Alan Catlin

Doug’s Life of Crime

started almost as soon
as he was able to know
what thieving was: taking
stuff that didn’t belong
to you and not getting
caught. We were maybe 13
when he said there was this
empty house up the road
where they had free stuff
and you could just go in
and take what you wanted.
When we got there, I saw
that meant climbing inside
through a broken window
to load stuff onto a stolen
shopping cart; stuff you
scammed from inside.
It was pretty obvious
this wasn’t stuff people
were giving away.
“I’m not going in there.”
I said. “Coward.”
“Damn straight, I am.”
The cops nailed Doug
wheeling a cart load of radios,
toasters, clocks and whatever
else was small enough to
fit in the wagon and looked
like something people could
use. He had to appear in court
and his old man went way
beyond ballistic. That’s how
Doug learned his old man knew
how to beat you silly and not
leave marks. It was skill he
learned in the army during the war.

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