So last night Yvonne is out with our daughter who has freshly become a teenager to so some ‘girl stuff’, whatever that is. I don’t ask. I’m home with my boy sitting on the couch in our underwear watching the Braves beat the Cubs, eating popcorn. ‘Boy stuff’. The drama and stress of the day melt away as my 7 year old son Brendan asks things like “why do the umpires look so fat?” and, “why does the pitcher spit so much?” 7th inning stretch and we throw popcorn back and forth at each other giggling like two 7 year olds. Our weenie dog feasts on the discards and suddenly the fun is pierced by my TV beeping then scrolling a message across the screen that “LoJack is calling” and “your motorcycle may have been moved without authorization” taking my heart rate from 50 tranquil beats a minute to fast forward. Backing up a year, I sit in Tom Gibby’s Office at Killer Creek Harley contemplating the “LoJack” option on my new bike. 2011 HD Road Glide. I’ve had it on various cars and figured it would be piece of mind but hopefully never needed. Its not a cheap option but has no monthly fee and the service lasts as long as I own the bike. So I buy the Lo-Jack. I confess I occasionally hit the road without the fob setting off calls to cell phones, home phones, office phones, alarming wife and staff. All designed to keep my bike right where I left it. This time is different. Me and the boy just left the bike in the back driveway an hour before. A quick scoot to the community pool to quell the 100 degree heat wave. A half restored Triumph blocked the garage bay so we opted to leave the black Harley outside for the night. We gazed up at twinkling stars and sense no rain. One night, good weather, nice neighborhood, plus – I’ve got LoJack!
So I jump from the couch, startling my son. He senses urgency but does not know what LoJack is. I order him to stay put on the couch, pointing my index finger to express the exigency of the moment. I run barefoot in my boxers to the adjoining room where my Glock ‘21’ .45 auto is locked bedside in a small ‘fingerprint’ safe. I finger the pad and the door pops open. Small kids, necessary precaution. In an instant I am cat like down the front steps and stealthily out the front door to circle around and surprise my thief!! Clearly this is not a well thought out plan. While I am not a ‘gun nut’ I’ve always been a sport shooter and a moderately avid hunter. This is a scenario most gun owners go over in their head at some point. I imagine a scruffy figure lanky and thin who cased my place and came back in darkness. A million scenarios race through my mind. I realize I am not ‘inside’ my house, I am in my ‘yard’. Big difference. Questions flash in my brain like: is he (they) armed too, are there 2 of them, 3 of them, is there a lookout, etc..?? I know what you are thinking. Stay inside, call the police, turn on all the floodlights, yea, yea, yea – I just told you, this is my Harley. Besides, I just bought this new .45 and haven’t shot one person with it yet. I sneak down my own back driveway 30 or 40 seconds after the call and my adrenaline pumps. I realize how crazy I must look. A middle aged guy naked sans yellow Corona Light boxer shorts, Glock in hand crouched and squinting into my own back yard!! Yea, felt as looney as it sounds. I hear no movement, no voices. I see the dark silhouette of my bike leaning left on its kickstand, right where I left it. I see nothing past the wood line and keep hidden in shadow at the edge of my house, scanning for would be thieves. Whew, was my thought, that was weird. I take a breath and realize I have no phone, big mistake. Just as I am about to relax and chuckle to myself I see a figure at the far side of my yard. Adrenaline spike! Landscape lighting outlines his frame 200 feet from me. I peer around the corner of the house and focus on the figure 100 feet past my bike. He is alone at the edge of my property facing my neighbor’s house 15 feet inside my boundary. I can see he is facing away from me looking into a yard fountain we stock with koi fish. ‘WTF’ is my thought?? Is he going to steal my bike or my fish? I’ve heard that happens. I decide to approach slowly gun down. I’ve got a death grip on my pistol two handed creeping across the grass keeping the stone pillars of my deck between us. 8 pillars, each of us near an end pillar. I wish I could flick the lights on but cannot. I’m careful not to raise the gun or finger the trigger. I move past the bike and within 30 feet and 2 pillars of him. His back is still to me in the darkness at the edge of my yard. In the moonlight I see he is bare footed, khaki shorts, collared golf shirt. Something is not adding up. I decide to call out. He’ll either spin and shoot at me, but I’ve got stone pillars 4 feet wide between us, or he’ll bolt into the wood line. I call out “Hey” as gruff and authoritatively as I can. My neighbor (as well as my dentist) Bob turns around and smiles. “Hi” he says with a big grin, not knowing the happenstance that has befallen him. “Saw a light over here and crossed the bushes”. “Fountain looks great at night, your fish are getting big”. Holy shit is my thought. It’s not until then that I realize how windy it is. Pre storm gusts across my yard, maybe enough to shift the bike on its stand? What a wild coincidence: wind shifts bike, LoJack calls, curious neighbor crosses yard, I run naked from house with gun, horrible end to a sadly ironic chain of stupid events!! But alas, no harm no foul. I am careful to hide the weapon behind the pillar. He apologizes for startling me and we laugh. He really is a good neighbor. We’re always checking on each other’s houses. We both travel a lot, we both have wives, kids, watching out for each other. Except you throw the emotion of a Harley Davidson into the fray and quick decisions can become bad ones. Cooler heads prevail I suppose. A lesson for us all: Garage the Harley, Never wear yellow boxers, call 911 first and for God’s sake, don’t shoot your neighbor – Lo-Jack will find the bike for you!!
Remember, ride strong, ride safe, and in the end, make sure you ride home. Written by Steve Murrin, The Original Biker Lawyer.