This is a personal narrative I wrote in my English 100 class. It’s a true story about one night when I was a rebellious 16 year old. Oh how I miss the days of getting into mischief and not being old enough to be arrested. I don’t regret any of it because it has given me some interesting stories to tell. But I digress.
Title: Grand Theft Auto
The adrenaline is what gave my life that kick. My heart would pound every night I would sneak out the door. Getting caught meant grim consequences would follow. Plus, my friends were wimps and didn’t want to take their mom’s car at 1:00am in the morning for a joy ride. It’s one thing sneaking out of the house at 1:00am, but it’s another driving your parents’ car to town without a license. Perhaps my friends were smarter for not doing so.
Starting the car was the hardest part because it sat near the house. When I say “near” I actually mean “right next to”. Thinking of an excuse for starting it at such hours was a challenge. “I was listening to music and wanted to turn the A/C on.” Yeah, that was going to be my explanation.
I knew better than to take a joy ride with no license, but being the good kid of the group gets old. I wanted some thrill in my life. Sitting at home every weekend while my friends went out and had fun just wasn’t cutting it. The thought of getting caught and the relief of getting away with it really put some interest in my boring old life.
After doing it more and more I soon got used to the adrenaline. I loved it. It was insane but I loved the feeling. I loved making out my elaborate plan for every other weekend that I’d go out. I’d keep in close touch with my friends on the night of our escape to make sure that we met at an appropriate time. We’d ride almost every road in the county. It was perfect because no traffic is out at 2:00am in Lebanon. The roads are deserted at this time of night.
Who knows what would’ve happen if their parents found out? They would tell mine for sure or even called the police. I feared that the most. I had nothing on my permanent record and planned on keeping it that way.
At 11:00pm, I called Tyler.
“What’s up?” he replied.
“Nothin.” To get straight down to business I asked, “You ready for me to pick you up?”
“Yeah,” he said, “is it all right if Troy and Sabrina comes with us?”
“Sure,” I hesitated, “but… I kinda wanted to park somewhere and just walk around town tonight, so we don’t get pulled over or anything.”
“That’s cool,” he contently replied.
We briefly went over our plans and ended our conversation with a quick, “later.”
This was the part where I’d be most nervous. I’d pace my room and pray to God, Allah, Buddha, Jehovah, or anybody that nothing bad happened. Afterward I would slowly creep down the stairs and listen to my parents snore. Once I was sure they were both asleep I’d make my way to the back door. I had to tip toe like a solder walking through a mine field. My ancient wooden floor would creek and moan if you stepped on it the wrong way.
Thankfully, WD-40 kept the kitchen door from making a sound. Right out the door sat the grey 1996 Honda Accord. It was calling for me with its full tank of gas. I started it up and waited. I waited for the back door to open and expected to see a tired, confused face peek out demanding an explanation. Then I would use my lame excuse for starting the car and proceed to reschedule the night. On the other hand, after waiting for a minute or two, the door remained shut. To my knowledge, my parents remained asleep.
I put the car in reverse and backed out of the carport with ease. Neutral was the next step. With my adrenaline pumping and the Honda’s engine at idle, I used the emergency brake to stop so my tail lights wouldn’t attract anybody’s attention. I would coast to the end of the driveway and cautiously pull out onto the road after making sure another car wasn’t approaching. I’d drive 100ft or so using the moon for my light. Once I felt it was safe enough, I finally turned on my lights and picked up speed.
With the windows down, I drove the back roads. My hair was long at the time; down to my shoulders and the wind would blow it around the car. I listened to some death metal to distract me from my nervousness. I soon became excited. I was free now. I could do what I want.
I finally made it to the desolate Whislin’ Pig store, where I met Tyler, Troy, and Sabrina. I had known Tyler and Troy since middle school but would be meeting Sabrina for the first time. I pulled into the lot and parked. Tyler was wearing mostly dark clothing. I remember commenting to him about the size of his pant legs. They were huge. Troy had his casual attire on. The two put out their cigarettes and came to my car. Sabrina followed sitting in the back with Troy while Tyler had shotgun. We momentarily greeted each other and started our voyage to downtown.
Seeing no cops was a relief. I was still careful to drive as though I had a license. I made sure to do the speed limit and use my turn signal as much as possible. I considered myself a great driver. In fact, I was the best. This wasn’t the first night I had played grand theft auto. I was 14 when I made my first voyage at sneaking the car out. On this night, I was 16 and had just received my learner’s permit.
There was a specific place downtown that we liked to go and hang out. It was behind the old Hardees. Weeks ahead of time, we discovered a way to the top of the roof but couldn’t do it because it was during the day. However, tonight, the darkness gave us an advantage.
There was a ladder built into the back of the building, with a gate attached to the bottom. The gate was normally locked but the lock was missing on this night. Without hesitating, we opened the gate and climbed. The roof was uneven and made it difficult to walk. There were weird looking units lying all around. We had to be careful not to trip over them. After kicking around some objects, our small group soon became bored with the Hardees roof and decided to climb down and find a different place to waste time.
There was another abandoned building right next door to Hardees. It was an old PicPac grocery store. I hated that it ran out of business and closed. I loved going there on Saturdays when my mom would be at her meetings. I’d buy tons of candy and soft drinks to keep me occupied until the meetings were over.
There was nothing to do at the front of the store because, of course, the doors were locked. So the back of PicPac was the next best thing. There also wasn’t really anything special about the back. There wasn’t anything to vandalize or climb on. It was just the back of a typical grocery store. It was a hang out spot. To get to this exotic location we had to walk between the garbage bin structure and the back of the store.
A tractor-trailer had parked in the small lot behind the store. It shielded most of the area from the street light that sat nearby. As Tyler tried to make out some graffiti on the wall with the dim light that his lighter provided, an odd feeling told me to look under the semi-truck’s trailer. I crouched down in order to see under the flat trailer. I noticed a large woman in her house that sat across the street. I observed her for a short time as she talked on a phone. The TV was the only thing lighting the dark home. Getting off my hands & knees, I walked over to my friends to see what they’ve discovered.
Sabrina and Troy stood by Tyler, who was having trouble with his lighter. It flickered on and off. It finally stayed lit long enough for us to make out the graffiti. Then Troy asked, “What were you looking at under the trailer?”
“Some lady in her house across the street,” I gestured over to the house. Troy proceeded to look under the trailer as I had done while Sabrina made a call to one of her friends. Bored with PicPac, I said, “Let’s go somewhere else.”
My friends agreed it was time to leave. We began to walk back towards Hardees but before we could make it between the trash bin and the store, the sound of a gun being cocked stopped us in our tracks.
“Stay the fuck where you’re at,” the voice ordered.
We turned to see a man standing at the front of the semi-truck holding a gun. In the darkness, I couldn’t make out his face or the type of gun but I knew he meant business just by the fact that he had a gun.
Not knowing what to do or say, we stood there. If we ran, would he shoot us?
“Ya’ll tryin’ to catch this building on fire,” he demanded an answer.
Immediately, I thought of Tyler’s lighter.
“No sir,” Tyler was the first to answer, “somebody wrote on this wall and we were trying to read it.” It was the truth but who knows if the man believed it?
“What did ya do to my truck?”
“Nothing. We were looking under it,” Troy answered this time.
We looked very suspicious. There was no way he believed us. The truck driver continued, “There were some kids tryin’ to catch the building on fire last week. Ya’ll wouldn’t know anything about that would ya?”
Tyler became our spokesperson, “no sir. We were simply trying to read something. Can we please go?”
“No,” the truck driver told us, “I’ve already got the law called.”
“The law’s been called,” joined the large woman. It was the same woman I saw in the house. She stood between the dumpster bin and the building, blocking our path. It was now that we were desperate. Tyler, Troy, Sabrina, as well as myself, knew that I would be getting into the most trouble. I was the one that had the car. We begged the truck driver to let us go. I even bribed him only to hear him retort, “Shit, you ain’t got enough money.”
Frustrated and hopeless, I sat down on the asphalt. The trucker kept his watch along with the lady. We would’ve run but there was no place to hide. Running to the car was obviously not a smart plan in this situation. The large woman would’ve seen where we ran anyway.
My friends sat down with me. We quietly debated over what we were going to tell the police. We would not mention my car. We simply found a ride to town from a friend and were simply looking suspicious. That was the plan.
The only thing I could think about was my parents and what they would say if they found out about this little adventure. Thoughts and images went through my head. My dad is a very nice man and I hate when he scolds me, even for the smallest things. I had made him very angry once before and favored to never see him that angry again. I was doomed.
We soon saw the flashing blue lights of the police cars. Two policemen walked up to the truck driver. He gestured to us and the officers proceed to shine their flashlights at us. One officer made his way over to our group. He looked young; probably in his late 20s. He unsympathetically asked us our age.
“15,” Tyler was first.
“16,” I trembled.
“16,” said Troy.
“14,” Sabrina replied.
The officer walked back over to the truck driver and began questioning him as the other officer walked over to us. This officer was older and presented a mustache above his lips. He asked us our age just as Officer #1 did. We replied the same.
“Don’t you know the curfew is 1:00am for anybody under 18?” he asserted.
We didn’t reply. I looked at my watch. It was 1:30am.
Officer #2 proceeded to ask us if we were trying to vandalize the store and the semi-truck. We repeated our story. It was then that we were told to stand up and the officers searched us. Officer #2 didn’t seem as ornery as the first officer. Although he did promptly put me in my place when he felt of my retainer case in my pocket and asked what it was. I started to reach in my pocket to show him and he quickly grabbed my hand and asked the question again in a very stern voice. Fearing that he thought it was a weapon I quickly replied, “It’s my retainer case!” He felt of the object some more and gave me permission to take it out. I cautiously pulled the round case out of my pocket to show that it wasn’t a threat.
Soon after the policemen were done with their investigation, we were lead to their cruisers. I never saw exactly what the truck driver looked like but I saw him standing in the shadows with his gun as we walked to the police cars. It was a small riffle.
The officers drove us to the station. Officer #1 & #2 had lightened up a bit and began making small jokes as we arrived at the station. They told us that because nothing was damaged, the only thing we were doing wrong was being out past curfew. Seeing as we were underage, we needed to call a guardian that could pick us up from the police station and take us home otherwise stay at the police station all night. They favored that we call our parents. A cold sweat came across my face. I could just see my parents being disturbed by a phone call in the middle of the night, followed by news that their son was out past curfew. Then they’d walk out to get the car to come pick me up only to find that it’s missing. Consequently, they would tell the police that the car was missing, and I would be in some deep trouble with my parents and the law.
I dialed the number and the phone began to ring. All hope was lost. The phone kept ringing. I was prepared to come out with everything; even the car. To my surprise, nobody answered. I sighed with relief. Troy and Sabrina couldn’t get in touch with their parents either. So it was up to Tyler to get us out of this situation. Keep in mind that the car is still parked behind Hardees.
Tyler’s first attempt for a rescue was his sister, but she had been drinking and we couldn’t be under her responsibility. His next call would have to be to his mom, Vicky.
Vicky arrived at the station wearing her pajamas and a robe. She had a very tired and irritated look on her face. She scolded Tyler first and then me. She was going to tell my mom in the morning. Lucky for me, she didn’t know about the car. After our lecture we marched to her vehicle.
Tyler’s mom was furious. The four of us were silent. The only thing running through my mind was, “How am I going to get the car back?” She pulled her car up to my house and dropped me off. I went inside and watched the car fade off through a window.
Now I was stuck at home, and the car was stuck in town. I was panicking. I was desperate to get that car back. Walking to town would be my last resort but I wasn’t afraid to walk 5 miles to town just to get it back. I tried calling all my friends. Those who answered couldn’t help me. Imagine a pressure gauge. This gauge shows the amount of pressure your adrenaline is creating. The red lines on this gauge is where stress begins. My gauge was busted.
Finally, with a stroke of luck, I got a hold of my friend, Lauren, who happened lived across the road. I begged her to help me and she kindly said, “Yes”. She didn’t have her license either but she was the only person that could help me at the time.
We got into the green Infinity that sat in my garage. I was getting myself deeper and deeper into trouble and this time I would take Lauren along with me. I carefully backed the car out of my garage and got to the end of the driveway. It was grand theft auto all over again.
I drove to town quickly but cautiously while describing my predicament to Lauren. We reached the old Hardees building and I stopped beside the Honda. I took a brief moment to look around. Nobody was in sight. I asked Lauren if she really wanted to do this. She said, “Yes.”
I got in the Honda and started it up as quickly as I could. Lauren had already left with the Infinity. I followed her back to my house where she parked the Infinity in the garage and I parked the Honda in its place under the carport. Before I exited the vehicle I reset the miles. Then I checked the car to make sure it was in the exact spot that it was before I left that night.
After thanking Lauren with a hug, I dragged myself up to my room. I had never been so thankful. I still got in trouble for being out past curfew but I was glad that was the only thing my parents found out about. I got away with grand theft auto—kind of.
I was a very lucky person that night. Of course if we had been more persuasive, perhaps the truck driver would have let us go or maybe if we had run, we would have gotten away. The fact is, I’m glad it turned out the way it did. I’m a person who usually learns their lesson and never took my mom’s car for joy rides again until I received my license. I also stopped hanging out at the back of abandoned buildings. Before that night, and ever since that night, I had never felt so distressed and relieved at the same time. Will I ever tell my parents? Maybe when I’m older, just for laughs.