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Robbery on 153 August 12, 2010

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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So, one morning last week, early, there’s a knock on the door. It’s my friend Sue. She’s looking for soy milk for breakfast. She’d gone to our local general/convenience store, which I’ve previously called Barney’s, but the door was boarded up and there was a sign noting they’d be opening late, thanks to a robbery the night before. That’s right. A robbery. Here in Parts West.

Sue didn’t have any details at that point. Later, I ran into Ron at the post office. He told me that the robbery had been interrupted and that the thieves had made off with a couple of thousand dollars’ worth of cigarettes.

When I finally talked with Will and Eric, the proprietors, I learned that the door had been busted in; that a thousand dollars’ or so worth of cigarettes were gone; and that the guy who lived upstairs had scared the intruders off. He said they were dressed all in black. Apparently their getaway car was around the corner. A police dog picked up on that trail.

Will and Eric said that they usually didn’t have that much inventory in cigarettes, but New York had just jacked up their prices—and one can walk to the New York border from Barney’s door in ten seconds.

Everyone was stopping by, expressing outrage and sympathy. It totally sucks. It happened on the three-year anniversary of their opening the business. Like many small businesses, they’re barely scraping by.

***

Last week, I was also in the throes of party prepping. Ever since I had my slate patio built in the backyard (in part from the slates that were the foundation of the garage/carriage house [henceforth referred to as the barn], which needed a new foundation to save the building)—a slate patio that complemented my next-door neighbor’s slate patio utterly, what with the two being designed by the same guy and all—Lynda (said next-door neighbor) and I have talked about how we should have a double-backyard party. After about three years of this shoulding, we finally found a date. We tried to keep the guest list to Parts West and very close environs. It was shocking how long that list was, and it kept getting longer, despite our intentions. Likely I should have gone ahead and invited absolutely everyone, but we’d never tried this party thing before.

So despite the fact that it was a potluck, despite the fact that it was a simple party, there was much tasking to be done every day. Lynda brought tables and chairs home from work. I bought beverages and disposable diningware. We cooked a little more than we would have if the potluck was elsewhere. And one night, as we were unloading tables and chairs from Lynda’s car, and talking about what happened at Barney’s, Lynda said, “We should take up a collection for them or something.” I agreed—it would be good to do something nice for them. And then we continued to unload chairs.

The next morning Sarah called me and asked what I thought about taking up a collection for Barney’s at the party. I told her I thought it was a great idea and that Lynda and I had had a similar discussion. With Sarah, we now had a doer on the project. She sent a message out to invitees and told them we’d set up a place to drop donations, if they were interested in contributing.

Then two things happened: Sarah’s husband was worried that she was turning the party into a fund-raiser; she wasn’t, but I understood his concern, just in case Lynda and I hadn’t been on board. Sarah also heard from an invitee that he didn’t think asking for contributions was a good idea, as “that’s what insurance is for.” I get that too. But Barney’s lost that awkward amount of money: It’s a hardship, but it’s almost worse if you report it to insurance. And it sounded like they had decided not to.

We were definitely going to go soft sell on this. I’d put a can out marked “Barney’s.” We would not point it out to anyone. Anyone who had heard, wanted to contribute, and saw the can could drop some bucks in. Anyone who wanted to know what the can was for could ask. The end.

***

The party on Saturday night was a crazy success. The weather was perfect. The heat had broken and the temperature was divine. Lynda had a tent that we set up against her barn, and we put the food tables under it. There were a couple of tables for people to sit and eat, if they wanted.

The night before the party, we’d set up sundown lighting. White lights were strung on the patios and in the tent. Tiki torches marked some pathways. Lynda’s friend Marie, who was on full-time party duty with us, brought some wonderful solar lights; Lynda’s boyfriend Glenn discovered that sticking them directly into the slate walls produced a starlike pattern around each. It was stunning. There was a bonfire ready to set in Lynda’s backyard and a small outdoor fire pit set up on my patio.

My barn was used as the bar. Lynda’s yard is next to that, and her patio is terraced below. My patio is in the backyard behind the garage. All of this is invisible from the front.

The barn and Lynda’s yard essentially became the kitchen. You know what I mean. You have a party, and the guests never leave the kitchen. Many of them never even ventured into our backyard to see the spectacular light show. Even after we set the bonfire.

More than a hundred people showed up. The kids played in the back, but getting the adults back there was nigh impossible.

Only a couple of people got too drunk.

***

At the end of the evening, I was pulling a few things in from the barn for the night. I picked up my ice bucket. I noticed the lid was missing. That’s odd, I thought. I looked all over for it, but it was gone. It kind of pissed me off, because it was a brand-new, not-cheap ice bucket, the first I’d ever actually owned, the first I’d ever used it, and now the lid had gone missing.

It was especially perplexing, because the ice tongs were still there, the ones shaped like the clawed feet of birds, which I had hesitated to put out in fear that they might disappear.

Then I looked to where the Barney’s can had been, and it was there no more.

I checked with Tim. He hadn’t seen it. I checked with Lynda and Glenn. Nope.

Had someone stolen the Barney’s money?

It was too late to call Sarah to see if she had taken it with her or had had Monty pick it up when he left later. It was possible that Will and Eric, who were at the party, had taken it, but it was weird that we hadn’t heard about it.

It seemed as if someone had taken the lid off my ice bucket, stuck it on top of the can, and made off with the stash. I didn’t have any idea how much money was in there.

Is it irony if the money we were trying to raise for the robbed store was stolen? What was I going to tell the guests if the money was gone?

***

About the can: When I was looking for a receptacle for the Barney’s money, I decided to go festive and use my Roy Egg paint can. This gallon paint can, the outside of which is a painting of a chicken with sunflowers, has sentimental value to me. It’s completely disgusting inside: paint has dried into globs, and there’s rust and oil and god knows what in that old thing. I had to line it with foil just to make the inside acceptable.

But the outside is the first Roy Egg painting I ever owned.

Roy’s a local artist with a particular niche. When we were first getting to know him, fourteen or fifteen years ago, we were visiting with him down at his studio. Tim is a painter, and Roy must have said something to tease him, but I can’t imagine what it was—whatever it was, it rolled right off. So I was surprised when early the next morning Roy came to the door, this paint can in hand. It was even filled with flowers. “I’m afraid I might have offended your husband,” he told me. “So I thought I’d bring you this.”

Neither Tim nor I had any recollection of what Roy may have said, but clearly, he thought he didn’t know us well enough to have said it.

But I kind of love that can. The missing can. That was my selfish reaction to what was happening. Why hadn’t I just put out a glass jar?

***

The next morning, I called Sarah. She did not have the money.

“You know,” she said, “I worried off and on all night whether someone should be watching it. But who would take it?”

Who indeed? None of us really wanted to think about our friends and neighbors in this way.

The next obvious thing to do was to call Will and Eric, which Sarah said she’d do.

Within the hour, she called back.

“They have it,” she said. “They have the money, the can, the lid to the ice bucket . . . ”

Here’s what happened: It was late in the evening. Will and Eric were about to leave. One of the other guests grabbed the can, handed it to them, insisted that they take it. They didn’t want to. Lynda and I weren’t around, and they were put in an awkward position. But the guests were insisting, so take it they did. Unfortunately, these guests never told us.

Frankly, we hadn’t planned to give them the money that night. Sarah was going to take it, cash some checks she’d received, and give them all of the money in a day or two. We figured they might see the can at the party, but we didn’t discuss it with them.

Will and Eric got the money. That’s the important thing. That’s what was going to happen all along. Our guests meant only the best. It was a happy ending.

***

On Sunday afternoon, on my way to a quick dip in the river, I stopped at Barney’s to pick up my can and lid. I felt awkward about that (there was a bit of awkwardness all around, eh?), but I told them I was emotionally attached to the can.

They seemed utterly blown away by the generosity of the community and were extremely touched. The community, of course, just wants them to know that we really, really want them here.

I didn’t know how much money was in the can. I was curious, but as I was selfishly asking for my stuff back, I didn’t feel like I could ask about the money too. They did say to me, “Tell everyone we have enough to buy a new door.”

***

Meanwhile, since the party, Lynda and I have felt all warm and glowy from the thank-yous and praise from our neighbors. That’s been great, because when you’re hosting—or at least when you’ve got a personality like mine and you’re hosting—you spend all your time flitting about, seldom landing anywhere. It’s a blur. A wonderfulish blur. But they’re saying they had fun. A lot of fun. And I think they did.

Comments»

1. Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - August 12, 2010

What a wonderful storyteller you are. And I’m so glad to hear how everyone helped Will and Eric buy a new door.

Though it’s pretty shocking to have a robbery so close to home. (For non-Vermonters among your readers, you have to realize that a good number of Vermonters never even lock their doors, and those who do never really think anything like this could happen, so a burglary is indeed jarring.)

2. Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - August 12, 2010

And of course you’re attached to your Roy Egg can! My first Roy Egg piece, a pig I won at a raffle at the Parts West Ham Supper, is always here in my office with me.

3. LisaS - August 12, 2010

wow, what a story. also, tell Roy Egg to get a website–I can find pictures of his building but not his art! 😦

4. indigobunting - August 12, 2010

You know, they just got their first computer and told me at the party that they have a website…but so far, I can’t find it. Stay tuned…

5. Mali - August 12, 2010

This had it all. Sadness (for Will and Eric), envy – (I REALLY wanted to be at that party), horror (at the missing can), slight annoyance (at the well-intentioned but unthinking neighbours), and most importantly, a happy ending. Lovely.

6. Bridgett - August 13, 2010

That is a superbly told tale.

7. Lali - August 14, 2010

It was indeed a glorious time. And I even got to see the lights, thanks to my husband who dragged me away from a conversation, saying “you have GOT to see the lights!”

8. Damyanti - August 14, 2010

Thanks for taking me to your neighbourhood, and including me in your party. That’s exactly how I feel after reading your post. 🙂

Been talking to Terry over the email, and thanks for introducing her to me…her accounts of my country absolutely fascinating.

9. indigobunting - August 14, 2010

Thanks, everyone. And thanks, Lali, for checking out the lights!

Damyanti, I love Terry’s travelogues…the fact that she so religiously does them and that she’s so honest in her reactions and can acknowledge her cultural biases (well, as much as any of us can, anyway). She is so adventurous!

10. helen - August 15, 2010

I can only add to the oft-repeated, “You are a great storyteller”. And obviously a great party-thrower. I nominate you as the organizer of our first get-together wherever it may be. (I vote for somewhere halfway between New Zealand and North America, wherever that may be.)

11. Dona - August 17, 2010

It sounds like a wonderful time, except for the robbery and anxiety of the missing items. Glad it all turned out okay.


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