It was a freaky evening.
The excitement began in earnest as before I could even set anything down after walking in the door, I was instantly recruited for a quest of the mother's in search of something she'd misplaced. I found it -- 45 minutes later.
This wouldn't have been a big deal except we had planned to head over the river for a little shopping excursion. But, mystery solved, we continued as planned, albeit delayed.
We were still alternately basking in the glow of 70 percent off sales at one store while bemoaning the imminent closure of the Joann's store we've come to love during the past five or six years, when I pulled into the last gas station before hitting my side of the river. While I had 3/4 of a tank, I couldn't pass up gas at $1.26/gallon. I don't even remember the last time I bought it for that price. Years ago maybe? And the mother needed cigarettes. (Hopefully, this is the last of them as she and my godmother have a deal for the New Year.)
So, I'm inside pre-paying for gas, buying cigarettes, and dropping a few bucks into my new retirement plan (AKA Powerball) while a drama is unfolding outside, just yards away.
When we pulled in, I noticed a badly parked, souped up sports car directly across from us in the parking lot. Rap music beat through its speakers, and spilled through its slightly cracked windows. The car was unoccupied.
As I left the store, the owner/driver of said vehicle was being wrestled into handcuffs by a handful of undercover cops. A young female was being patted down and questioned about the contents of her pockets. An unmarked van blocked the front of both that car in front of the store and mine in one of the gas bays. Three or four other unmarked cop cars dotted the lot.
What I didn't know as I paid for my goods was that the mother, happily left in the car with her Shuffle blasting, initially saw the van pull in and two men, guns drawn, emerge. As they ran toward the store, she panicked. She feared that I had either walked in on a robbery in progress or that the men now running towards the store, guns blazing, planned to do just that.
For a second or two, she said she contemplated firing up Ladybird's engine and driving through the front of the store. (This would have been difficult at least initially though with the unmarked van parked directly in front of the car.) As luck would have it, when the next few unmarked cars sped into the lot, the plainclothesmen who emerged had badges on around their necks. It became evident that these were the good guys.
"That van came out of nowhere," says the mother. "All I saw were two guys running toward the store with guns and I was trying to figure out what I was going to do to get you out of that store."
I had to stifle a chuckle as I briefly envisioned the mother barreling through the front of the store, and inevitably running over and killing me as I attempted to exit. The next fear, as the arrestee initially resisted, was that a gunfight would ensue. "I guess I would have crawled into the backseat if that happened," the mother said.
To me, it looked like they had been trailing this guy (maybe after a drug deal?) and decided that the parking lot, rather than a roadway or inside of an establishment, might be the best place to carry out the bust. But that’s just conjecture on my part.
A few more cars arrived on the scene as I finished pumping gas and we left the lot. That was quite enough excitement for one evening, thank you.