It started off innocently enough. My roommate bought a new desk and wanted to get rid of her old one, so she put it out in the hall with a sign that said, "FREE! Please take this if you want it." No one in the building took it, but our friend Chad came by eventually and carted it off to his new place down the street.
Then, a few weeks later, another resident got the same idea. Only with more stuff. Much, much more stuff. Furniture. Knickknacks. Foodstuffs. Headgear. Footwear. And since the stuff was being put outside the apartment directly across from ours, Maria and I had ample opportunity to look over the free stuff before anyone else. I walked into the living room the other day to find Maria glued to the peephole; when I asked what she was doing, she shushed me and explained in a whisper, "She's putting more stuff out. I'm just waiting until she goes back inside to go out and look at it."
I gave her a look.
"What?" she asked. "I put back the motorcycle helmet. And those boots."
"Just leave that fax machine alone," I told her sternly, remembering the wistful way she'd been eyeing that bit of junk the last time we were out in the hall together. Whatever she was going to say was lost as the distinct sound of a door shutting across the hall silenced us both.
"Let's go," Maria said, opening our door. Together, we ventured out. Fresh bounty greeted us, in the form of a blue and white ceramic rabbit, a pair of white socks (seemingly unworn), and a magazine rack. Just as we were poised to descend like scavenging hyenas, Maria remembered that she had to go to work. I snagged the socks, Maria took the magazine rack, and we legged it back into the relative safety of our apartment.
While she rushed around getting ready, I sat on the couch and propped my feet up on our newly acquired coffee table, staring at my bare toes and wondering if those socks were really unworn, or if they just looked that way.
"Bye dude!" Maria called from the doorway.
"Have fun at the traumatic brain injury house," I told her. "See you Sunday!"
The door thudded shut after her, but I didn't hear her footsteps going down the hall. A few seconds passed, and then the door opened part way, just enough for Maria's head.
"Steal me that rabbit," she called. Before I could ask just how one steals a free ceramic rabbit, she was gone again.
Possible or not, I would have done it. I had it all planned out -- I would haul the rabbit inside and hide it in Maria's bed. She would come home drunk Sunday night and be terrified out of her wits when she encountered its cool, smooth texture at the foot of her bed.
It was a beautiful plan, only some asshole beat me to the rabbit. When I went out to collect it, it was gone.