“Dad, my wetsuit is gone!” my brother Genji stammers.
We’re on school holidays and we’ve been surfing all day, every day. I’m neat and conscientious so after every surf my wetsuit is turned the right way around, and hung up neatly in the laundry, sand perfectly rinsed out of its crevices.
My board is placed neatly in the board rack Dad made, the leg rope wrapped tightly around the tail.
Genji isn’t like me. His wetsuit is strewn haphazardly over the back fence, his surfboard dumped in the middle of the pathway up from the rocky beach below.
So I guess that’s why his stuff got stolen, instead of mine.
His two wetsuits and his three boards (he was sponsored so he got cool gear) gone. Vanished into thin air.
Dad was ropeable.
Later that day my uncles came over and Dad furiously told them what had happened.
My Uncle Insect reckoned that crims always return to the scene of the crime.
And with that remark, a plan was formulated. My uncles would stay over the night, each taking turns with Dad to keep an eye out for the thief.
Mum disapproved of the plan. She didn’t say anything, but she muttered under her breath and swept around everyone’s feet with a kind of determined energy.
Where Mum comes from (Tahiti) people borrow stuff from each other all the time. It’s rude to lock your door when you go out. What if one of your cousins needs to borrow money, thongs or have a shower, and you’ve locked them out?
As the shadows in the backyard grew longer and nightfall approached, the criminals got bigger and scarier in my mind.
It was a bikie gang. On the warpath. They probably had tattoos. Knuckle dusters. Guns. And a couple of big scary German Shepherds with spiked dog collars.
In bed I tossed and turned. I must’ve fallen asleep at some stage because the sound of the door crashing open and footsteps running across the front yard jolted me awake sometime after midnight.
Terrified, I leapt to my feet and quickly pulled back the curtains. Under the pale white glow of the streetlight I saw it all unfold before me.
My uncle, wearing nothing but his undies, wrestles someone to the ground. It’s him! The thief!
A second later, my Dad and my other uncle run into the picture, carrying a roll of chicken wire between them.
Together, they begin to roll him up, like a lumpy spring roll.
The vigilantes stand back and look down at their bounty, rolled up on the driveway before them.
There’s a long silence and then they all start talking and gesticulating at once.
I can’t discern any actual words but it’s clear they disagree on what to do next.
The next thing I know, Dad’s back in the house dialling the local police station.
“Hi there, I’ve performed a citizen’s arrest. I’ve caught a thief and secured him outside my home, ready for collection and processing” he barks down the line.
A few minutes later, a cop car pulls up, and two portly policeman climb out.
Flabbergasted, they stare at the scene before them, the surfboard thief yelling wildly for help, struggling in his wire cocoon.
They rush to his side, kneel down and begin to unroll him, one of the cops lecturing Dad all the while.
“Look mate, you just can’t go around rolling people up in the dead of the night!”
Finally free, the surfboard thief leaps to his feet and runs to the cop car, jumping in the backseat and locking the door behind him.
He couldn’t get away fast enough.
I’m not sure what happened to him next, but I’d wager anything was better than Dad’s low-rent Batman performance.
And when Genji finally got his boards back, he never left them out on the path again.
Not sure if there’s a lesson or anything in this story. Just a memory from my childhood that cracks me up.
I thought you might enjoy a laugh too, champ.