The Moral of the Story, Part 1
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The Moral of the Story, Part I<br>By Marc Porter Zasada<p>Here in L.A., I figure we can attach a simple moral to any story. You know: Trust your dreams. Avoid greed. So ever since I had my car stolen at gunpoint some years ago, I've been trying to find the moral in the tale.<p>Maybe you can help me out.<p>At the time, I still had a little two-door, along with a toddler strapped into a car seat in the back, where that afternoon my wife was amusing him as we raced along with a bag of take-out Chinese food. The boy was recently toilet trained, and just now he was wailing that he could not wait another second. So I pulled off on a side street with a discreet hedge. <p>You're thinking: okay, the moral's gotta be about judgment. Only a fool stops on a random side street in L.A. Get to a filling station, man. But hey, we were on the Westside.<p>Anyway, when we get back in the car, we hear a few loud pops, and I notice a guy in a natty white suit running right past us with a large gun. So I say to my wife, "Duck down."<p>Now you're ready with your second moral: "Dummy, when you hear gunshots in L.A., rev the engine and blow!"<p>But I'm sure I've seen lots of people duck down on TV.<p>In any case, when I dare to peek out the window, I find myself staring into the dark muzzle of a pistol held by another guy in a big hurry -- maybe because he's bleeding from a bullet wound in his rear end.<p>He says, "Get out. I need your car."<p>I say, "Sure thing," and I'm hardly out before he leaps into the driver's seat and slams the door.<p>"Wait," I shout, "my wife and kid are still in the back seat!" <p>The gunman hesitates, then says: "Okay, get them out too."<p>I'm sure Hollywood could find a moral there. <p>Now, remember it's a two-door -- so he has to ease back out of the car, and push the seat forward. In fact, some nice passerby, who I never got a chance to thank, comes over to help unbuckle my boy.<p>Finally, the gunman can resume his personal movie and he roars off to chase the guy in the natty white suit.<p>My wife and I exchange a look, then we run around the corner, where yes, we do find a gas station. But here's where you were wrong on your first moral, because it's obvious the gunfight started at the gas station. Cars are sprawled and people are looking shocked.<p>"All right," you say: "Time for some law and order." And yes, a cruiser does pull right up. I yell to the cop, "My car's just been stolen."<p>The cop says, "Jump in," and when I do, he roars off with me in his rear seat.<p>"Hey," I say, "We left my wife and kid behind!"<p>"Do you want your car back or not?" says the cop.<p>I yell, "I don't care!"<p>But he yells, "Stop ducking down, I need you to look for that car." As we roar around the neighborhood and the choppers arrive, it really is like a gaudy film -- but for some reason I'm not enjoying myself: even when we find my little coupe abandoned in an empty lot, doors open, bullet cartridges scattered. There's already another cop in the empty lot, and I'm handed over to him with the words, "Keep this guy here."<p>I say, "My wife and kid ..."<p>"You just stay cool," says the new cop, who naturally assumes I'm a ... suspect.<p>Hours pass. It gets dark in the empty lot. Searchlights scan the horizon, and the Urban Man is just achieving some zen-like level of metropolitan frustration when a voice crackles over the radio, "I'm at the gas station and I've got an uncooperative witness here."<p>"That's my wife!" I say.<p>We got the car back the next day, complete with a large bloodstain on the driver's seat and Chinese food strewn around the back.<p>So, again I ask: what is the moral of this little tale? "Keep your head?" "Appreciate every day miracles?" Me, I've thought long and hard about the exquisite randomness of that evening, and all I ever come up with is "If you live in L.A., never drive a two-door car -- you might have to get out of it in a hurry." Oh, and "Use a seatbelt on your bag of takeout." <p>Copyright -- 2006 Marc Porter Zasada. All rights reserved.<br>
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