Real Life Mystery

DSC01531Sunday Morning I loaded the dogs in the car for our daily trip to the park. With the crazy freeze-thaw cycles we’ve been seeing, the roads are a mess of pot holes. I hit one right after I turned onto Virginia Avenue and was relieved that I didn’t damage my tire.

We were sitting at the next intersection. No birds were singing, but the sun was shining and my pups were barking as they always do when they’re excited.

A horn started beeping repeatedly. I turned around, trying to figure out what they were beeping at. Nothing. The horn continued.  I looked to my left. The woman in the car next to me was waving vigorously at me.

Huh? I rolled down my window.

“You’re leaking,” She said.

“Okay, thanks. I’ll check it out.”

The light changed and I drove on. I always stop at the Big G convenience store for coffee, so I pulled in there to take a look. I figured it to be something minor.

I got out and walked to the rear of my car. Gas was gushing out in a stream, creating a puddle in the parking lot.

I went into the store and got my coffee (The tank had been almost empty before it started leaking, which was why I wasn’t worried about creating a bio-hazard). I know that probably sounds bizarre to many of you. I used to work in a drug and alcohol rehab, where crisis was served up daily on the menu. Back then I created a mantra: “If someone isn’t breathing, call 911. If you don’t need to call 911, it can wait five minutes.” I started the habit of pausing when something crazy happens to avoid making the situation worse through knee-jerk reactions (Something I witnessed many times).

The leak slowed to a dribble, then stopped. The engine still started, so I took a chance and drove the mile back home. My landlord, Rudy, was out with his dogs. I told him about the leak on my way into the house.

He knocked on my door a little later. “You’ve got a bullet hole in your gas tank. I heard shots last night, that was probably it.” He took me outside and knelt on the asphalt, pointing up under the car.

The hole on the side of my tank was punched in, slightly oval. No marks marred the pristine steel around the tank.

“It had to be a bullet,” He said. “Nothing else would blow off your undercoating like that. I’ve seen plenty of bullet holes, that looks to be .25 caliber, maybe .32, no larger than 9 mil.” He was puzzled as to how the bullet got between my tire and fender to hit the side of my tank.

Officer Ward was dubious. He didn’t see how a bullet got up under my car like that.

“I figured it someone was being stupid last night (shooting off a gun for the hell of it, as opposed to intentionally trying to hit something) and it ricocheted up off the road.”

“Where was it parked last night?”

“Same spot.”

He did not call out CSI. He did decide that if it was a stray bullet,  it likely came from the apartments behind my house, the only place in line with the hole.

Officer Ward was still not convinced, seeing as the car didn’t start leaking until I was on the road that morning. He said he would file a report stating that “something” punctured my tank, and if the mechanic found a bullet inside, to save it for him and he would amend his report.

I’ve thought some more. I figure someone took the shot and the bullet was losing velocity when it bounced off the pavement. It hit my tank with just enough force to pierce the wall, but then it stopped, lodging in the hole. When I hit the pot hole, the bullet popped out, starting the leak.

The big question is, did it fall into the tank, or back out onto Virginia Avenue? I’ll find out when I pick up my car.

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