Searching for the Mugger Man

March 14, 2013 1:00 pm

I’m looking for someone who has haunted me for a long time. This is a tale that reaches far back into my history; a presence that I have noticed ever since I took the questionable decision to partake in a race in my socks at a year 6 disco. Thinking that my trainers, which had proven so useful on the dancefloor, would slow me down, I discarded them and sprinted freely into the darkness in my socks. When I returned to where the race had commenced,  one lonely trainer remained. I might have won the race, but I had lost a trainer. In truth, I had lost both the race and the trainer. This mysterious man had entered my life and taken my precious shoe, and in doing so, had placed a blossoming adolescent reputation on the line.

Somehow, I made it through the night relatively unscathed, as previous balance and symmetry transformed into something more abstract. But despite the facade of joy I had painted across my face, the truth was I now knew that someone lurked in the dark, in the bushes: ready to strike when my back was turned to take what was mine.

For the next few years he never strayed too far from me. Sometimes he would take a  jumper I might have momentarily put aside at a party, on another occasion it would be a shirt. One time he even had the sheer ignorance to come into my school and take my P.E bag that I had mistakenly left behind in the canteen at lunch. It made for an ungraceful games lesson. Mine was a fearful existence. Where could I be safe? I faced every day with the lingering feeling that whenever my guard slipped, if I showed the merest hint of complacency he would seize upon it and make me pay. He truly was a magnificently efficient bastard. If I possessed a hat that he hadn’t stolen, I would have even been tempted to tip it to him, such was his professionalism.CableTheft

I entered the wide world of University. Surely now I might be left alone. No longer a child in the eyes of the law, and a man who deserves some respect. Besides I saw safety in the swelling ranks of a friendly student population, who would surely notice and act as a deterrent if I did happen to be spotted drunk and vulnerable. As term began I realised that  I should put those hopeful thoughts to bed. Wearing a raincoat to the student union because of torrential rain I was faced with an endless queue to the cloakroom and so I placed my beloved mac behind a sofa. It would have been too hot to wear it, after all.  I bopped the night away, without the slightest thought that he could disturb my joyous disposition. Of course I returned to grab my coat and it had gone. He had struck, and my secure world was once again exposed as a deluded sham.

I travelled abroad. How could he know where I was headed? Actually, how could he even fit all the possessions of mine he had collected over the years into the strict baggage allowances that easy-jet so adamantly stipulate? No I was surely safe from his clutches overseas. Myself and some friends went to a music festival. Suddenly my friend’s hat disappeared from his head as he revelled in the crowd. It couldn’t be, I winced, as a sinking mixture of anger and guilt began to consume me. He would even target my friends? We searched for it. Shoulders were eagerly mounted in the hopeful wish that we might see the hat in the crowd and finally confront the swine who had now surmised so much courage he would even take the hat off a head. But phwoosh, just like that, he had gone. And my friend’s naked cold head would be a haunting reminder of the damage he had done.

bike-theft-415His confidence had evidently grown. Now it seemed that anybody I was close to was at risk. Perhaps, I thought, refraining from going out would temper his activity, throw him off my scent. But harrowing tales came back to me.  My friend had her purse pinched from her coat. She told me it had contained no money. I was trying to get inside his psyche, but his motives eluded me. What sinister plans did he have for her European Health Insurance Card? And her Nectar Card? Would he be found with a smug look of satisfaction on his face at the tills of Sainsbury? She had spent a while saving up those points. A cruel blow. A week later, she put her coat down for a few moments, only for him to swoop in and saunter out in an impressive act of opportunism.  It now appeared size or form did not even enter his robbing equation; when opportunity arose it was instantly seized. With motives beyond rational human understanding, I was left in a state of paranoid bewilderment.

Like most, I have a breaking point. And with the inescapable feeling that I might have brought this plague upon my friends, I am driven to search. Maybe you have seen him. He’s the one leaving the club early wearing two coats that probably don’t quite fit. Or three jumpers. Or rapturously throwing cash in the air as he empties the money from the multiple wallets he has managed to lay his hands on. He’s a monster in his comfort zone who has forced me out of mine. But for too long have I been haunted and terrorised. The hunted must become the hunter.

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