Thursday, May 22, 2008

Crime and Minor Superheroes

Andy Vandergriff walked through the chattering echo chamber of West Towne Mall toward his friend who sold cell phones at a lonely and rather exposed kiosk in the middle of the walkway. The conversation they struck up was somewhat nondescript, peppered with statements about how boring the day had been. How exciting could life be, after all, sitting in the confines of West Towne Mall? One can imagine hoping for a paycheck to compensate for the time spent staring at a forlorn cash register that stares blandly back like some awkward mechanical marsupial.

“Stop her! Stop that woman!”

The alarmist cry poured out onto the drab tile floor like acid and spread to the curious ears of passing shoppers.

“Stop that woman!”

They looked again to see the woman in question, barreling down the breezeway, loaded to the gills with hundred-dollar handbags. In her eyes, one could glean the thoughts of a rat leaving a hawk’s nest with an egg. Behind her – by a widening margin, mind you – came the manager of the store, making admirable yet limited progression in an acute pair of heels. Andy looked at his friend, and his friend looked back. The tonnage of comprehension smote their understanding, and both wondered, What can be done? What else was there to do?

Andy took off running like Gomer Pyle. He passed the manager. He gained ground on the shoplifter, who was now heading with purpose and desperation towards the door to the parking lot, the gate out of Mr. MacGregor’s garden, as it were. She turned and saw him coming – more than six feet of him. In a panic, she blew ballast, dropping all the handbags in a dire bid for freedom. Caught in a tangle of thousands of dollars worth of shoulder straps, Andy went down, skidding on his knees into the lightly hung automatic doors at the mall entrance, which, in polite obeisance, flew from their flimsy hinges to hang at perverse angles in the wake of a two-hundred-pound man running at top speed.

The manager caught up, and they followed the foiled shoplifter to her getaway car, taking down license numbers. Afterward, the hero went to Chick-fil-A and treated himself to a milkshake, the fuel of heroes. All in a day’s work.

Oh, and if you see someone around town riding a black, silver, and yellow Mongoose mountain bike with a sticker proclaiming, “Andrew Peterson is my friend,” tell them I’d love to have my ‘other car’ back. Otherwise, I’m sending the ‘Handbag-Snatcher Snatcher’ after them. Maybe he does bikes, too. I’ll buy him a shake.


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