The Stealer of Tires
By Anne Leskey
The night was well established over the ranch-style house. The garage beside was fixed with someone’s gaze. This someone was riding in a dark green vehicle, and driving on the sidewalk, their car going very slow.
As the person neared the garage, they slowed the car down, and then stopped it completely, though leaving the engine on. The person, who was dressed in dark colors, perhaps blue, had a large sack that was on a wheeled device, with a ramp, which was down. The person took out a lock pick from the pocket of their navy jacket, grunting as they inserted it into the lock of the garage door. The moonlight revealed that they smiled as the door unlocked.
The small personage walked into the garage, not closing the little side door they had entered by. The two cars that were in the garage were seated side by side. The person, who looked like a woman, undid the tires with some tools she, if it was a she, had in her pack. She then placed the wheels into the bag, or onto the thing the bag was on. She was beginning to get ready to leave the building when a ferocious growling stopped her in her tracks.
A dog barred the way to the door, its teeth clenched in a snarl. The garage was a fair distance from the house, but surely people could hear that dog’s barking. The person opened the door, slamming it gently into the dog. The dog yelped, before running a bit back. The person took their opportunity, going out of the door, closing it carefully behind her. What she didn’t realize was that there was a dog door, from which an angry, grey, medium-sized dog emerged.
The woman rolled the tires swiftly into the passenger seat of her green car. It was moments before she heaved the contraption upon which the bag sat into the back bench seat, and ran to her seat, the dog barking and snarling at almost her very feet.
The dog, when the woman had sped off, going about ten miles above the speed limit, whined, and decided not to give chase, instead yelping piteously, before crawling back into the garage, to catch up on his sleep. Meanwhile the car was racing through mud puddles, which splashed all over the windshield. The woman quickly turned on her car lights, the inside ones, turned on the wipers, and drove into the driveway of a large house.
The morning after these events, an old lady, of the age of eighty-six, was seated on the closed-in front porch of a large magenta-colored house, with a lime green roof, and an aqua door. The grounds were completely void of wildflowers of any sort or nature, and all the lush green grass was uniformly trimmed to perfection. This, as Bridget McIntosh thought, was all Jamie’s doing. Coral never bothered much about housework, and Bridget, as she woefully admitted to herself, was far too old. Bridget held her empty mug to her wrinkled, pale cheek. Nineteen-year-old Coral came up, her clothing dusty.
Bridget raised her thin white eyebrows. “Really,” she said mildly, “do you have to get so dusty, Coral, dear?”
Coral laughed, “Why, Grandma. Dusty is my middle name, literally!”
At this moment Jamie McIntosh came in, from where he had been tending the round bed of roses that was in the otherwise empty yard. Of course, the bed had to be surrounded by perfectly shaped rocks.
Bridget pointed back at Coral. “James William McIntosh, you go tell that girl to clean up. Where on earth did you get all that dust?” inquired she.
Coral Dusty glanced innocently around. “You know, the third basement isn’t the cleanest spot.”
“Shh,” hushed Bridget. “We’ve no third basement.”
After each word she slammed her gold-handled cane into the floor, viciously. At this there was a scratching and whining at the door. Upon opening, two small dogs bounded in; one was a scruffy brown sugar color, the other a dark chocolate.
“Coral,” Bridget said, glancing as little brown paw prints marked her green silk. “I think, perhaps, that we need a little liquid refreshment. Perhaps a glass of iced mint tea? And I’d prefer it inside, thank you. I’ll go clean up, as it is obvious Scruffy and Coco wish me to do.” With these words she sailed into the house, walking straight, for an old lady, and entered her bedroom.
When they met in the kitchen, Jamie held out the morning newspaper, which the lady grasped eagerly. She then gave a little gasp of horror. “Oh, Jamie, Coral,” she said. “How awful! Someone has stolen the tires from a car about a week ago. It doesn’t give the name.”
Jamie nodded, taking it in stride. Coral listened to the account, whilst poring iced mint tea into already full cups.
“Coral,” said Bridget, with biting sarcasm. “I think when a cup is overflowing that there is enough tea in it. Of course, I am old fashioned, so maybe it is the style now!”
“Oh,” Coral said, righting the pitcher, and getting out paper towels.
Bridget shook her papers, and laid them aside, sipping at her tea, with a little stack of gingersnaps on a plate by her side. Bridget sighed, leaning back into the chair. “I wish people would stop stealing,” she wished.
Gloria McIntosh was a young woman, about twenty-six. She worked for a detective named Ronald Malcolm. Gloria woke up, the day after the stealing, and felt greatly refreshed. She walked downstairs, where a calico cat rubbed against her legs, begging to be petted. With the sounds of food tumbling into the dishes a fat, golden puppy bounded into the room, barking. A gray dog came in from outside, and ran from the door to Gloria and back again. Gloria decided that something must be wrong, and followed Wilhelm to the garage. Here she went in, and found to her outraged dismay that her cars were lacking their tires. She ran into the house, the black 3” heels she always wore not stopping her flight in the least.
When she arrived at her crimson-colored telephone she panted for a couple of minutes, regaining breath. Then she picked up the phone, and quickly pressed some keys, waiting as the other person’s phone rang. “Hello?” she said. “Mr. Malcolm?”
“Hello, Gloria,” came the answering response.
“My tires were stolen by the thief last night, as I found out this morning. Could you bring your car and some replacement tires?” asked Gloria.
“Sure thing,” returned Mr. Malcolm, “Bye.”
Gloria hung up as soon as he did, and then hurried to her dressing, then she quickly locked up everything, grabbed her purse, ran a hasty hand through it, and dashed outside. Gloria had never liked to walk when she could dash, skip, or run. About twenty minutes later the silvery-blue car that Mr. Malcolm owned pulled smoothly into the driveway. Gloria waved at him.
Between the two of them they got the cars fixed. Gloria then slyly smiled. “Mr. Malcolm?” she said.
“Huh?” he said, absently.
“After I’m done with work today, I’m going to spread some paint or something onto the tires, then, when the thief tries to take the tires, anything they touch afterwards will have their hand print, even if ‘tis in a glove,” she grinned. “And, I’m going to put down flour over the flooring, that way the thief will leave a footprint.”
Mr. Malcolm beamed. “I trained you well, didn’t I, Miss McIntosh.”
“Oh, really, I got that from a book!” she smugly said.
Within minutes a yellow car, and a silvery-blue car in front of it, were going down the road, towards a little brick building. Inside there were six rooms. One was a kitchen/dining area. Then a place to hold criminals until the police could arrive, a bathroom/laundry room, a bedroom, an office room, and a sitting room. Gloria and Mr. Malcolm strode into the office room, where a young man of around twenty-seven sat, at a desk, intellectually pressing on the keys of a laptop. He spun around on his office chair, shrinking what he had been working on. Gloria widened her gray eyes, for his hair, which was a dark blond, was in an astonishing disarray.
“Ah,” said Ronald Malcolm. “Wallace, good to see you’re working.”
The hazel-colored eyes of the man looked towards the ceiling. “Where else would I be?” he said, in much the tone of ‘that statement is silly, because I’m never elsewhere and if I’m here I’m working.’
“Quite right. Gloria and I will be glancing over the clues on that tire thief case,” returned Ronald.
They turned to a stack of papers, and spent the whole day doing what they had done many times before, hunting for hidden clues within the facts that had been recorded about this thief.
It was again nighttime, and once more the woman was out. It was three nights since her last crime, and this time she had her eyes set upon a wonderfully well-stocked place. Richard Jackson’s family had a large collection of cars, seeing as each of their ten children had one, and then Richard and Melanie both had their own. That was forty-eight tires, and these couldn’t go unnoticed.
Pretty soon the woman was at the faded green house of the Jacksons, sneaking into their garage, and stealing their tires. This time she took her own sweet time, not fearing a dog. She got everything onto the ramped thing, and moved to her car, loading each of the wheels happily in. Her work for the night was completed. And she had laid in a goodly supply of rubber.
As she rode down the bumpy, black road she thought how forty-eight tires could be used, and to what good purpose might they be put? Then she noticed her gasoline was low, and after locating the station she wondered if they would notice the tires in her car, if there was anybody out there. She turned into the side of the road, and put a lot of tires onto the floor, covering them with canvas. Then she stuck a wide brimmed hat on top of the pile in the passenger seat, swiftly putting a blanket around it, like somebody who was traveling might use if ‘twas cold. Then she pulled into the station, and got her gasoline. Her worrying came to no account, as nobody was out. She sped homeward.
Bridget knew that she was getting old, and sometimes after staying up all night for this or that reason her bones hurt to the core. She knew that she was getting on in age, and wondered how many years her mistreated self could survive. She drove a car too fast, ate like a pig, and slept for only four hours each night. Not to mention that she never brushed her teeth. Bridget grinned. She was missing only one tooth, and that had nothing to do with the teeth brushing, that was from when she lost a tooth when she was little, and the big one never grew in.
She then wondered what would happen to Jamie and Coral when she died. She thought that maybe Aileen McIntosh, Jamie’s wife, might come back. Bridget grinned again. Aileen and she had never gotten along, and Bridget had been all too relieved when Aileen had gone off to visit her parents, though, it was more like Jamie and Coral had to go to her parents to visit her. Of course, Bridget thought, now that Coral was grown some adjustments would have to be made.
Bridget then moved her thoughts to the wonderful spring day outside. She took her gold-handled cane, the rest of which was made out of a thick wood, and hobbled outside, breathing in the fresh, morning air. Jamie, was, as usual, tending his precious grass with fertilizers and new seeds. Bridget sniffed, hobbling over to the rose bed, which was her favorite part of the yard, besides her fountain.
“Jamie,” she roared.
Jamie looked up. “Huh, mother?”
“It’s time for breakfast.
“Oh,” he said, rather reluctantly.
Bridget smiled, and then suddenly was alerted to the fact that someone was pulling into her black-top driveway. When the young woman got out of the car Bridget recognized her, hobbling over to greet her.
“Gloria!” she called.
“Great-Aunt-Bridget,” returned the girl.
“Come in, we were just about to eat breakfast,” invited Bridget.
“Alright, Auntie, though, I cannot stay very long,” replied Gloria.
Bridget brushed that aside, and then took Gloria through a tour of the whole house. When they went into the basement Gloria walked on a certain part of a rug.
“Ouch,” she said. “What’s that?”
“What’s what, Gloria?” asked Bridget, sharply.
“I felt something under that rug,” said Gloria. “May I lift it to see?”
“Gloria Bethany McIntosh,” firmly said Bridget. “That rug has always been there, it shall not be disturbed!”
Gloria apologized, and the family ate breakfast together, then Gloria sped away. Bridget stared after her, talking to Jamie, though she didn’t look at him. “Jamie,” she said. “Gloria almost found our secret out.”
“What?” Jamie said. “You almost let her?”
“Yes,” agreed Bridget, unhappily. “I’d better go out tonight to do some…shopping.”
Gloria woke up the next morning, and went out as usual to her two cars. She stopped, as she saw that there were footprints in the flour, not to mention that her cars didn’t have their tires, and there were gloved hand prints. She dashed to the phone. “Mr. Malcolm?” she called.
“Hello, Gloria,” he said. “What is it?”
Gloria triumphantly said, “I’ve got the footprints of the thief!”
Mr. Malcolm hung up. Some time later his car came in, with more replacement tires. Gloria sheepishly glanced at the eight tires he had brought. Then she led the way to her garage, flipping on a light. In the flour there were several footprints. Mr. Malcolm instantly brought out his equipment. “This doesn’t help us, much,” he finally said. “The person was wearing flat shoes, I’d guess sandals, there are any number of women or men in this town who wear sandals.”
Gloria glared, at the footprints, and then gestured at the gloved handprint. “And this?” she said.
“Useless,” decided Mr. Malcolm.
When he had gone Gloria decided to make a trap. She attached ropes to the tire and door so that if one took off the tire the door would open, then she set a seat protector and some food and water into the car, making it ready for Wilhelm, her dog. Gloria thought that when the door opened Wilhelm would leap out, and, seeing a thief, would instantly stop him or her. Gloria got up early, so Wilhelm would only have to be out there for eight hours; he’d sleep most of it away, anyhow.
The woman was on the move again, this time directing her attention to the same house she had been robbing from for the past few times, seeing as the owner of the two cars kept putting new tires on them, and never had complicated locks upon her door. She slipped quietly into the garage, and set about working on the front wheel. As it came off, though she didn’t notice it, the door opened slightly, and Wilhelm bounded out, snarling. He closed the door, and turned on the light, as he was trained to do. Then he barked and bayed loudly.
Inside the house a light snapped on. The woman glanced around, in worry. At last she did the only thing for it. She leaped towards the garage door, putting her hand on the handle, just before it swung open and a tall girl, dressed in green pajamas with yellow cats on them, appeared, with a green velvet bed-robe. The light was on so they could see each other’s features clearly.
“Aunt Bridget?” gasped Gloria.
“Gloria?” gaped Bridget.
Wilhelm was keeping the old lady well occupied whilst Gloria took out her cell phone. Mr. Malcolm raged at being woken at three A.M until Gloria told him she had caught the thief. Gloria firmly led her aunt into the house, seating her comfortably on the chocolate-colored couch. Mr. Malcolm and Wallace arrived, with Jamie, who was walking quietly, and Coral, who was scratching and trying to bite, captive. Behind them Donald Malcolm, Mr. Malcolm’s son, who was also a police officer, rode in.
Gloria thought quickly of a plan. She waited until Mr. Malcolm asked Bridget why she had stolen so many tires.
“Oh,” Bridget tearfully said. “I was trying to make,” sniff-sniff, “boots for orphans!” she wailed.
Gloria’s eyes widened, and she blurted out her idea. “Oh, um, Mr. Malcolm?” she said. “Can I keep Aunt Bridget here? Like a house arrest.”
They agreed, provided that she never went outside without Gloria, until her sentence was over. Jamie and Coral went to jail. Coral, though, fainted. Wilhelmina, the golden puppy, who was being trained to do such things, saw a lady lying on the dirty ground, and instantly ran over, and began walking around all over her. Gloria dragged Wilhelmina off, and then watched as everybody left. Bridget was left, tearfully saying that she hadn’t meant harm. Gloria then realized that she was still in her pajamas, though her robe looked like a dress. Then she looked down and realized why her feet were hurting. The most excellent reason was that she was barefoot.
Bridget allowed herself to be led into the house, where the dogs bounded around Gloria. The cat took one look at Bridget, and frigidly froze with the hair standing up, and the tail pointed at the sky. The cat flew from the room.
Even after her sentence was over Bridget stayed with Gloria, starting a business of making dress patterns. Bridget, though, couldn’t get over habits, and each night she sneaked out, and took the tires off the cars. Each morning Gloria had to fix them back on. Other than this they got on excellently.
Copyright 2017 by Anne Leskey