CAR THIEF

They all had to have the keys in them.
We couldn’t take them without the keys.

I always said I stole 13 cars
when I was 13
But I recently counted backwards
turns out I was 14
which means I was one less
year innocent, one less year
having an excuse

I rolled the first one

First one was a little
Simca with a cotton top
I’d stolen from a church parking lot

We had a pregnant
chihuahua in the back seat
I was going too fast
I lost control and
was heading for the Spokane River
so I jerked the wheel
into
the golf course
and rolled it upsidedown
onto
its cloth top —
I was so tall my head touched the top —
and nobody was hurt
we just left the car there
had torn a good divet in the golf course
left it there
and walked home

Two weeks later
the chihuahua gave birth successfully

**

One car was in this
open garage attached to a ranch house
and the owner was sitting in front of
the picture window, watching TV
so my friend got behind the wheel,
got it in neutral
and I pushed it down the driveway
and somehow the guy noticed

came out started yelling at us

so I hop in the back seat
the guy goes back inside

my partner can’t get the car started

the guy comes back out with a rifle
and starts shooting at his own car
which really livens things up

I jump up and down in the back seat
telling him to Get going!
he’s trying to get it started
and the guy’s still shooting at us
finally gets it started
and we TAKE OFF

and after everything calms down —
we’re away —
I realize there’s dozens of packages
of breakfast rolls
in the back seat

so I eat the icing off all of them
I mean if I’m taking the car
I might as well eat all the icing, right?

And the guy was shooting at his
own fucking car

Much later, after we were caught
and the cops were talking to us
they said it looked like a pig
had been back there

So that’s that

**

One car was like a 57 Chevy station wagon
and I actually got it up to 120 miles an hour —
this was like in 1960 —

and very early in the morning
I’m driving the car in what
turns out to be a military base

so I’m on this military base
and the MPs stop me —
in the stolen car —

I’m 14 years old
and they’re asking for a driver’s license
and the second MP says,
What’s a rifle doing in the back seat?
and I say, Shit! That’s Dad’s!
He’s going hunting this morning!
I’ve GOT to get the car back!
and they let me go.

**

The other one,
I don’t remember what type of car it was
I stole it
I was by myself
and I had a bunch of stolen
shoplifted 45’s in it
and for some reason I decided I wanted to see
what wine tasted like

so I went into the grocery store
and shoplifted a half-gallon of red wine —
14 years old of course —
I got caught
They called my father
the manager and my father saw how scared
I was
and they all decided that my father
would take me home and take
care of me

they didn’t realize I was scared
because I had a stolen car outside
with stolen 45’s and I was afraid
they’d find out

**

I served 9 days in
juvenile detention
read a lot of John Carter’s
Mars science fiction books
The judge decided, since
I was getting A’s and B’s and
my parents love me and I
loved my parents that it
had to be the older kid’s fault —
he was 17 —
so they made him join the Army
and they gave me a year probation

but the sad part of all this
I was really afraid of what my father
was going to do to me
and he said to me, I could do this or that
but I’m going to trust you

And that was almost the
worst punishment

I don’t remember any
of the other cars

Steven B. & Kathy Ireland Smith collaboration

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