's backyard in the middle of the night? No, I respond, I was never that stupid.

I ask him if he'd been drinking and he says no, that he's playing hide and seek with his friends (over a five mile radius!) and it's all just good teenage fun. He says he lives about three miles away and had just hopped over the wall while walking down the alley looking for a hiding place. I tell him to save it for the cops who are on their way. Within minutes the PPD helicopter is right over our house shinning the mega-spotlight in the backyard and lighting everything up like it's daytime. The kid says "Oh man, do you think they'll make me pay for the helicopter?" At this point I'm starting to feel sorry for the kid. I think he realizes that his fun for the night is very much over.

By this time the dogs are only barking intermittently and Loba and Riley have made a new best friend. Loba is licking him on the chin and Riley's tail was wagging like it was all good dog fun. Having someone sitting on the ground where he could more easily get at him for petting is what Riley lives for. The kid asks "is it OK if I pet your dogs?" Yeah, I think that's what they had in mind, go ahead.

The cops get there after about 10 minutes, put the cuffs on him and ask him what he's doing. He gives them the same hide and seek story and one of the cops asks "whatta you, 12? Jesus." Four patrol cars in the front of the house and at least five cops, along with the helicopter overhead.

So I'm yukking it up with the cops in the driveway for a few minutes before they go. Lori had been talking to the dispatcher before the police got there and they asked if any weapons were involved. She said I had a gun and they asked for my description so they'd know who was who. "No shirt, khaki shorts." I'm thinking this is just like "Cops." But there the guy without the shirt goes to jail, so I had Lori take the gun inside.

One of the cops in the driveway said "Yeah, I heard on the radio no shirt, with a gun, and thought whoo boy, here we go." If "Cops" is any indication, I figure your odds of getting arrested double the minute you take off your shirt. So happy ending. They said they would check to see if he had a record or any warrants, and if it looked like he was up to no good then we could prosecute him. But otherwise I told them to forget it. They never called back so I guess he really was playing hide and seek, or at least hadn't been caught for burglary yet and didn't have a record.

Can you imagine being that stupid though? Jumping in someone's back yard in the middle of the night? And then not running away when the lights come on and the dogs come out? What if I had been an asshole looking for an excuse to shoot someone? Or just got scared and shot him in a panic? The kid is heading for the Darwin Awards if he keeps this up.

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