Have You Seen My Milk Cow?

Report from the White Center King County Public Library


My car was stolen. My car was stolen again. This time it was stolen sometime between seven o’clock at night and noon the following day from my home, from my driveway, in Des Moines, Washington. I work at home two days a week, and I was in the middle of working. I went to check the mailbox for one of my obsessive mailbox checks. I waste a ton of time each day clicking the refresh button on my email program. My Mac makes a hollow “tock” sound, the hollow sound an echo of just how hollow my constant need for contact is — the mailbox is the same way. I will open the door and peer inside if it is empty. Just after we moved into the house some vandal flattened the original mailbox and I’ve replaced it with a plastic contraption I couldn’t figure out how to put together properly. The directions on the box where no help. When I check the mail, the entire plastic thing wobbles, and I’m afraid it the box itself will pop off its pole. Usually when I check, the box is empty. The thing is, I can hear the mailman drive past the house. I can hear his truck idling. I don’t need to keep checking.

I didn’t hear anything when my car was stolen. Rather, I just noticed it was not there in the driveway. Where it had been there was the tiny splatter of oil from the leaking engine. And it was nowhere. I thought it could be on the street. It wasn’t on the street. I had been out-of-doors several times by the time I noticed the car was nowhere. Perhaps it hadn’t been gone in the morning? I don’t know.

My car was stolen the first time from a lot when I worked in Seattle. I parked in a seedy parking lot near Lake Union. Homeless men killed time in the blackberry bushes on the shore. Traveling people slept in the back of their vans. One time a jeep stopped driven by a man wearing reflective aviator glasses. He dropped off a woman homeless person who spent her days at the intersection of Mercer and Fairview with a cardboard sign. She stumbled out of his jeep and then let out the contents of her stomach like spilling a bucket of creamed corn. After she recovered the man shrugged, climbed back in his jeep and drove away. I was surprised, but not too surprised when my car was stolen from this lot. I didn’t have to pay for parking in this lot. To have my car stolen was a small price, I guess. It turned up several days later near Genesee in the CD in a region of newly constructed condos, a place that had once been famous as Seattle’s version of an inner city. In the late 1960s, when there were riots someone threw a tire iron through my father’s back windshield. Now you are more likely to get flipped off by an SUV driver. My recovered car was empty of gas. The contents had been pilfered. But, it was only slightly damaged, but mostly unharmed.

The second theft, from my driveway, was curious because I have a hard time imagining someone walking up to my house and then somehow opening the car and then getting it out of the driveway. I have a hard time seeing this because my neighborhood is silent in general and there is no one around, and I guess it is this silence and the fact that no one is around that makes this sort of activity possible.


My insurance company provided with me with a car until the my car if recovered. I had a reading in at the White Center King County Public Library. As I drove there I kept looking for my car, a 1990 blue Toyota Camry. It has PBE in the license plate — but in the dusk the license plates where hard to see. But, I could see Camrys everywhere. I kept thinking on the way there — but I was using that car — and there was a sense of there being a profusion of Camrys. In the parking lot in the White Center library their were four Camrys. But not my car. On the way home, it was maddening–like the final scenes of the Bicycle Thief>/i> where the father is surrounded by bicycles that could be his bicycle. I wanted to pull a car over. This is my car. It looks like my car. This is the one I drive. I need it. In my quiet and silent neighborhood, I am as dependent on my car as I am on my feet. More I think.

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