Lots of things go through your head when you come home and find that your door has been kicked in, your house ransacked, and your stuff stolen. I'll spare you the basics (the feeling of being invaded, fear, and loss), and skip to the ancillary feelings that came up for me when I got home last week to find my home burglarized. First: wow, you have to be pretty desperate to beat your way into someone's house in the middle of the day. You don't know if there is a dog inside, or someone waiting with a gun, or if the neighbors will hear or see anything and bust you. Fortunately for the person or persons who committed this here crime, the only thing between them and a clean getaway was my 12-year-old blind and deaf basset, Flo. The second ancillary epiphany that I had was that they really could have done a lot more damage, but they didn't. What stopped them from peeing all over my bed? Why didn't they mess up the State Birds and State Flowers jigsaw puzzle I was completing on the coffee table? And finally, did the Hamburglar have anything to do with this?
Here's another weird thing that went through my mind. With a little detective work, I figured out the break-in had happened about an hour earlier. I immediately tried to remember where I had been during that time, and what I was doing — and, gentle reader, I was of course at a bar, for happy hour. I was at one of my favorite bars in the city, the Attic. I was having a grand ol' time, discussing serial killers with a stranger and chomping on Jolly Ranchers between sips. But I wonder if everyone who has been robbed like that tries to think about what they were doing, however blissfully unaware, at the same time that the unfortunate event was taking place. I bet we all do that. It's as if you can go back and stop yourself midwhatever, rush home, and foil the thieves through the power of your mind.
The weird thing is that we were talking about crime when it happened. I am always down to talk about crime. They say that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. Well, what is a morbidly obsessed crime junkie who has been robbed? Does this mean I will have to sell my murder encyclopedias? I don't want to think about that right now.
Instead, let's think about the Attic. It's one of those divey bars with a theme — Grandma's crawl space, if you will (which, by the way, is also a euphemism for something I do not care to mention). The Attic doesn't try to hit you over the head with the cobwebs/phonograph/spinning wheel shtick, though. It's basically a long, dimly lit room that smells faintly of gin and beer, with seating in the back and jumble sale stuff pressed into the rafters. Yes, just like grandma's house. The bartenders are erudite and occasionally cranky, but in their defense, I have only seen them be dicks to people who generally deserved it. I myself got kicked out of the place one drunken evening, for wildly making out with my date in the corner. The bartendress was not amused, and all but chased us with a broom handle.
The last time I was there, though, the fateful night, I had my book about the Moors Murders in England, and the bespectacled hipster who sat by me struck up a convo about it, and from there we ended up talking about how there just aren't as many serial killers as there used to be. I offered that it is because they are getting caught faster, with DNA and all that, so they don't have time to, er, serialize. He said that it is actually cyclical, and if you look at astrological charts, we are headed for a new decade of increased homicidal mania, so just sit tight and wait for it. I sat there, gentle reader, tight (natch), and tried to prepare myself for the new crime wave. I thought about the women who are still alive, right now, who will find themselves in the hands of some horrible sociopath, who asks them to "put the lotion on its skin," and makes a belt out of their nipples. The irony, of course, was that at that very instant, I was myself becoming a crime victim, although nowhere near as horrendously violated.
The young fellow who kicked in my door (for that is what the police guessed; that it was a kid who saw an opportunity and took it) must've had a pulse that was racing. The first time he robbed someone, I bet he was terrified. The second time, he was probably scared but learned to relax a little. By the time he reached the stage where he could tear into a house in broad daylight, he was probably all about the adrenaline. He didn't look in my medicine cabinet, so I don't think he was a druggie. He pulled up all of my sofa cushions looking for guns, according to the crime lab tech who came out. (Note to self: Keep Glock in glove compartment, not love seat.)
This kid is out there now, using my MacBook Pro and listening to my Scott Walker CDs (yeah, right), if he hasn't already sold all of the loot. If I were him, I would've come back to see if the door were fixed. He might even have seen me sitting on my front porch with Flo, drinking coffee, looking somewhat content, despite everything.
Well, I am content, because I know it could have been a lot worse. And when I start to feel bad, I think back to the hour before it happened, when I was an innocent waif, sitting at the Attic, discussing dastardly acts of violence with a total stranger and having vague shame-flashbacks of the night I got kicked out. It comforts me.