CHUCK WILLIAMS: Throwing myself in harm's way

April 1, 2013 

Next time I'll call 911.

Let's start at the beginning.

A few weeks ago, one of my friends and neighbors had his bicycle stolen off his front porch. It was a tricked-up Walmart job -- a beach cruiser with a wire basket, even a bottle opener.

Having had my bike stolen last fall, I am sympathetic to his plight.

Fast forward to last Thursday night.

I was driving home on Front Avenue, near Dillingham Street, when I spotted a man on the identical bike to the one that my friend lost. The man turned and headed toward the bridge.

I called my buddy, told him I thought I found his bike. He was just a couple of blocks away, and I told him to meet me on the Alabama side of the Dillingham Street bridge.

I sped across the bridge, stopping 50 or so yards ahead of the man on the bike. He rolled up to me, and I detained him.

I told him my buddy had a bike -- which was very similar to his -- stolen a few weeks ago. The man assured me he bought his at Walmart, paying $141.29 for it.

He was kind enough to hang around until my friend got there.

That's when things went downhill -- fast.

My buddy rolled up and accused the guy of having his stolen bike. Next thing I know, the two guys were screaming and cussing at each other. The man with the bike took exception to being called a thief -- he kept saying he got it at Walmart, paying $141.29.

About the fifth time he screamed it, I started to believe him because my friend bought his at Walmart and paid about the same thing.

We had called the cops and were playing a waiting game.

As we waited, the man with the bike got more and more agitated. At one point, he looked at me, uttered an obscenity and said, "I am just going to shoot your a--."

Just after he said it, he reached for the waistband of his pants.

Great.

My first thought was, "I was born in Alabama, at least I am going to die in Alabama."

Then I thought I might qualify for a Darwin Award, given annually to those who die in an unconventional act of stupidity. I was about to get killed over a Walmart bike that wasn't even mine.

Then, I thought about my colleague Tim Chitwood and how he would finally get even with me when he writes about how I was shot to death on the Dillingham Street Bridge trying to steal this guy's bike.

Fortunately, the guy pulled out a cellphone and not a gun.

The man rolled away on his bike, and we followed him to a nearby strip center where several folks told us he had the bike for three months or more. And the wrongly accused bike thief kept screaming he paid $141.29 for it at Walmart.

My buddy looked up the bike on Walmart's website. It was going for about $129, according to the smartphone.

My only response: "That would be about $141.29 -- with tax."

I won't be doing that again.

Chuck Williams, senior editor for content, chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.com.

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