Letter From Milo: Auto Theft

November 6th, 2019

I haven’t stolen any cars in the last few years, but I’m planning to steal one this weekend. This is going to be a tricky theft, one that’s going to take cunning, nerve and brass balls. The car in question is a rare vehicle, prized for its symbolism as much as its transportation value.

To do this job right I’m going to need a partner, someone ruthless, meaner than a snake and without a shred of conscience. I need someone who is heavily armed and willing to resort to violence, someone who won’t faint at the sight of blood. I want some serious muscle on my side in case things get ugly. My partner has to be cruel, nasty, devious and cunning. Fortunately, I found the perfect accomplice, a savage cutthroat with a long and brutal criminal history.

It’s my sister.

And the car we’re going to steal belongs to my 85-year-old mother.

Now, technically, we’re not actually going to steal my mother’s car. What we are doing is taking the car away for her own good. At least that’s what my sister tells me.

“She’s a menace. Her mind is slipping. Her doctor told me she shouldn’t be driving. And that was a year ago.”

“I don’t know. She loves that car.”

“I’m telling you, she’s dangerous. What if she gets in an accident and kills herself?”

“At least she’ll die in the saddle.”

“Even worse, what if she runs over some kid playing in the street?”

“Teach the little fucker a lesson about playing in streets. He’d be better off hanging out in a pool room like a regular kid.”

“Sometimes you sound like an idiot. Are you drunk?”

“Ah, not yet.”

I’m well aware that my mother’s mind is slipping – and it’s breaking my heart.

She used to be as sharp as Joseph Stiglitz, but time has eroded her keen faculties. Now she’s inching toward the Shemp Howard end of the gray matter scale (no offense, Mom). As much as I hate to say it, sometimes having a telephone conversation with the dear old lady can be a chore.

“Is your furnace okay?

“What?”

“Your furnace. You know it’s very cold outside.”

“The furnace is fine, Mom.”

A few minutes later…

“Is your furnace okay? Maybe you should have it checked.”

“Mom, you already asked me about the furnace.”

“I did? Is it working okay?”

“Works real good, Mom.”

“That’s a relief.”

Another few minutes later…

“Have you had your furnace checked recently? It’s very cold outside.”

Ever since the Old Man packed his bags and checked into Graceland, more than 20 years ago, my mother has relished her independence. She lives in a small apartment about a quarter mile from my sister in Munster, Indiana. Although my sister regularly asks my mother to move in with her, Mom always refuses. She loves her little apartment. She likes the freedom to do whatever she wants and not have to answer to anyone. She says she enjoys the peace and quiet (the Old Man had an aggravating fondness for the Old Rip ‘n Roar). Mostly, though, she likes to get in her car and drive. “As long as I can drive,” she says, “I can take care of myself.”

The car is more than a means of transportation to her. It is a symbol that allows her to believe she is still a strong and vital woman, someone who lives her life according to her own rules. The sad truth is that she can no longer maintain that fiction. She is now a little old lady who needs help.

The next thing to consider, of course, is her housing situation. Soon she’ll have to give up her apartment and move into some sort of housing for the elderly. My sister has already been researching Assisted Living facilities. She found one not too far from her home and has begun negotiations.

My mother will, no doubt, put up a fight about giving up her apartment. She may not be as sharp as she once was, but she’s as feisty as ever. My sister and I will have to plan this next step in Mom’s life very carefully. This could very well be trickier than stealing her car. I just hope I don’t have to blackjack her, toss her in the trunk of my car and drive her to her new home in the middle of the night.

Ah, fuck it, might as well add kidnapping to my long list of felonies.

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