I witnessed a crime from my kitchen window last Sunday morning. Stirring around the kitchen sleepy-eyed, I made coffee while I habitually looked out the window. We live on a leafy street in northwest London, a good street in a good neighborhood. Sunday mornings are the only time the street is devoid of traffic noise. Our one-way system doesn’t stem the flow of pizza delivery motorbikes, child carrying vans, lumber toting trucks, Porsches from our banker contingent and the odd Prius and G-Whizes, although they’re well-behaved and don’t drive us mad.
Thieves are also aware of our sacred morning of silence. The man I saw was blatantly without disguise, his face naked for me to see and remember, which I do. He was tall, dark haired, olive-skinned and wore a beard. His beard was not closely cut, yet didn’t conjure images of Walt Whitman either. It was a Mama Bear beard, right in the middle. The criminal was nicely dressed including a leather jacket, which is why when I first saw him try to break into the private gardens that are entered between the houses, I thought maybe he was lost, or a new resident; although, my instincts told me otherwise, told me I should watch him.
Then, in the broad daylight at 8:30 in the morning he broke into a car. I saw him fiddle with the lock, open the hatchback and rummage around. I raised the window noisily and stuck half my torso out the window. He heard me at once because our windows creak like an old lady’s bones and the sound carries half way around the world. Maybe you’ve heard our windows.
He looked up at me and took his time about moving away from the car.
“What?” He said.
I said nothing.
“What. What can I do for you?”
I remained silent.
“What. Let me see.” He pointed at our house. “Okay. I’ve got your house number. I know where you live. I’ll be back.”
Quite astonishingly he slowly walked away while he continued to threaten me.
“I know where you live. I’ll be back, I’ll be back.”
After I lost sight of him I thought of calling the police and I bemoaned the fact that my phone was upstairs and that I didn’t snap a photo of him. I threw on some clothes and wrote a note to the owner of the car, then ran across the street and placed the note under the wiper.
I never heard from the owner of the car.
Sunday will roll around again before I know it. What would Jimmy Stewart do?