Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Thieves

My sister and I decided to play ‘Robbers’ one afternoon. It was summer, hot, and we were bored. She was a naive six years old; I an evil nine.
“How do we play?” my sister asked me, her blue eyes wide and innocent.
“Well…we’re going to rob a house” I explained, casually, like I just suggested jumping rope or riding our bikes. “You know, like robbers do.”
We ended up in the garage looking for ‘robber’ tools. We found a saw and scurried over to our neighbor’s house. Their window was ground level and had a screen over it. We crouched down, saw in hand, and cut the screen off the window- the glass, in turn, opened easily. We slid down through the window and into the basement.

We were inside the house, and it echoed in silence.

“Let’s head upstairs,” I whispered, saw in hand. Naturally, we had dressed the part. I was in an all-black leotard left over from a tumbling class, and we had wrapped my sister up in a black trash bag and belted it. It crinkled as we crept upstairs into the living room.

We had the whole place to ourselves- it was like a giant playhouse, but REAL. We spent the next two hours goofing off in the house; watching TV, jumping on the beds, eating our neighbor’s food. Eventually, we found a huge coin jar- it was more money then I had ever seen in my entire life-there were five, even TEN dollar bills in there! Finally bored, we climbed back out of the basement window and raced home. Back in our civilian clothes and under the umbrella of innocence, we quietly played with our Barbie dolls until our parents called us to dinner.

(I think at this point some may be wondering where our parents were during this time. Well, that’s easy- mom was chatting with the neighbor on our back porch, and dad was watching sports on the television. They were probably thinking we were hanging out at a friend’s house. I assure you, they were definitely not thinking their two little girls were robbing a house.)

It was later that evening when everything started breaking down. My neighbor came home, realized his house had been ransacked, and called the police- that’s when the knock came at the door. I peeked behind my dad as the police officer spoke to him.
“Sir, looks like we had a break in next door- some items were stolen- did you happen to see anything by chance?”
“No,” my dad replied, baffled. “A robbery? In this neighborhood? Weird.”
The officer shrugged, thanked dad, and left.
“Weird,” my dad repeated, shutting the door.
“Some people are just bad, Daddy,” I said, comforting him. “It’ll be okay.” I was a phenomenal actress, even back then.
My sister sat silently on the couch and said nothing. I was extremely proud of her.

Later that night, though, she turned us both in. We were in the bathtub- I fantasizing about all the toys I would buy with our loot, and my sister pushing a boat around the water.
“Time to get out,” Mom called from the hallway.
“We have lots of money,” my sister answered in return.
I froze, and then desperately tried to shush her.
“What?” Mom, now curious, peeked in the bathroom.
“We have lots and lots of money,” she said, louder now and more forcefully. It was like watching a train wreck and not being able to do anything about it.
“Where did you get money, sweetie?” My mom’s voice now had a dangerous edge to it. I could see my toy fantasies start to crumble.
“We played robbers,” she answered.
By then Dad had joined this little party, and they both looked at me. “Did you two rob a house?”

At that point it was all over. I confessed and we gave them the money hiding under the bed. Dad went next door, gave the money back, and explained that his daughters were the culprits. Dad then made us go next door and apologize ourselves.

That was awkward.

Dad: “Kids, say you’re sorry to your neighbor, Mike.”
Us: “Sorry...”
Dad: “Why are you sorry?” he prompted.
Us: “We are sorry for robbing your house.”

We were grounded for months and had to pay for the ripped screen with our allowance money. Mom bought books like “Children without a Conscience” and “The Criminal Mind of a Child”. My sister was fine; it was me my parents were weary of. I, the oldest, had lead my sister into a life of crime. The knives in the kitchen were put on the top shelf. Thieves.

To this day, I still don’t understand why I robbed a house. Why ‘pretending’ to rob house doesn’t mean you actually ROB A HOUSE. Like, no light switch went on, the one that goes, “You are robbing a fucking house. This is really, really, really bad. You shouldn't rob this house. You should leave.” I mean, I was nine. Nine is not THAT young. What happened there?

All I can say is that it was summer, hot, and we were bored.

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