…But that’s when I was young. Something dreadful happened as I got older: I started to think. And whenever I thought about my thieving ways, I couldn’t square it with what I knew to be right. Gradually, every thin pretext and half-baked rationalization dropped away from me like status from a dead man. Now this left me in a quandary. I knew what I had done was wrong but didn’t know how to put things right again. I mean, I wasn’t about to pay for all those books. Good lord, no. I only had a paper route, after all. And no matter how many newspapers I folded and porched (with Marino-like accuracy, if do say so myself), no matter how many fees I collected, my savings account weighed in at a waifish $93. To make matters worse, whenever I stepped foot in a bookstore or a library, hell, whenever I just saw a book, anywhere, I got nervous and fidgety as a horse before a storm. My stomach would snort and whinny so violently that I’d have to bolt for the bathroom lest I beshat myself. Some people have their conscience in their head or heart. Mine was in my gut, apparently. Irritable morality syndrome? You bet. Cruel punishment most condign. It’s been more than 25 years since I stole those books. And now that my savings account is safely on the plus-side of $93, I’m trying to contact John Wiechman or other former proprietors of a Clean Well-Lighted Place in Cupertino, CA, whose lights went dim in 1997. I owe you more than a beer.
Crime and Punishment (2 of 2)