Tuesdays are hectic days for our family. Today turned normal Tuesdays on their heads.
I think a timeline might be helpful. No, wait -- a Venn diagram. Aw, scratch that -- how about a map?
This is a Google Earth view of where all four of my family were at 4:50 p.m. today. Smedley was in one of the buildings -- though not the one I thought she was in -- at her theater class. Chas and Sparky had just come from the dog park, and had the beagles on leashes standing in the parking lot. I pulled up next to Chas's car, and the three of us wrangled beagles for a couple of minutes before Chas walked to his job. Sparky and I loaded the dogs into the Thunderbird.
I was just pulling my feet into the car when I noticed a vehicle coming across the parking lot toward us. I thought it might be someone I knew because of how close to me he opted to park, but I could see he was an old guy in a Hawaiian shirt, a stranger. I closed the car door and turned toward Sparky and the dogs in the back seat.
"So, how was school?" I started, but stopped speaking when I saw two police cars hurrying up behind us. A woman in a green Mustang parked nearby, got out and pointed at the car next to mine, then moved her car out of the way. In a moment there were four cruisers behind the Fooleryland cars and the old guy next to me.
"Uh-oh, Sparky," I started to say, but was cut short by the sound of a voice coming through a loud speaker, something along the lines of
"PUT YOUR HANDS WHERE WE CAN SEE THEM! SHOW US YOUR HANDS!"
"Crap," I said. Or something similar. "Sparky, I want you to lie down as best you can. Just keep low, okay?"
"Why? What's going on?"
"Well, I'm not sure, but the police want this man to get out of his car, and I want to make sure we're safe, so keep low."
You cannot also instruct a beagle in this manner.
I tried to lie down but the center console kept me from doing that, so I sort of laid back, stared at the sunroof, and thought of England. I think all of my body except perhaps my nose was below the firing line, but I'm not totally in love with my nose, so I was pretty calm.
Until I saw that they had brought the old guy down to the pavement, but I could still see thee hand guns pointed at the old guy's car, and then I realized that his car had smoked windows in back. The police couldn't see if there was someone else in there, and neither could I, but they reeeeeeeally thought there might be someone else in there, so I did, too.
"Sparky, duck again!" I said, trying to sound nonchalant. Now I was worried. Truthfully I was mostly worried that some helpful policeman might evacuate our car out the passenger door, and we'd have some fancy beagle-wrangling to do under duress.
"Hey, there's a kid or something in that car!" I heard one officer say.
Up went my hand, fingers splayed in a kindergarten wave that said both "Here we are, yep! Hiya!" and "I'm totally unarmed!"
(Original photo by Sparky)
The story winds down from here, and is mostly a comedy of errors due to the fact that Chas was working very nearby and didn't realize that half of his family (and his beagle fortune) were nearly in the line of fire. I went into his store to tell him that we were safe, and someone came in and related that the police had been chasing the drunk for 15 minutes, during which time the old man had hit a few cars. I don't know if any of that is true. A store owner farther down saw the old man apprehended by the police, which I heard but didn't see. She told me that the old guy's pants weren't zipped, and when the cops tackled him and dragged him out of the line of fire (in case there were more suspects in his car) his pants came down and he was buck nekkid on the asphalt. She told me this out of genuine concern for the theater kids, but I just shrugged. I was thinking, Eh, how big a deal could seeing an old alcoholic's genitalia be, as compared to watching most of Chico's law enforcement converging in this parking lot?
Because Smedley was in a different classroom from usual, I spent an additional half hour waiting for her, thinking they scheduled a late practice. She was, of course, miffed that I was late.
"But --" I started to protest.
Never mind. It's the best excuse I'll ever have for being late, and it still wouldn't work with Smedley.