I woke up about 4:00 AM
last night as someone was leaving my room. The room was lit up by the window above my bed; the movement-sensor light outside had been triggered
. If it hadn't been for that, I probably wouldn't have been sleeping lightly enough to become gradually aware of someone moving around in my room, and opened my eyes to see my door stealthily
sweeping shut. I got up quietly, feeling confused and out of sorts
(can't imagine why.) Somewhere in my fogged brain a seed of uneasiness was germinating, but I supposed maybe it was my parents, who had stopped by for some unfathomable reason and needed something from my room, but didn't want to wake me. I opened the door and turned on the light in one motion, and found myself staring at my would-be burglar. He was a little taller than me, with black hair and a goatee and a good face for a thief in that it was wholly unremarkable
. He smelled strongly of cigarette smoke. He was poised in the hall right outside my door, I assume either steeling himself to enter my roommate's room on the other side, or trying to ascertain whether it was safe to reenter mine.
There was a suspended moment where we just looked at each other, each probably thinking something along the lines of, "Oh, fuck" (I can attest to my end of that.) I'm not sure who spoke first or what exactly was said, but it went something like this:
Me: "What (the fuck) are you doing in my house?"
Burglar (pressing his palms together beseechingly): "Ok man, I can see you're freaking out, but the thing is somebody invited me here. I'm just trying to find my way back to the party."
Me: "Who invited you?"
Burglar: "Ok, see, I'm trying to get to your back yard, where the band is."
Me: "What band?"
Burglar: "There's a band playing, isn't there?"
Me: "In my back yard? There's no band playing in my back yard." (gesturing to window, trying to gesture also towards the complete absence of music)
Burglar (skeptical): "There's no band playing in your back yard? Are you sure about that?"
Me: "Uh, yeah, pretty fuckin' sure."
Burglar: "Please don't freak out. Can you just show me how to get to your back yard?"
Me (confused, waving vaguely): "Uhh, it's just--"
Burglar: "Around that way, then? To the right?"
Me (realizing how ridiculous this is): "Can you leave my house please?"
Burglar (hands in prayer again, wagging them at me): "Well look, you're understandably wigging out because somebody you don't know is in your house, but I swear I'm just trying to find these friends of mine who left me. I'm Justin, by the way. What's your name?"
Me: "Tom." (We shake hands)
Justin the Burglar: "So are you in a band, Tom?"
Me: "What? Uhh, no. Could you leave now? Please."
Justin: "Sure, absolutely. Would you like to escort me out?"
Me: "Yeah, right this way." ('after you' gesture; I follow him to the front door.)
Justin: "What's your address, by the way?"
Me: "428 East--"
Justin: "Stone, right?"
Me: "No, 4th Street." (Stone Avenue runs north-south, and is several blocks west of my apartment.)
Justin: "Shit. They left me! Well, thanks, I'm sorry about all this--what's your name again?"
Justin: "Tom, right." (shakes my hand again)
Me (sardonic): "Godspeed."
Justin (rubbing his arms) "Hey, do you have a spare sweatshirt by any chance?"
Me (too bewildered to laugh at the absurdity of this request): "No. Bye."
I closed the door, locked and bolted it (which I'd of course forgotten to do before I went to bed--never again!), and went around the house belatedly checking to see if everything was there. I haven't found anything missing yet, so maybe I interrupted him while he was still in reconnaissance mode. The whole time I had been talking with him, I had maintained the impression that he was really just a drunk guy trying to find his way back to a party, but afterwards the ludicrous nature of everything he had said caught up to me, and I'm pretty sure now that he had just been talking out of his ass, doing his best to keep me more or less at ease until he could get safely out the door. And it worked; he could've had my wallet in his pocket when he left, and I would've let him get away with it. It didn't occur to me until afterwards to ask him to empty his pockets.
The gall of the guy though, to ask me for a sweatshirt (of all things) after I had caught him prowling around my house at four in the morning, still continues to amaze and amuse me. Maybe that's all he was after all along, was a sweatshirt. Perhaps he's a renegade agent of the Salvation Army who, frustrated by the constraints of that ponderous instutition's bureaucracy, decided to take a more direct hand in redistributing the world's supply of warm clothing. A sartorial Robin Hood or Dennis Moore. Godspeed indeed, Justin Moore! But I've only got one sweatshirt, and you can't have it.