By Andrew Ramirez
My Thief was a small Orphan who didn’t have Shoes and didn’t like Ray Bans
Sunday, like all Sundays, is a good day to have late breakfast, a shower, a nap in the shower, a deep stare into the fogged mirror. It is also a good day to spend an extra minute brushing your teeth. Listerine tastes good. If you floss weekly, chances are you floss on Sunday.
But the Sunday before classes started, I woke up and walked down two flights of stairs to find that my door was open even though I remembered leaving it closed. Two weeks earlier I had arrived back in LA from El Paso. One night earlier, in farewell to summer, three hundred people had been in our house on Menlo. The party was eventually broken up after two men climbed to the roof of the garage and exposed themselves. But somebody still put a Simon and Garfunkel vinyl on at 4 in the morning and there had been wine and rum, there still was wine and rum, and when I woke up in my friend’s chair on the third floor, I knew it was Sunday and I needed to go down two flights of stairs, to my room, to grab the floss.
But someone beat me to it. My floss was there, but my laptop and wallet and cellular phone were not. The backdoor was open too. Just to make sure, I walked through it. Standing outside barefoot, kicking red Solo cups into small piles, I found two quarters and three nickels on the back porch but no laptop or wallet. I called my cell phone. It rang regularly before going to voice mail. The second time, it went straight to voice mail. Back inside, I made a few sweeps of the house, checked the cupboard and drawers, put on running shoes and sprinted to Ralph’s for air. Back home, breathing heavily and spitting too much, I listened to my recorded voice tell me for a third and final time that I wasn’t there.
Hours later I would realize that the burglary had taken place sometime between 4 and 7:30 AM. I would also come to notice, and later appreciate, that the burglar had taken 800 dollars worth of property, but left my Ray Bans—they’re real—alone on the dresser. Since I still had them, I put them on. It was Sunday. And there is a forgiveness that comes with a Sunday after you have spent too much time drinking rum and wine the night before. So I made all the necessary cancellations. The voice over the phone at Chase Bank said she was sorry about that. The slowed state of recovery made breakfast easier. I was, after all, hungry. One of my friends covered the price of my omelet and juice. By one o’clock, I started thinking about karma. Getting ripped off had to be good for karma. Maybe not good for the burglar, but what about the burglar? The burglar had left the Ray Bans. That means something. That means trendy frames were not a priority, but maybe survival was. Does karma take into account the fact that maybe the person needed it? I started to picture my thief as a small orphan boy featured on a dollar a day feeds this child commercial. If he only stuck around, I could have hugged him and wiped his nose.
“A fallen world,” the LAPD officer mused while filling out a report. “A world of dopeheads, knuckleheads. Jesus. I’m glad I have a gun.” His walkie talkie, for a sixth time, erupted in noise. “Nice sunglasses by the way. Why didn’t they take those?”
“Maybe they thought they were fake?”
“Mr. Ramirez. My point is: none of that’s important. What’s important is that there is a blue and gray backpack—your blue and gray backpack—with all your stuff in it, PC, wallet, cell phone. Anywhere in LA.” He punched a cigarette between his lips, examined all of Los Angeles or at least what you can see of it from our porch, and lit up. “Probably being hocked for cash or dope. Maybe sex.”
Then he was telling me, by way of a disturbing personal story about a police sting operation in a MacArthur Park factory, that I had inadvertently funded child sex trafficking in LA. By the final climactic scene, where he and a fellow partner, both wounded, were cornered, pistols drawn and waiting for backup, he was thoroughly excited. And pissed. Mr. Ramirez, I imagined. How does it feel to know they’re using your laptop to feed kids half your age heroin?
But the officer told me he would keep an eye out anyway. Then he cut me a copy of the report and offered a rigid handshake.
“Your stuff is gone by the way. But keep your eyes open. And lock your door.”
I widened my eyes. On the yellow theft report he had spelled my last name wrong, put an accent where one didn’t go, and confused my middle name for my first. Before he left he said, “Just be happy you’re PC guy. At least you didn’t lose a Mac.”
Since then, I have installed a deadbolt on my door. I also hide things under my bed when I’m not there. But that is becoming more rare, and two days ago I left my friend’s borrowed laptop on my desk all day and when I arrived home it was still there. I figure things could have been worse. I can’t complain. The other day I read a DPS report about a guy who was jumped in an alley and one of the jumpers had sat on his face while the other rifled through his pant’s pockets. I could have been sat on. I share the same last name as the Night Stalker and he stabbed and shot older women all throughout LA in the eighties. All I got was ripped off, burglarized, and I feel fortunate. Plus, somebody had forgotten two quarters and three nickles on our back porch, and if my small orphan burglar comes back, well I guess he can have that too.