Once upon a time I was a suspect in a gas station robbery…
At the age of eighteen, I was attending a small Bible school and working for a missions organization in an office that worked on behalf of AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa. One weekend most of the girl students went to a staffer’s house for Girls’ Night while most of the guy students went to a different house for Guys’ Night. Naturally on Girls’ Night, once we got all the frou-frou stuff out of the way, our intentions were to sabotage the Guys’ Night. Maybe we should have been painting our nails. Maybe we should have been gorging ourselves on death-by-chocolate cake. But instead, we decided to play Mission Impossible and toilet paper the guys’ house.
Those of us who were brave and very committed to the plan had changed into all black ensembles so that we’d be camouflaged and cloaked by the night. Then I had a bright idea, Wait a sec! I’ve got a bag of dirty laundry in my car. There’s a camouflage tee shirt in there! I should wear that!
Yes, I understand that I was probably better off dressed in black being that our mission was on a residential street lined with trailers and NOT in the jungle… But the camouflage seemed so much more exciting so I told the girls to hang on; I’d be right back. I stepped outside to retrieve the tee shirt when it hit me, Whoa! I didn’t realize it got so dark!
Suzy Square Piece is a ninny in the dark.
After freezing for a second, I bolted to my car (which was parked on the edge of the street), heart racing.
The car looked like this:
In haste I slid into the driver’s seat, but the laundry was in the back. The door didn’t completely shut on the first try, so I opened it and shut it more forcefully a second time. Stretching toward the back, I reached into the bag and felt around for the shirt. The problem was that this was taking too long and I was panicking. You see, when I opened my door twice, both times the interior light went on and off. And while I was blindly rummaging for my shirt, I heard a helicopter somewhere in the sky overhead.
Oh my gosh. They’re looking for someone. They’re looking for some criminal and that criminal is going to find me because my lights came on twice! Oh my gosh! Someone’s OUT HERE!
And as if my imagination wasn’t sufficient at totally paralyzing me in fear, I noticed that in my rearview mirror a set of headlights popped on at the very end of the street. As I studied this, the headlights began to crawl forward, one slow inch at a time.
It’s the killer! THE KILLER!
I sank lower and lower until I could slither into the back seat. (A killer won’t kill you if he doesn’t see you in the front seat, right?) Crawling behind the driver’s seat, I became one with the floorboard.
The brightness from this creepy, slow car’s head beams began to permeate the darkness that was enshrouding me. Soon the light was pouring into the windows of my ’86 Chrylser Lebaron. I could still hear the chopper hovering above.
Keep going. Don’t stop. Please keep driving. I hope the helicopter is getting this!
The. Headlights. Stopped. Right. Behind. My. Car.
And then a police officer shined his flashlight inside and found me pressed against the floor of my backseat, wearing black from head to toe, hiding for dear life. No, that didn’t look suspicious at allllllllll.
He asked me to roll down the window, but the windows were electric and I was too far away from the ignition to put my keys in, so – with both hands – I desperately began trying to manually shove down the mini, broken window in the back. The officer didn’t have time for this, so he requested that I step out of the vehicle.
I looked as guilty as sin. But it wasn’t guilt! It was panic, fear and an awareness of the irony that hung suspended in the air. The officer asked what I was doing.
Me, “I was getting a camouflage shirt out of my car. We’re having Girls’ Night and we were going to T.P. the guys’ house. But we probably shouldn’t do that, huh?”
He advised against it.
Then I rambled on that my fellow classmates were in the house behind me and could vouch for me that the story was true and that we all went to Bible school together.
“See?! It’s on my KEYCHAIN!” And I displayed it, like, AH HA! …because surely a keychain will fix this, right?
I don’t know if he enjoyed scaring me or if he just couldn’t figure out how the girl dressed in black and hiding in the back of her car wasn’t a suspect; but it felt like he had me out on the street forEVER. Eventually the woman who was hosting Girls’ Night realized that I was taking an awfully long time and came out to find me being interrogated by this cop. She verified that, no, I had not just robbed the convenience store because, yes, I’ve been at her house all night. As it turns out, the helicopter had their sights set on the wrong suspect.
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