Master J’s grandma is watching the little man for me for an hour and a quarter, so this post finds me sitting in one of the beachfront cafes around the corner from our apartment. It’s a beautiful day, and Master J and I have had our third consecutive day of successful pram time. It makes all the difference in the world; between the rain clearing and the pram drama easing (after Annah and Jenny’s wise suggestions about the pram, I’ve been trying to reassure him that I’m right there by frequently reaching over the top of the pram and stroking his head, stopping to make eye contact with him, and talking to him more frequently so he can hear I’m close – all of which appears to be helping), that awful caged feeling has mostly dissipated, and Master J’s many smiles continue to light up my life. Now if I could only sleep as well as he does overnight…
So I found our vandals, the ones who badged our car last week? Yes, they were so pleased with their handiwork they returned to admire it. Not that they had to travel very far… Here’s what happened: I was standing in our courtyard last Friday afternoon, comforting Master J after his vaccinations. As I stood there, staring absently out at the street, my attention suddenly sharpened. My eyes narrowed to slits. Because right there at the scene of the crime, as brazen as you like, was a young woman photographing our car. Better yet, she was chatting happily to a young man in one of the holiday apartments directly opposite our place. The mental calculation spat its answer in a nanosecond – I was out our front door before the rest of me had even caught up. I still wasn’t fast enough to catch either of them still out on the street, but I knew the apartment, so I walked up the few steps to its garden and started calling out, “Excuse me..? Excuse me?”
Finally a different young man sauntered out.
“Hi,” I said. “I’d like to talk to the redheaded girl who was just out here photographing the red Mercedes out front.”
He looked dumbly at me, so I repeated my request. When he decided to persist with the dull-witted routine, I said I’d seen her talking to someone moments ago in this very apartment, so if she wasn’t available, I’d talk to him instead. Thanks. Eventually he sloped inside and the girl, all wide eyes and dragging feet, came out, her face carefully arranged in an expression of cluelessness.
“Hi,” I said. “I was just wondering why you thought my car warranted a photograph.”
Her head jerked back.
“Oh,” she said. “We were just… talking about it…”
“Really? What were you saying?”
“I don’t know….”
“Because it was badged last night, and it’s pretty interesting, don’t you think, that you would think it worthy of a photograph now? Funny, huh? Now why do you think you’d take a photo of it?”
“Well, obviously it wasn’t me,” she said.
“No, actually,” I said, “it’s not obvious to me at all.”
At the edge in my voice, Master J began struggling in my arms and let forth a long vomit down my arm. The girl and I both stared at it.
“Well, I didn’t do it,” she said.
“Really? Well then, perhaps you know who did?”
“We were just talking about it…”
“And photographing it. Interesting choice. Don’t you think that’s a peculiar thing to do in the circumstances?”
“Well, I guess I can see how it might seem like that…”
“Yes, it does, it really does, so maybe you’d like to go inside and ask if anyone else knows anything about it.”
She eventually agreed to do this, and returned alone, empty handed and lying.
“You must think I was born yesterday,” I said. Master J squirmed and arched. “But I wasn’t, so I’m going to go and complain to the management and see how you like that. Thanks for your help.”
The woman behind the desk was a rude idiot.
“Oh,” she simpered, “we haven’t had any complaints about our guests in that apartment.”
EXCUSE ME? WHAT DO YOU CALL THIS?
“If you can prove someone did something,” she continued, “you should call the police. You can’t just accuse people without any proof.”
“I don’t know who did it,” I corrected. “I’d have to have seen it happen to know who did it. What I do know is someone in that apartment thought the damage to our car worth documenting, and that doesn’t seem at all suspicious to you?”
“You should call the police if you want to start accusing people.”
She was really giving me the shits.
“Right,” I said, swapping Master J to my other hip before wiping a streak of white spew through my hair. “Well, maybe someone in that apartment saw whoever did it. Maybe they witnessed it or… yes, maybe whoever did do it threw the badge over the wall and into the grounds of the apartment, and maybe someone staying there has happened to see it lying in the dirt and picked it up. Maybe. Maybe something like that. Maybe you could ask them.”
She reluctantly took up a pen and piece of paper and even more reluctantly wrote down my name and number. The lady sitting next to her gave me a sympathetic look. We both knew I was wasting my time. She might as well have drawn up a game of noughts and crosses.
With a parting shot of sarcasm – “Thank you so much for your help” – I left.
Anyway, when Llew finally did get home Friday night – to find it transformed into the proverbial dog house, I might add, because I was fucking furious with him for strolling in after a few drinks at 8:15 – I told him what had happened, and he took the excuse to put some space between us, immediately heading over the road to confront them himself.
When he returned about 20 minuted later, he was holding our Mercedes star. I admit I laughed. It was a mean little laugh, sure, chock full of cynicism, but it was still an improvement on the evening’s angry snarl. In short, he shamed them into it. Shamed the girl into getting the right guy to come out and face the music, and then shamed the guy into meekly handing over the badge and writing out his name and address (which Llew checked against the guy’s passport for no other reason than to shame him further). This was probably his drunken idea of a frat party trick (when he tried telling Llew he’d “blacked out,” Llew silenced him and said, “Don’t undo the good work of owning up by bullshitting me any further. Those things are hard to pull off, so don’t give me any ‘I blacked out’ shit because I know you’re lying”), but he vandalised our car, and the damage is small but irreparable. For the record, he was a young American, and I’m sorely tempted to write to his parents