Fiction: Poor Rufus

I was approaching the house on another humid Atlanta afternoon when I noticed something out of the ordinary sticking out of my air conditioning unit also known as the condenser. This summer it feels like we have been living in the rain-forest so the hum coming from my condenser is music to the ears. Was it another raccoon doing whatever it took to lick the water flowing out of the overflow pipe? No, water isn’t as scarce as it has been in past summers when we experienced extreme droughts. This summer, water has been plentiful, I explained to myself.

I was in my station wagon doing my best to assess the situation. I quickly turned the ignition to silence the engine and exited the car. My heart was pounding. I tip-toed towards the condenser on the left side of my home. I heard some rustling wondering what type of activity could possibly be occurring around my air conditioning outside unit?
I turned the corner and saw two large boots moving about. As I approached, I saw a rotund white-as-notebook-paper male on the ground tugging at something inside the unit.

“Excuse me, may I help you?” I asked.

“I’m from the electric company and I’m here to gauge the output of your unit,” the man nervously replied.

“I’ve been in the house for 30 years; the power company doesn’t do this. What gives?” I said.

“Uh, uh, uh,” the man stammered and began sweating even more profusely.

“It looks to me like you’re up to some sort of chicanery,” I yelled.

“Chick-a-what?” the main queried.

“Chicanery! You don’t seem to be too educated. Chicanery here means that you’re up to no good!” I challenged.

“Uh, uh, okay, I’m busted,” he cried. “I wanted to get all of the copper out of the unit so I can re-sell it and make a few bucks!”

The air conditioning unit kicked on.

“Well, it looks like you didn’t get far since the unit kicked on. Let’s just call it an afternoon and I’ll forget that I ever saw you. What’s your name?” I offered.

“Name is Carl, please to meet you,” ‘Carl’ said while still on the ground.

“Well, Carl, you’re free to go,” I said.

“I can’t do anything right! She’s gonna kill me!” the man sobbed.
“Who’s going to kill you?” I asked.

“My mother. She said that this is the only way we can get some money into the house. We’ve been struggling since I my job ended at Toilet Papers R Us,” he said.

“I never heard of the place,” I replied. “What are you talking about? I’m not believing a word of your story, Rufus!”

“Rufus? How did you know my name?” he yelled.

“Because your Walmart name tag says, ‘Rufus!’” I yelled louder.

The situation became more tenuous as the man got up, dusted himself off and attempted to run. I chased him down after 10 yards and threatened to call the authorities. I always knew that copper thieves are a major problem, but I never expected it to hit my neighborhood nor did I think that I would catch a thief in the act. The icing on this bad cake is that the thief is incompetent at his self-appointed “job.”

“Don’t call the cops!” Rufus pleaded.

“Now look, just give up the copper thievery. You got a great job. I’m going to give you a second chance,” I said.

After making that decisive move, Rufus began walking after the ill-fated attempt, but tripped over a fallen branch and was attacked by a raccoon.


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