I had a rather exciting Saturday night. It started out rather mellow. I was tired, so I took a shower early and put on my nightgown, then settled in to watch a movie. The movie was reaching the climactic scene when my doorbell rang, repeatedly, like it was something urgent. That usually means the teenage girls who live nearby have lost their volleyball over my patio fence while playing in the yard near it, so I got up and went to the door, but not very quickly. Instead of the girls, it was a man who stepped back off my porch as I opened the door, asked me if I was at home alone, then hurried to add that there had been an accident with my garage. Both of us seemed to realize at the same time that I was in my nightgown, and he said the police were on the way, but would probably be about ten minutes.
I put on the first clothes I had handy and went outside to find a car in front of my garage door, with the garage door bashed in. A group of my neighbors that I refer to as the Council of Indian Dads was out there, including the man who’d come to my door. My neighborhood is mostly Indian right now, and there’s this group of men who hangs out in the drive in the evenings, either talking to each other or on the cell phone to India (I guess the time zones line up that way), with kids and wives coming and going. I live in a townhome complex, so the garages are in different buildings from the actual houses and open right onto the driveway through the complex.
I eventually was able to get the story as they all tried to tell it, interrupting each other and translating for each other. Apparently, they were doing their nightly hang-out when a car came speeding down the drive. It tried to park in a narrow parking space next to a garage, then backed up, scraping the side of that building, and backed right into my garage, smashing the door in. They ran to see if the driver was okay. He told them he’d just done drugs, said he was out of gas and asked for $20, then said the garage belonged to his mom, got out of the car, and ran. That’s why the man who rang my doorbell had asked if I was alone. He was making sure the kid wasn’t telling the truth, but it was pretty obvious when he saw me that I wasn’t his mom.
I checked inside my garage through the side door, and fortunately my car is small and was pulled far forward, so it wasn’t hit, but the garage door tracks were busted out of the wall. Then the police arrived, quite frantic, and started searching the abandoned car, asking where “the child” was. Eventually, we figured out that this was a translation issue. The Indian Dad who’d called the police had referred to the driver as a child, since he was a teenager, but the police thought that meant there was a child in the car. It turned out that the car had just been reported stolen, so they were worried it was one of those times when someone stole a car with a kid in the backseat. The cop kept saying, “So a teenager?” and the Indian Dad would say, “Yes, a child.” This was turning into a “Who’s on First?” routine by this point until they clarified it as the driver being 15-17 years old and there being no other child involved.
Then another cop arrived with the owner of the car, who had been looking for it. I’m not sure what happened there, but it kind of sounded like she’d left it running when running into a convenience store. She said she does that all the time, and I just have to ask why. Does it really save that much time not to turn off the car and take the keys? And she was almost out of gas, so that seems even dumber. She’d also left her phone in the car, which the thief took when he fled. They were hoping they could use “find my iPhone” to track it and see if that led them to the thief, but she’d have to get home to get to her computer to do it.
The cops took lots of pictures and got statements from the witnesses, plus got the video that one of the Indian Dads took. They had to get my contact info and gave me the incident report number that I could use for insurance. If they catch the thief, then he’ll be liable for the damage, but I’m sure that will take a while even if they do find him.
When all this was over, I realized that the t-shirt I’d grabbed was my “Warning: What You Do May Appear in My Next Book” shirt, which would have been rather apt if I were currently working on mysteries. I’m just sad no one commented on it or asked me about it.
Now I need to get my garage door fixed. The HOA seems to be handling it, but their insurance company is now wanting the insurance info for the car’s driver, which is delaying things. In the meantime, I can’t open my garage to get my car out. If I don’t get something done soon, I’ll have to take the bus to go grocery shopping.
To add insult to injury, I was eaten alive by mosquitoes while outside for all of this, and in the past couple of days I’ve had symptoms of West Nile virus. We have had recorded cases nearby. It’s not severe, just a low-grade fever, headache and upset stomach. If it weren’t for the fever, I’d say it was just stress.