Bob had always been a tinkerer. As an adolescent his parents thought him precocious and a budding genius because he disassembled everything he came across. Toasters, alarm clocks, radios, lawnmowers all became piles of loose parts as Bob learned to wield tools. It started getting old in his teen years, his parents finding it less cute and promising and more like a never ending expense that played hell with the family budget. When, at 18, his father came home to find the 200 horsepower Mercury outboard from his bass boat scattered across the garage, Bob found himself disowned and homeless. With no other prospects, he joined the army and they turned his propensity for destruction into a diverse set of skills.
At age sixty he was diagnosed with cancer caused, it was presumed, by exposure to Agent Orange. With treatment from the VA the cancer was put into remission, but still left Bob disabled. The VA gave him a mobility scooter which, true to his nature, he disassembled and then reassembled into a vehicle that could (and once did) elude police cars in pursuit. He’d been clocked at fifty miles an hour in it. On a bright spring Saturday morning with the sun bright in a clear blue sky and the temperature a comfortable 70 degrees, he rolled his scooter down the ramp from his front door and headed downtown.
Earlier that morning, Ellie Parker woke her son Brent and made his breakfast like she did every workday. After eating his bacon and eggs, Corporal Brent Parker donned his Spokane Police Department uniform and headed off to work. His job was patrolling the downtown area, referred to by the department as the David Sector. Ellie decided that she would go downtown herself after she did a little straightening up and the breakfast dishes. She’d just finished a novel by Janet Evanovitch and liked it so much she decided to buy another in the series. Around ten am she climbed into her 1992 Toyota Corolla and drove downtown. She found a parking spot about two blocks away from Auntie’s Book Store at the “good meters.” This was a section of parking places where a quarter got you two hours of parking for a quarter instead of fifteen minutes. Most of the city believed that this section was an oversight on the part of the city council which, for generation after generation, had a tradition of milking every possible dime out of anyone who happened to shop downtown.
Bob was rolling down Washington Street, cruising the sidewalk at a sedate twenty miles an hour. He was smiling widely and enjoying the sensations of open air cruising in spite of the angry shouts and gestures from those who had to dive out of his way. At the crosswalk he paused to wait for a lady who was crossing the street perpendicular to his direction of travel. “Probably going to Auntie’s,” he thought to himself. As he watched, a teenager wearing oversize pants and tee shirt tugged his black watch cap down and jogged to catch up to the lady. In a quick move, he grabbed the lady’s purse by its shoulder strap and shoved her hard, making her fall to the sidewalk. The teenager took off running north on Washington.
“Son of a…” Twisting the throttle of his scooter, Bob left a twin set of smoking rubber streaks and tore after the young crook. The teen was running flat out but it was like he was standing still when Bob’s scooter, doing about 35 mph, hit him from behind. The move scooped the guy right into Bob’s lap. Steering and working the throttle with his right hand, Bob used his left to pound the teen’s head with his fist. The guy was flailing his arms, a bit in shock at the unexpected turn of events. He put it together pretty quickly though and Bob saw the kid cocking his arm to elbow him in the face. Just before they crossed Main street, Bob let go of the throttle and clamped his right hand on the brake handle and grabbed the purse strap with his left. The air cooled disk brakes stopped the scooter instantly. While Bob was retained by the safety belt, the teenager wasn’t and flew off of Bob’s lap to somersault into the middle of Main street. Bob waved lady’s purse, holding it aloft victoriously. The teen picked himself up and started to turn back towards Bob and the scooter. He barely had time to register the chrome bulldog and the word MACK on the front of the eighteen wheel tractor trailer with SAFEWAY STORES INC written on the side.
In front of Auntie’s bookstore, Ellie’s son had taken only 90 seconds to pull up to his mother as she stood on the sidewalk. She had called him cell to cell in tears and he raced the four blocks from where he was on patrol to be at his mother’s side. She was just finishing explaining to her son what had happened when Bob screeched to a halt next to mother and son and offered the purse to the victim. Corporal Parker asked Bob where he’d last seen “the perp” and Bob pointed up the block and said he was at Washington and Main the last he saw him. Brent dove into his car and hitting lights and siren, burned rubber in a two hundred and seventy degree turn and blazed up towards Main.
The Mack truck struck the teen hard enough to knock the wind out of him but no more. However, the extra loose material of his oversized clothing got hung up on the truck’s front bumper and he was dragged for thirty or so feet before his pants ripped and he fell on his back, smacking his head on the asphalt. The truck rolled a few more feet above him before it stopped. Dazed, the teen rolled out from under the truck, stepping into the path of a brand new Dodge Challenger containing four members of the John Rogers High School football team’s offensive line. They had just left the nearby Sonic after picking up milkshakes, all four of which splashed all over the anabolically bulked up young men –and the beautiful black Challenger’s interior as the driver stood on the brakes to avoid hitting the street punk who appeared out of nowhere.
Police Corporal Parker slid to a halt just in time to see the doors of the Challenger fly open and see four very angry young men hoist their bulk out of the car with surprising quickness. The teen was knocked to the ground and the four were engaged on synchronized groin kicking when Brent ran up. Yelling “Stop resisting! Stop resisting!” Brent started whacking the teen with his baton. After a few minutes of venting their frustration, the four football players hauled the stunned teenager to his feet and held him while the policeman slapped the cuffs on him. The back door of the squad car was yanked open and the teen was shoved in. He sat mute, staring into space making keening groan.”uhrrrgh… uhrggh.” The policeman shook hands and congratulated the members of the offensive line. “Go Pirates!” said Parker getting into the unit.
Bob and Ellie were in front of Auntie’s discussing Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series when Brent rolled up and double parked. “Hey mom, is this the guy?” asked the cop.
Ellie peered into the back seat of the car. “Yes, dear. He’s the one.”
Bob looked too. “Yep.” he said. “That’s the guy all right.”
Brent gave his mother a kiss on the cheek and waved to Bob and said thanks. He hopped back into the unit and drove off with the still reeling thief. “uhrrrgh.”
“Well,” said Ellie. “I guess I should go get my new book.”
“Sizzlin’ Sixteen?” asked Bob.
“Why yes! Have you read it?”
“Yeah, I’ve read all of Evanovich’s stuff. I love the Lula character.”
“She’s a pip!” smiled Ellie.
Bob twisted his throttle and scooted across First street. “I can’t believe she said pip.” he thought to himself.