Gas Thief

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I grew up as a farmer’s son, the first nineteen years of my young life. Our small farm lay on the outskirts of a fast-spreading, county-seat town of 15,000 population. Dad, Mom, and I ran a 100 cow dairy herd on 200 acres and made a subsistence living at it, although twice a year Dad would broach the subject of selling the farm to developers and finding some better-paying means of making a living.

One situation that raised our operating costs—and if you pleased, lowered our ‘take-home pay,’—was buying fuel for our tractors and other engine-powered equipment such as the hay baler, swather, harrow-bed, silage & hay chopper, and our two farm trucks. Although diesel power was fast taking over, we still used several machines with gasoline engines. And therein lay one of our costs: Gasoline theft. Thieves didn’t much bother our neighbors who’d already converted to diesel (because diesel fuel gums up gas engines), but as fewer and fewer farmers ran gasoline tractors, more and more ‘gas theft pressure’ descended upon our tractors and the fuel supply we kept for them.

Occasionally an article ran in our town’s weekly newspaper with a photo of a gas thief’s car with a shotgun hole blasted through its driver’s door or trunk lid—along with the sheriff’s admonition that he would not tolerate an owner using such methods to defend his property. Along with that came a repeat of his blurb making it clear he felt jail was appropriate punishment for any miscreant who did so.

But if an owner caught a thief in the act and called the cops, all the Sheriff’s office did was scold the fuel owner for getting the officers out of their cozy office for something so trivial, then turned the thief loose. As you’d expect, such a low level of law enforcement did little to reduce gasoline theft. So, Dad and I had to change something. On average, we were losing $20 each week, and right then, we couldn’t afford to trade off our perfectly functional gasoline-powered machines and replace them with diesels.

Let me tell you, it gets really tiresome sleeping in a sleeping bag in the tractor shed alongside the gas tractors with a loaded shotgun for a pillow.

So, I came up with the my own solution. This past Christmas, Dad and Mom gave me a game-trail camera to assist with me with hunting. You set these things up along a game trail, and a week later you come back, then look at the pictures the camera’s motion sensor has taken over the past week to see if any game you’re interested in has come down that trail. And with the built- in clock, if any game of interest were to come by again, the time stamp answered the question, ‘What would be the most likely time to catch them there?’

I never had much luck spotting game on the farm this way, but the second night I had the camera set up in front of our tractor shed, a thief got his picture taken. Although the thief’s face was clearly visible, the Sheriff’s Department informed us they wouldn’t arrest the guy, because cameras such as mine were ‘unreliable’ and any photos they took were inadmissable in court.

The deputy quipped that the only way was to shoot the guy in the act, then call the department. (You’ll notice this advice contradicted the Sheriff’s newspaper articles mentioned above! And would risk putting us in jail for doing so!). So, I knuckled under and decided to find another way. I hesitated to set a cocked bear trap out there in front of the shed—I like dogs, you know, and it’s illegal setting a trap like that besides. But so? The thief I’d catch was clearly trespassing with the obvious intent to commit theft. But such is another of our state’s stupid laws.

But mid-week after I reset the camera, what did I catch? A young woman trying to siphon gas out of our loader tractor, the one we seldom put more than a gallon or two into because we expected to completely consume that much during whatever chore we had in mind for it. I don’t think she got much.

This girl, same age as me, was the daughter of the State Senator who lived in an expansive (and expensive) development closer to town. So next day, I filled the loader tractor’s gas tank and trolled it past the Senator’s fancy, white fence several times. ‘Exhibiting the bait,’ right? Isn’t that what they call it when you do this when you’re ‘fishing’?

So? I figured I had several choices. First was the old ‘sugar in the gas tank trick’. If you have a good, tight, shut-off valve between your gas tank and your tractor engine, you shut the valve off firmly, then put a gallon of gasoline or two with common baking sugar dissolved in it into the tank. When they steal that gas, put it in their tank, and try to drive away, their engine will run for a short time, then all that sugar will convert to carbon and seize the engine—solid. The engine will be ruined. After that, the car can only be made runnable by installing a new engine and spending a lot of money doing so.

Then there was choice number two. Use my trail camera to help figure out a likely ‘try again’ schedule for her, then with that in mind, figure out where she would be parking her car while she canlı bahis pilfered our gas, then go blow holes in all four tires and maybe put a few more through the glass and into its body, just to get the point across that stealing gas—or anything else—has consequences you may not like.

Just a technical note here for you who may not be knowledgeable about firearms: Unlike a shot from a common handgun or rifle, a blast from a shotgun is nearly impossible to trace back to a particular gun, so there was little danger of them tracing my blasts back to my 12 gauge. And a 12 gauge makes a very nasty hole at close range. If I planned it reasonably well when I shot her tires out, I could likely destroy two with each shot. Wonder how she’d like explaining to her Senator-father why she needed four new tires put on that little Mercedes convertible of hers?

Then there was choice number three. Catch her in the act, then punish her in ways that didn’t injure her looks. And quite wonderful looks they were: Tall, slim, pleasant face, dark hair and feminine features most women would kill for, and when she used her brain as she should have instead of for stealing gas, usually pleasant to be around—’usually’, meaning when she restrained her holier than thou, spoiled senator’s brat-daughter outlook on life.

Beings I’m a rather nice guy, I ruled out suguring the gasoline she would steal, then ruining her little car that way.

Also, I just couldn’t bring myself to shoot holes all over her little car’s body, glass, and tires. I’d been trained all my life to protect and preserve nice things because some day you might find yourself needing them. That’s an example of farmer-boy upbringing, for you.

So, I was left with choice number three. Or should I say I was left with choice number two-point-five. I did take my .22 rifle down to where I’d found her car sitting, it pulled off the road through a gate into one of our hayfields where she had no business being. There, with the rifle, I disabled one of her Michelins she’d already run 98% of its tread off. Then I returned to our farmstead and parked at the house.

With my loaded 12 gauge in hand, I crept out to the machine shed where we normally parked the loader tractor each night. One thing I’ll say about Francine: She’ll never make it as a sneak thief. God, that woman was noisy! But apparently she had gotten some gas out of the loader tractor, enough to fill one 5-gallon can, and had starting filling the second.

I picked up a baseball-sized stone and tossed it against the far side of the tin building. The resounding clatter grabbed her attention, you can bet on that! She quickly slunk to the gravel and compact clay floor. I said nor did anything that made another sound.

After maybe two minutes of silence, her forehead appeared above the loader tractor’s hood, her gaze darting around like a rabbit stalked by a bobcat. I gave her another few minutes to panic, but when she didn’t, I heaved another stone toward the opposite side of the tractor shed. She dodged down again, and from where I stood hidden, I watched her hug the side of the loader tractor as if it were her sole protector.

“Who’s there?” she finally said, just her forehead peering above the tractor’s hood.

“The owner of that gas you’re stealing.”

“I’m not stealing it.”

“Oh, yeah? What you call what you’re doing.”

“I’m … I’m … I’m ….”

“You’re stealing gas, that’s what.”

“No, I’m not. I’m only borrowing it.”

“Bull shit, you little gas thief. Did you see that picture on the front page of the Mid-County Tribune last week? The one where that farmer blasted a hole clean through the driver’s door of a gas thief’s car? I got a gun here, just like the one that did that. That thief had a car door protecting his body from that gun—at least somewhat. The article said doctors think he’ll survive. I don’t think what you’re wearing will slow down this gun’s blast one bit, and I’m a lot closer than he was, too.”

“No! No, no! Please, no!”

“Why should I not? This is at least the second time you tried to seal gas from us, so it’s no accident. Didn’t get much last time did you?”

“The tank was empty, so I didn’t get any gas.”

“But you figured since I drove that tractor past your parent’s house today, I must have filled the tank, right?”

She mumbled something I couldn’t make out.

“Right?”

“Okay. Yes. I saw you.”

“And you thought to yourself, there goes another tank of gas, ‘one I can steal tonight.’ Is that right?”

“Yes.” she mumbled

I waited to see what she’d come up with next—if anything. But she didn’t. So I figured it was my turn again.

“I don’t know what I should do,” I said. “I could just blow your whole face off with this shotgun. You know how many little round BBs come out of this type of gun in one shot? Fifty or so at once. You wouldn’t have any face left—if you survived. But I hate ruining such a pretty face, so maybe I should shoot you in the thigh instead. That would nearly rip your whole bahis siteleri leg off, maybe chew away the bone, too. You’d look pretty pitiful hobbling around on one leg. Crutches are a bitch, you know. So is a wheelchair. Like those artificial legs you see on the Wounded Soldier fund campaign ads. But then that might not bother you because you’d probably die before the ambulance got here, anyway. But, I can tell you, it would hurt like hell while you were dying.”

“Please! No!”

“You must be awful stupid,” I said. “This makes me wonder how a woman pretty as you can do such stupid things. Is twenty bucks worth of gas worth getting your leg blown off for?”

“Please, no! Please!”

“At least those wounded soldiers were doing something for their country. Why you stealing our gas? For kicks? Just because you think you can get away with it? You think Daddy will bail you out if you get caught? No matter how stupid you act? You’re so stupid I should blow you leg off and let you die. That way at least you won’t breed more stupid babies to fuck up the human gene pool even worse.”

“Please don’t kill me. Please?”

“Why not?”

“Please, no!”

“I asked you why not. You got no better reason than to beg? Almost always when someone begs it’s because they’re trying to get the beggee to do something he damned well knows he shouldn’t. Are you telling me I should wipe you out of the human gene pool? For the good of the human race?”

She went silent for a moment, then genuine tears (I think) gushed from the hands she held over her eyes.

I aimed the shotgun toward the sky outside the tractor shed and touched off round

. That shot went toward the 747 vapor trail glistening in the moonlight overhead. That did it; she broke and broke big time. I think she actually thought I’d shot her leg off! She felt along both thighs, then looked my direction. She must have no idea what a serious injury feels like—like falling off a baled hay stack and breaking two ribs.

“Please, whoever you are. Don’t kill me. Please!”

“So, back to my question. Why not?”

“I don’t want to die. Please?”

“At this stage, I don’t give a shit what a gas thief says she wants.”

“But I …”

“I’ve got dozens of pictures of you in my automatic trail camera here, stealing our gas. What will your senator-father think if I show those to the newspaper just before our next election? I’ll bet I can ruin any chance of him ever being re-elected—or elected for anything. How you like that idea? I wonder how your mother will take to that?”

“Please, no. Not Mommy and Daddy, too?”

“Better than losing your face or a leg, isn’t it?”

She looked down, half-dried tears running down her forearms, matting among some genuine farm dirt she’d rubbed off the tractor. After a moment she nodded.

“In case you never thought long enough to realize: My family relies upon what we make playing nurse-maid to our hundred cows on this 200 acres, to put food on our table, pay our medical bills, pay our property and sales taxes that pay your father’s bloated state salary, pay our power and light bills, pay our insurance, keep our machinery and cars running, and everything else. What have you ever done to earn your keep?”

Amongst her sobs I heard, “Nothing.”

“So? What good are you? What can you do that makes anyone’s life more pleasant … more fun? Just steal gas?”

“I don’t know. I just needed gas and Daddy cut off my credit card before they left because I didn’t sweep out the garage like he told me to.”

“Told you to? Or asked you to?”

“Asked, really.”

“So you couldn’t even do that right?”

After a moment, she sighed a weak, “No.”

I gave her a minute or so for that to sink in. Then I decided to get to the nut-cuttin.’ “I don’t know, but you are pretty good looking. When a woman gets hard enough up, she sells her looks and everything else that goes with it.”

“I … Couldn’t … I … not for gas.”

“Yes, you could, but to be successful, you’d have to work real hard and learn to be real good at it. There’s always plenty of competition for sex.”

My pause gave her more time for that to sink in.

“I’d be a whore. That’s what I’d be.”

“Yes you would. But considering what you’ve already done here tonight, you already are.”

“Me? A whore?”

“That’s right. When you decided to steal our gas, your morals slid right down past those of a common whore—even lower. At least an honest whore gives something to the guy for his money. You didn’t even offer that.”

“Oh, no!”

“Yes, Francine. You crossed the line. Now anything is fair game. So what you going to give me for that five gallons of gas you’re stealing from me?”

“Your gas? I’m taking your gas?”

“Somebody’s got to pay for it.”

“But it’s your parents’, isn’t it?”

“In my family we pay for what we get.”

“Pay?”

“Just like when I fill my pickup’s tank from our farm’s gas pump, I mark down the gallons and repay Mom and Dad. I pay them room and board bahis şirketleri to live here, too. They pay me to work around here, just as if I were a hired hand … which I am, really.”

“But your parents? Shouldn’t they just give you a place to live? And feed you? Because they’re your parents?”

“I’m an adult, so I work and pay my own way … I have, since long before I graduated.”

“Ooohh, boy!”

“So, someone has to pay Mom and Dad for that gas you’ve siphoned into your can, there. I guess it will be me, since I don’t see any way you’re going to do that since your father cut off your gravy train card.”

“Couldn’t I just borrow it? A loan? Maybe from you for a while?”

“To get a loan, the borrower must have collateral, something that shows he can and will repay the loan—like I have a history with Mom and Dad of working around here and paying back what I borrow. The only history you have is being a noisy gas thief, and a piss poor one at that. The ground around there looks like you’ve wasted as much gas as you got into your can.”

“Yeah, guess I did. Stinks, too.” That sounded like defeat.

“You did.” I left ‘what now?’ hanging on the end of that.

“Simon? You are Simon, aren’t you?” she said, stepping closer now, and looking up. “I’d work real hard at being nice to you, really I would. Please don’t tell Momma and Daddy if I do. Please? And don’t shoot my leg off? I’ll be the best I can. Wouldn’t that start a history for collateral and paying back? Wouldn’t you like that enough to loan me some gas?”

I thought about that a moment. I mean, after all, a person must begin adult life somewhere, right? And Francine had a lot of beginning to do. “What you got in mind?”

“How about …?”

“What?”

“How about I treat you as nice as I can, and we call it even for this can full of gas? We can put what’s in this other can back in the tractor, can’t we?”

Well, if her ‘nice as she could be’ was nice enough, that might suffice. I guess I shouldn’t have agreed, but I did. “I’ll get a funnel so we can pour this half-bucket back into the loader. One fuck’s not worth more than five gallons.”

“Oh, Simon? You’ll forgive me, won’t you? I mean if I’m not really very good at first? You won’t say I didn’t give good collateral, will you? Afterwards?”

Hell! In my limited experience, I wasn’t so sure I’d know excellent collateral from not so great collateral, but how could I go wrong? I did find her collateral looking better each time I looked her way.

***

When we got that half can of gas poured back into the loader tractor, time had come for Francine to earn her five gallons. She stood there, looking at me, as if she had little or no idea how to take her next step toward earning her way in life.

“Ready?” I said.

She nodded, but made no move to ‘transfer value’ (as they call it regarding a business deal).

“Well? Take off your shirt and jeans.”

She gave me a look that said she had yet to accept what she’d already promised. But her hand moved hesitantly to her shirt buttons and began undoing them, one at a time, beginning from the bottom.

I supposed my face took on an expression of satisfaction, so I thought I should say something. By the time I got my face to work, I’d nodded, and came up with a look of appreciation.

She blushed, for god’s sake. Really she did!

With a nod I said, “Pretty nice.”

Her hand moved more quickly as it released the rest of her shirt buttons. Francine was getting into the act and, I think, finding she enjoyed doing something so naughty.

“Now my undershirt?”

“Of course. You can’t properly show collateral by keeping it hidden.” ‘No delay now in displaying the bait,’ I thought.

As she slid her undershirt off her shoulders, she looked up with a coy smile. I tried not to show too much enthusiasm. She definitely had hidden her supply of collateral well.

“My bra, too?”

“You bet. I’m going to work those beautiful titties of yours so they help earn your collateral.”

“Really?” The way she said that really said, ‘I hope I’ll like this.’

Yes, they looked good. So I nodded, discreetly.

‘What next?’ came onto her face.

“Get those jeans off so I can dream about how good you look with both legs still on.”

She scrambled, almost recklessly, getting her boots and jeans off, then looked up.

“And your panties.”

Her hands impulsively flicked to cover what her panties did, but I gave her an encouraging look that brought those lacy things down.

“Now? What you think? Are you ready?”

She looked around as if somehow this wasn’t yet going to happen. I nodded an ‘of course it will’ look to her.

“Okay, the pre-game show’s over and it’s time you began earning your can of gas. Come over here and bend over this tractor’s front wheel. You can hold yourself up by holding on to its axle.”

She looked at me with sort of a dumb look on her face.

“Come on,” I said with my hand’s motion in that direction. “It’s not really going to hurt much. I know you’re no virgin.” I’d heard some classmates two years back when I was a high school senior betting, and most bet against her virginity, so there must be truth buried in that somewhere.

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