Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thoughts of a Person of Interest

It was a lousy, rainy, and prematurely dark afternoon in November. I had been home for ten minutes when the police pulled up to the house.

A lot of things run through your mind when the police come to your house, wearing a bullet-proof vest.  My son claims to have noticed a taser gun suspended from a holster.

I figured it had something to do with the fender bender I'd had at the sandwich shop not twenty minutes before.

It was raining, as I said, and dark. The other car was gray, straddling two spaces that were legal, but ill-conceived.   That said, I took full responsibility for what happened next.

I backed my mini-van into the other car's front passenger door.

I got out, apologized profusely, claimed all responsibility, and immediately called the number on my insurance card,which was tucked inside the glove compartment with the car manual and vehicle registration.

Flustered, I relied on the counsel of my insurance provider, careful to communicate every detail of that dialogue with the driver of the other car.

The police would take no interest in a parking lot fender bender, the insurance rep said.

The police take no interest in accidents on private property, the driver of the other car said.

So we did not call the police.

We exchanged information.  I apologized again.  And again.  The driver (of the other car) was understanding--a mom, like me.

I said good-bye, and left to pick up my son from after-school daycare.

When the police come to your door, and your loved ones are all accounted for, and you have reason to suspect that you are their person of interest, it's Judgement Day.

In a way, I had been preparing for this moment for my entire life.

Earlier that afternoon, I had found my friend's expensive chocolate bar in the cupboard.  She had forgotten to take it with her back to California.

I had spent my entire morning making an inventory of Property Law topics, for an hourly wage.  Personal property, trespass, trover, replevin, "first in time"; and, of course, chocolate bar.

The thought of returning the chocolate to its rightful owner--my beloved friend, who loves chocolate more than I love chocolate--did not for a second enter my mind.

Unlike that marvelous character in Game of Thrones, my confessions are not wicked or bawdy.  They are trivial and petty.  Yet they dog me, like my basset-lab, baying and barking constantly, out of jealousy or greed or desperate and proprietary love.

And so, when the police man came to the door, accusing me of leaving the scene..., I was prepared. I had taken inventory, and I did not count fleeing the scene of that accident among my sins.

We went round and round on this point, the officer and I.   At some point, I said, One has to leave sometime, right?

Except for the chocolate bar, I had been trying hard that week to be a good person--particularly, in the parenting department.  As a result, I hadn't been writing, and I was beginning to wonder when I'd get the chance again.  That's the sort of thing that gets pushed to the bottom of the list, sometimes, when you're trying to live a diligent life.

Try as you may, accidents happen.

Disasters happen.  This was not a disaster.

I'd like to state for the record, I did not flee.

I ate the chocolate bar.

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