Trying to be the “Artful Dodger” and Failing

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Just before my birthday, my father had returned from Germany with a briefcase filled with money, which he kept in his wardrobe. It was a mark of his trust in Hubby that he never bought a safe for the money, I was to be responsible for putting that trust to the test.

My father had overextended himself in opening too many branches in rapid succession and had been forced to take out a loan from a Mr Turbyn, some sort of loan shark. There was no paperwork, only a hand shake. The terms of repayment were to be over the next five years at some inflated interest rate. As it turned out Mr Turbyn waited just long enough for my father to convert the cash that he had lent my father into stock and then foreclosed on the loan knowing full well that my father had no way of raising that sort of money from the banks as he was already up to his maximum overdraft limits.

Springbok Office supplies was declared bankrupt, so money had become a little tighter in our household. When my birthday was looming on the horizon, I asked my father when we were going to go shopping for my birthday present, just the two of us, as was usual. He told me that there was no money for birthday presents that year which I knew to be a lie as he had a whole briefcase full of the stuff.

As I had already been successful in stealing money, I came up with a plan to get a birthday present. The night before my birthday I sneaked into my parents’ room long after midnight, the dark corridor being the scariest part of the whole escapade, and removed a few notes from his wallet which turned out to be thirty Rands. The afternoon of my birthday I took all my friends on a shopping spree, buying boxing gloves, Corgi model cars, Airfix model airplanes and treats for all.

Karen was aware that I had stolen the money and when we returned home it took all my attention to keep her under observation to prevent her from telling. My father returned rather earlier than normal that evening and called Hubby into the lounge and accused her of stealing the thirty Rands. When she protested her innocence she was given the night to find the money and return it or she would be fired in the morning. To my eternal shame, even with the threat of Hubby’s dismissal hanging over my head, I did not own up to secure her position and clear her name. I remained quiet.

This time as it was my birthday I had bought tangible goods in other words physical evidence of the crime which had been hidden in a hollow of the driveway hedge, a place I used to hide in when I was in trouble and my mother was looking for me. Fortunately for Hubby she had noticed the close attention that I was paying Karen and when it was my turn to have a bath she managed to illicit a confession from her. My father was duly informed and the evidence retrieved from its hiding place.

When I entered my bedroom my father was standing shoulders slumped in the middle of the room with the boxing gloves held in his right hand. He then gave me the opportunity to confess, let’s give him his due, by asking me where I had got the various things from. Even though I was aware that the goods had been retrieved from a place that my parents did not know about I still tried to lie my way out of the mess that I was in. I told him that they belonged to David T, the first name to spring to mind.

I was told to go to the car and we proceeded up the road to David’s house where he was questioned. Having his father there who was after all a minister of God, David could not lie for me. So I was taken home, marched to my room and then beaten for the only time in my life. My father used the boxing gloves that he still held in his right hand to hit me from one end of the room to the other, tears pouring down his face. I was then again put in the car and taken down to Parkview police station, where the senior officer had me locked in a cell.

They left me there crying for about two hours, then the officer came in and explained that if I did not stop stealing I would spend a lot of time behind steel bars like I had for the past few hours. I was then handed back to my parents and was taken home. No charges were laid. Three days confined to my room.

That night I was taught a very valuable lesson and have never since taken anything that does not belong to me. Even when I am given too much change I find it impossible to take the excess as I know that somebody else would have to pay for my greediness.

Lots of Hugs and more,

Peggy-Sven

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