Monday, January 28, 2013

The Broken Window

Has anyone besides me ever gotten into trouble for something you didn’t do? Probably. But for me, it seemed to be a habit because it happened a lot - still does from time to time. Just recently, I was blamed for tearing a hose off the fuel pump at my job - until they actually looked at the surveillance camera footage and saw it wasn’t me. (Would have been nice if they had checked that first). When I was a kid it wasn’t always that easy to prove my innocence but usually, I did find a way to get out of things without suffering any ill consequences, as in the following story.

I was nine or ten years old at the time. An apartment building was being built across the alley from my house. A neighbor friend of mine and I loved to ride our bikes in the piles of dirt. One day, when we’d stopped for a rest, I picked up a dirt clod and threw it through one of the open windows. No glass had been installed yet and we didn’t see any harm in tossing a few more dirt clods through the window hole. A little more dirt on the dirt floor inside couldn’t hurt anything.

We soon grew tired of throwing dirt and went back to riding our bikes. That might have been the end of it except some other kids had seen us and decided throwing dirt clods looked like fun. For the next few days the other kids took it upon themselves to move as much dirt from outside the apartments to the inside, one dirt clod at a time. Then one day, when we all got home from school, the windows had been installed. Of course that fact didn’t at all deter the neighboring kids from their fun and it wasn’t long before one of the windowpanes was broken.

Before the shattered glass had settled to the ground all of the other kids were long gone. My friend and I had done nothing wrong and so we stayed. The next day after school, we again went to ride our bikes on the mounds of dirt. And then suddenly, there were four or five men who appeared out of nowhere - and they were mad! One of them, evidently the boss, was yelling and cussing at us, asking us why we’d broken out the window. It did no good to tell him we weren’t the ones responsible, he didn’t care what we had to say. He’d talked to someone across the street and they told him we rode our bikes there everyday. We were going to have to pay for the window, he said. Then he added, that he wouldn’t call the police if we’d tell him where we lived.

I may have been only a kid but I was no fool. Remember I said getting in trouble for things I hadn’t done was sort of a habit of mine? Well, that habit had taught me at least one thing and I knew better than to tell the guy where I lived. He wanted to talk to my parents, and that wasn’t going to happen - not if I could help it! But neither did I want to lie to the man. So, my friend and I just took off riding as fast as we could - away from the construction site and in the opposite direction from our houses.

Returning home an hour or so later, we half expected to be greeted by a cop car - but there were none. Neither of our parents mentioned it so apparently, the guy hadn’t figured out where we lived. In a few weeks the apartments were finished and we never saw the man again. For once, I had won! I wasn’t sure exactly what I had won since I hadn’t been guilty in the first place, but it was nice to feel as if I’d gotten away with something.

The whole reason I’m telling this story is that I was reminded of it the other day while driving past those apartments. I was slightly amused to see that a window was broken. The same window. Great, I thought, as my smile faded and I quickly drove away. I wonder if I’m going to be blamed for this?

Bruce A. Borders, author and songwriter, has over 500 songs and more than a dozen books. Over My Dead Body, The Journey, and Miscarriage Of Justice, his latest books, are available on Apple I-Pad®, Amazon Kindle®, Barnes & Noble Nook® and Sony Reader®, Kobo, Diesel Books, and Smashwords. Now also available in print at many online retailers or at The popular Wynn Garrett Series Books are now available on Barnes And Noble® at See Bruce’s Smashwords Profile at

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