Sunday, November 18, 2012

Possibly the Best Story Told in a Garage - Ever

It’s been cold and raining the past few weekends. You’d think it was November in Oregon or something. Oh wait…it IS November in Oregon! Garaging opportunities have been slim, but we’ve had the fun instead of friends and family visiting. In fact, we put the fam to work! Cousin Lillian and BIL/SIL Bob & Linda helped clear 30+-year-old ground covers from the front yard, and we planted 25 ornamental grasses.


Would have taken Steven and me weeks to get them all in, which I know is true because it’s taking us weeks to plant the 3 dozen heather plants we bought a while back. Only 2 dozen of those left to go in…


But this weekend I was determined to do some garaging. It’s still cold and raining (and raining and raining) but I didn’t care, I needed to drive around and talk to strangers and poke through their stuff. I managed to spend three bucks and come home with

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a couple of towels (lots of wet dogs to dry off these days), some useful little candles, a free lantern for the yard, and some scrapbooking magazines. I have no plans to ever take up scrapbooking, but they were free and suitable as eye candy, and when I’m done with them I’ll leave them at the library on the magazine exchange table for someone else to enjoy.

Which is all great, but what I really came home with is possibly the best story I’ve ever been told by a stranger in their garage. And I’ve been told some good stories over the years, but this one…well, judge for yourself.

When I walked up to the sale in a garage a couple of miles from home, I was greeted by a lady a few years older than me. “Thank you SO much for braving the weather to come to my sale!” I laughed and told her she had picked an interesting time to hold it. “Well, I moved yesterday, and today I’m having a sale, and tomorrow I’ll clean this house and then I’ll be done.” She told me she’s moved in with her significant other. He had been staying at her place most nights, and when they realized he owns his home and she rents they figured they ought to rethink this. I said something about still hanging out with my starter husband, which started her off talking about her ex.

“He had bypass surgery a while back, and when he came out of the anesthetic, you know what he said to me? ‘I’ve decided that now I’m going to do what I’ve always wanted to do.’ So I asked him what that was, and he said, ‘I’m going to be a crook.’”

I’m sure my eyes goggled out. I was expecting some bucket-list activity like buying a motorcycle or going to space camp or dog sledding in Greenland. “A crook?”

“Yeah, he said he wanted to be a crook. He owned a garage, and he had hired this mechanic, I never could stand the guy. I just knew he was no good. So what they did was start running guns to South America.”

“What!” I yelped. She nodded.

“My ex knew how to fly a plane, but he didn’t have a license, and neither did the other guy. But they bought a plane and found someone who let them fly in and out of a field on their farm. And they’d buy guns somewhere and take them down there and sell them.”

“Like to drug cartels or something?”

She shrugged. “Probably, I don’t know.” Then she started telling me about their dog. “We had this little Peke-a-poo, and when we split up he kept the dog because I moved into an apartment and couldn’t have pets. He was so cute, just a great little dog.” I looked sympathetic. “So my ex started taking the dog with him on these trips.”

“He ran illegal guns to South America with a Peke-a-poo?"

“Yup. He called me up one night to tell me what a great time he was having, and he was all excited because they let him take the dog into restaurants down there.”

Now, I might have taken this story with a grain of salt, but once the Peke-a-poo entered the picture, all doubts fled. No one could have made up that detail. “Did he make money?” I asked. “Is he still doing it?”

“I guess he made money, but he stopped after what happened on his last trip. They sold the guns, and one of the buyers was going with them into town so they could get something to eat. They were walking along, and two guys with knives jumped out of an alley to rob them. And the escort pulled out a gun and shot and killed one of them. My ex and his partner ran for their plane and took off and never went back.”

So once again my belief that you never know what you’ll find when you’re shopping on driveways is validated. And I eagerly await whatever story may surpass a gun-running Peke-a-poo, somewhere down the road. 

Dog taking airplane trip, Driggs Aircraft Corporation promotional photograph, October 1929

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