Barry slowly steered his car into the garage. Loaded at the back of his car was his loot for the day. He parked the car and slowly began to go through them.
A pristine grandfather clock, a flat screen TV, an iPhone and a diamond studded necklace lay at his disposal. Not bad for a day’s work. He took his haul up to the house and kept them safely in his own private vault. He then slid into bed between his wife and his seven year old son.
Barry hadn’t always been a thief though. He had been a cocktail bartender who aspired to be a standup comedian. Things were going fine, until he showed up at his job pitch black drunk. In his hazy state, he got into a brawl with one of the customers and promptly lost his job. News about the fight spread across the city like wildfire and he found it difficult to get another job as a bartender.
Barry thought that this could be a sign telling him to pursue his dream of being a comedian. He went out and put his heart into it. He went to clubs and bars and told his jokes. Not a single person laughed in the audience. He would say his lines and then awkwardly wait for a reaction from his crowd. They would just stare back at him with weary eyes and frowns on their faces instead of smiles. A snail had a better chance of winning a race.
Meanwhile the bills kept piling up. His son’s school fees started to pile up, he was in debt and there was barely any food in the house. He had thought that he could repay all the bills and loans when his comedian career kicked off, but now it looked impossible. His wife’s waitressing brought in some money, but that was about it. He was miserable, hungry and desperate.
Now at the end of the rope, he called up an old friend of his, Wally. Wally and Barry had been close friends, till Wally started drifting off and hanging out in the ‘other’ side of their neighbourhood. He joined a gang and got into fights . Barry had no other options.
Wally told Barry that with his help they could break into the bar he used to work at and pilfer all the booze. Wally would then sell it off at a fraction of the market price to specific sellers. They would split the profits among the crew equally. The chance of striking back at the people who had wronged him, rang out to Barry. He was in.
This unleashed a chain of robberies and burglaries. Barry found out that he had a knack for this sort of thing. He kept telling himself he would stop soon, that what he was doing was utterly immoral but like all bad habits, it clung onto him. Over the next two years, he kept stealing.
Back in present day, Barry slowly woke up from his sleep. His wife sat across him, sullen faced.
“What’s the matter, honey?”
“It’s the neighbours, they complained about Bart. Apparently he took their kid’s remote controlled car and didn’t give it back. I took it from him and I’ve given it back now. I’d like you to have a word with your son, Barry.”
Barry called his son towards him.
“So Bart, how’d you get your hands on the car?”
“I stole it.”
These words surprised Barry, the thought that he would admit to the stealing so quickly. Still he plowed on.
“Why would you steal it? Haven’t we given you enough? You do know that stealing is wrong right?”
“ No, dad. You do it all the time. I’m not stupid you know.”
These words shocked Barry. The fact that his stealing was so commonplace surprised him. More than that, his son’s morals bewildered him. What sort of an example was he setting? Was this karma?
Barry slowly made his way to the living room, away from Bart. His stomach clenched, as disgust filled him. What kind of person had he become? It was not like he was dirt poor anymore, stealing was not a necessity. What had happened to him? What happened to the guy who used to heave a sigh of relief thinking that he had not turned out to be like Wally? His morals had been destroyed and now his son was suffering for it. For a moment he imagined his son all grown up, turning out to be like him — a thief. He felt nauseous just thinking about it.
Barry lay on the sofa all day just thinking about this. The next day, he went up to his wife told her about his conversation with Bart the other day and then said, “I’m going to turn myself in.”
“Yes. I’ve failed him as a father. I haven’t managed to instill righteousness in him and I’ve set a horrible example. Plus I have a feeling I’ll be able to sleep better as well.”
“What about our son? Who’s going to raise him?”
“I’ve stashed enough for the both of you to get by for a while. Plus my brother said that he would look after you guys. I want my son to know that stealing is wrong, that it should be punished. Would you like to see him follow in his thief father’s footsteps? I, for one do not. This is important to me. I want to set a good example for him. This is the right thing to do.”
With that, Barry opened the door and headed off.