Our car was stolen a few months ago and we'd accepted that we'd never see it again. Came up with all kinds of exciting scenarios for how it had happened: Russian car theft rings, deranged farmers with wild dogs who come down to the villages and lift cars every now and then, chop shops - we thought we'd imagined every possibility.
But the reality was much less glamorous. Some country sad sack needed a ride home to the next village one night, and "d'uh, I take this one!" nicked our lowly Ford Escort from in front of the garage where it had recently been repaired. Left it sitting there, parked on the sparsely-traveled street, for almost two months. A local, noticing the blight on the landscape, eventually called the police.
They summoned us to the village where the garage is located back in October. The day a paper had come from the auto insurance company, asking Eric to verify his identity before they could proceed with any claims. We'd met with four policemen in front of a shabby, ancient barn, all of them tall and in knee-high polished black boots (and the rest of the gendarme outfit but it was the gleaming boots that captured my imagination). The tallest one with the little mustache r-o-l-l-e-d back the barn door and shined his flashlight in.
"Is this your automobile?" he asked.
Eric, overcome with emotion, hid his face in my shoulder, sobbing "Oh my God." (He didn't really, but as they were acting so CSI, it would have made sense.)
As he stepped forward to throw his arms around the car, one of the officers shouted, "Ne touchez pas la voiture!" They instructed us to circle the car, as they held up stuff they'd found inside. "Is this your...CD?" (The Eels! We thought it had been lost forever). "Two ancient pines cones?" Check. "Is this your...bag of garbage?" (Three empty water bottles and a crumpled boulangerie bag, present and accounted for!)
After all this verifying, they took Eric into the station where he signed a report. Then we went away on tour for two months.
This past Friday, we went back to the garage. Sitting out front, looking the cleanest it has in four years, doors unlocked (ahem), good as or better than it was before - the Ford Escort.
Happy New Year!