8:50 P.M. Saturday night. I arrive at My new house with My mom, My sister and her two boys to celebrate a little housewarming/Mother's Day evening.
The front gate that closes off the house is open.
The door is unlocked.
My laptop is gone.
My laptop. Gone.
The computer I've been using every day for almost three years, the computer that holds all My current work and almost all of My past work since 1997, is gone. Stolen.
And I have no backup for any of it.
A few years ago, My friend James O'Malley, El Gringoqueño, told Me I was insane not to do regular backups. James, I humbly beg to differ: I'm not insane, I'm fucking stupid.
Trying to grasp the situation fully, I look around this suddenly old house. Dollars' worth of spare change on the kitchen counter were still there. The still-jumbled contents of what I own are untouched. A couple of drawers of the empty dresser are pulled out, yawning empty. An empty fan box was taken from the garage area.
My laptop is gone. The dreadful weight of that fact is slamming into Me with every heartbeat. All My work. My files. Almost 5 years of accumulated research that make My daily tasks a routine. Gone. Gone.
My sister seems stunned, a reflection of My own thoughts. But My mom feels what I feel and appears heartbroken, grief-stricken at what she knows is a nearly-unbearable loss for Me.
I try to stay focused. Called the house owner, who lives behind My house. Her son, Jimmy, answers. He tells Me "There's only one suspect, but if you don't see it, you really can't say it." I agree and then call the police. The two officers arrived in 10 minutes and Jimmy appears to help in what he can. All three men agree on who the primary suspect is. He lives next door to Jimmy. Behind Me, about a 30-second walk away. And nobody told Me about him. Until now.
Seems the filthy punk is a drug addict who can't be bothered to move more than a mile away to steal. He's suspected of several thefts, has been caught a few times in the past year, but nobody presses charges. The local "ay bendito" pity mindset keeps this trash on the streets. And it's almost certain he stole My laptop.
The officers do what they can and leave. I can't stay and burden My family with My demeanor, so I leave to buy a different lock for the front gates. Yeah, the horse is gone, but moving is better than sitting.
When I return, My sister tells me the police had questioned the punk. I tell her I saw the police up the road, apparently questioning the punk's known cohort. Although I'm deeply hurt by the theft, I'm trying to deal with the consequences, trying to figure out how I'm going to recover. A business plan due Monday, now half gone. Several large projects, almost all contained in My files. All My recent stories. Novels in progress. My entire article archives, every piece I've written since 2002, including blog posts...more than 1,800 pieces...
It's all gone. If I let Myself think about it too much, I'm afraid it'll wash Me away like a tidal wave, so I stay in the moment as much as possible. But I can't help but feel the gaping void so close at hand.
My mom walks around, her face a mask of pain, as if her heart had been crushed. I let loose a brief outburst of pain and anger, then subside into silence, trying to think of a plan. I'm not searching for the laptop; it's gone. Some filthy subhuman creep stole it, will sell it to some conniving bastard and he will erase everything of Mine on it and go on with his life. Mine has just ground to a glassy, painful halt. All because I act and think like these things won't--don't--happen to Me.
My mom consulted something with My sister, then turned to Me and said "C'mon, let's go look outside for the box." Her theory is that the empty fan box was used to hide the laptop and that once the thief was out of sight of the road, he might have thrown the box away somewhere close. It's worth a try and I have nothing better to do. We grabbed flashlights and head outside. I noticed it was 11:07 P.M.
We searched the vacant lot next door and I followed a footpath from there to the punk's tiny one-room house. I made as much noise as I wanted, hoping he would come out. I turned back after a few minutes and told My mom that if he went that way, he could have reached his house easily and without being seen. And I didn't see a box, anyway.
My mom walked across the house's facade towards a trio of large trash cans lined against a barbed-wire fence. Beyond the cans was an overturned love seat. I'd seen all that when I went out to buy a lock, peering inside the cans briefly.
Now, using the flashlights, We searched inside and around the cans. I overturned the love seat, almost hitting My mom. Nothing underneath. I flipped it back to its upside-down position and stared at the undercovering. It gleamed whitely and had a semi-circular hole at the base, in front of Me. It didn't sag at all. On impulse I yanked the soft undercovering to the right, splitting it down the middle. Nothing. Then I rip the left half off and found My laptop.
I looked at it. I didn't feel joy. I didn't feel relief. "There it is," I said. My mom, several feet away searching the fence came running over. "What? What did you say?" My flashlight shone steadily on the laptop's label. "Is that it? That's it!!" My mom almost screamed. Her voice was cracking.
I kept looking at the laptop. "Mom, please get My cell phone."
She ran off, calling to My sister and the kids. In a minute she was back. The entire time she was gone I stared at the laptop. No feelings, only one thought: if there was a fingerprint on it that wasn't mine, I'd make sure someone went to jail.
My mom, sister and the boys rushed up to Me and while I called the police, they talked and pointed and celebrated. When I hung up, My mom was practically smothering My oldest nephew in a hug. I reached out to her and We embraced. My mom was sobbing and trembling so hard from relief and joy that I felt she would fall if We let go. I held her and held her and held her, content in the moment. As she quieted down, I gave her a kiss on the top of her head and said "Thanks, mom. You found it."
Later My sister told Me that as My mom and I walked out to search, she turned to her boys and said "Grandma has a hunch. I bet she finds the computer."
Indeed, she did. My mom saved the best of Me from the worst of Me, turning a night of despair into a pure triumph of will and imagination. Minutes before Mother's Day, My mom gave Me a gift I cannot hope to match, the same as when she brought Me into the world, the same as when she brought a little girl in the following year.
Thank you, Mom. Thank you for this and so much more. And yes, thanks to you, it was certainly a Happy Mother's Day for all of Us.
The Jenius Has Spoken.