The crime

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In yesterday's post I described a Heathkit lie detector my father had built for fun. He needed a victim, or in his eyes a criminal, to test it out. He didn't have to wait too long with me in the family. I had figured out that before my father went to bed at night he'd empty out his pockets onto the dresser. In those pockets was lots of change. I was convinced he didn't count the change, not many of us do. I had been financing my addiction to candy from the theft of this change from my Dad. It was a lot easier than stealing money from my mom's purse and, since dad's money was sitting open on the dresser, it seemed less of a crime then breaking into her wallet. At least that's how I justified it at the time. Part of the operation was pretty smart. I figured out early on that people keep accurate visual records of things, not quantity accurate records. By that I mean when we're not paying attention, we gauge something by its relative visual size not the actual amount within the pile. My father would have a pile of change that he would remember the relative size of each night, he never counted the contents. By keeping close track of the pile's size, I could extract a quarter, dime or even a nickel or two and be unnoticed. In those days, a pack of gum was five cents, a Hershey candy bar a dime, a piece of bubble gum a penny. A quarter would buy me a chocolate bar and three packs of gum or instead, fifteen pieces of Double Bubble (I thought Bazooka sucked), all of which I would devour within fifteen minutes of purchasing as I stood and read Superman comics in the magazine section of Sav-On drugs. Life was good for this candyaholic. Unbeknownst to me, however, my father had grown suspicious noticing his change was shrinking. He took his time and carefully counted the change each night. He kept a record of it for nearly a week, laying out a trap for the criminal. During this period I too started noticing a pattern. The randomness of the money pile had changed into a more organized clump, the result I assumed of his counting it. My senses told me I might be under surveillance. Had I been smart I would have just stopped. But you know how addicts are... plus, I am sure there was an element of kleptomania sprinkled in there as well; I actually enjoyed the challenge and thrill of the theft. But caution was my friend and instead of pocketing the money each day, as was my habit, I began storing it outside my room's window, on the sill. Just to be safe. Then came the family pow wow. Tomorrow, the punishment.
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Paul McGowan

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