The lazy afternoon haze was suddenly electrified by the Mart alarm ringing loudly. It was not just the alarm sound (shoppers were used to it tripping off sometimes), but also the loud shouts of the security guard as he chased after the pretty girl trying to escape with a large shopping bag.

I’d spotted her at the self-checkout counter. I remembered her because of her green scarf and the fact that I wondered whether her goods weren’t above the limit to use the self-checkout machine. She’d carefully avoided eye contact but I could see she was beautiful from the few times she’d looked up. Now there she was, fleeing so desperately so as not to be caught. And she was running my way.

I had a momentary lull in my default thought pattern. If it were a middle aged man or I’d have tackled him to the ground or placed a solid shoulder in his path. But this was a lady, wearing glasses and heels, looking pretty and delicate but very determined. I’d never wrestled a lady before. Should I trip her off her high heels? Would her glasses not break if she fell and cause her injury?

I found myself tackling the guard to the ground instead. I just wanted the lady to escape and be grateful to me. I wasn’t really thinking about this plan. She hadn’t really noticed me. Where was I going to meet her again and ask her number? And what was going to be my opening line? “Hey I was the guy who rescued you the other day you were shoplifting”? Yeah right. My chivalry was totally senseless in the first few seconds of hindsight. I would even be made to pay for her crime with no romantic rewards.

To my surprise she stopped running when she saw I’d tackled him. She came back slowly while I was engaged in my little thankless scuffle and began to look closely at my face. Her return made our fight unnecessary and we both got up slowly. The guard asked for her shopping bag while I looked on, sullen, adjusting my jumper.

She rescued me much easier than I thought. She gave her bag to the officer and apologized for running out because she thought she was missing her flight. I did not know what to make of this. The item in question was a small toning cream which she promptly paid for and was done in no time. I sheepishly hung around until she came back out and saw me.

I offered to drop her at the bus stop and we left the mall together. We talked and the conversation got personal very quickly. We felt so comfortable around each other it felt like we were siblings. I was surprised that she had a Trinidad accent, just the second or third such person I’d ever met. When I told her it was my favorite accent in the world, she said the same about my Nigerian accent. She said it was rich and creamy, like a mocha. I was flattered and took to her instantly. We exchanged numbers and I dropped her off.

It wasn’t until later that evening I realized I couldn’t find my phone. My iPhone 5S! I had given it to her to type in her digits and she’d offered to fill in her name too since it was difficult to spell. I think I got so carried away I didn’t realize I was being robbed. My security lock on the phone had been bypassed in the process but the invasion of privacy was not my main concern. My disappointment was that I’d been scammed by a pretty thief, robbed not only of the Apple of my i’s but of my heart as well. Was I that gullible and easy?

Tracking my stolen phone wasn’t difficult. My first surprise was that the location of the phone on my tracking website remained relatively constant. It was either she wasn’t using the phone or she never went out. On the third day I couldn’t get an update on the phone’s location. I assumed the phone battery had died or worse, the phone had been jailbroken and sold.

In my panic I rushed to the address on the map. What I would do to her I wasn’t sure yet. Somehow this adorable thief was too pretty and innocent looking to be apprehended for stealing. How much did an iPhone cost anyway? I could wait a few months and get the iPhone 6 instead.

I pushed open the flat door after a few rings of the bell. I wasn’t prepared to wait all day for someone who might not even live there. The next surprise was how disorganized the sitting room was. Teddy bears, toy cars, clothes, bags, watches, shoes and even some hotel branded towels and curtains. I even saw an inflatable bed in the corner. Were all these items stolen? What was this? Where was Tricia the pretty thief?

She walked out of the kitchen wearing nothing but a green scarf, the green scarf, around her neck and white ear plug headphones. She didn’t look shocked to see me even. The whole scene was the opposite of what I’d normally do to a thief. I was supposed to be upset and raging and threatening, but here I was, embarrassed that I couldn’t keep my eyes off the delectable mounds of the well rounded pretty stranger thief.

She smiled at me and walked to a sofa next to the inflatable bed and sat down, crossing her legs and adjusting the scarf just enough to play over her nipples. It was obvious she did it more for my benefit and that she was pleased to see me. Perhaps if I didn’t look so shocked she’d have given me a hug in all her glorious nakedness. Alas, I’d lost that opportunity.

I began to stammer. Somehow I didn’t know how to bring up the subject of why I came. Why was it so hard? When I finally mumbled about a missing iPhone, she looked blank, like she’d never seen any such thing. She laughed and asked why I didn’t dial my number and ask for my phone. Then I realized why I couldn’t be angry at her. Secretly I wanted to meet her again, to know where she lived, to see her again and hear her lovely, milky voice.

I told her some story which none of us believed and she suggested we see a movie right there. After she cleared a space next to her naked bum on the seat for me, I began to feel overdressed. I acquiesced, looking for a socket to charge my phone before taking off my sweater and joining her rather awkwardly on the sofa.

We didn’t really pay attention to the movie. We continued our heart to heart talk as if we’d never taken a break. Somewhere along the line I asked her what she was doing with so many disjointed items in her house. Asking why she stole my precious phone seemed so outrageous at the time it was absurd in my mind. She said she didn’t really have a reason. She saw something, she liked it, she took it. She lived alone so everything I saw was hers. She had no friends and her family lived in the countryside. She didn’t have a steady job either. From time to time she’d visit the pawn shop after a house cleaning to exchange the items for money. She said she took the items from people surreptitiously because “people got mad when they saw me (her) collecting them.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or feel sorry. I was dealing with a compulsive thief. Kleptomania was a sort of obsessive compulsive disorder. She just felt the world wasn’t arranged properly as long as the shiny items weren’t in her immediate possession. She didn’t even have taste. Gas lighters, match boxes, and fancy thumb drives lay jumbled with gold, jewel necklaces and wedding rings. It was obvious she placed no value on her acquired goods and that she never planned to use them. That was when it occurred to me why my internal justice system broke down around her. She felt no remorse. She wasn’t even sad that she couldn’t keep a job or close friends or that she lived alone. Apparently her dating life was in limbo too and she wasn’t really trying hard to correct that. She was comfortable between her jobless benefits and her pawn shop trips.

One of those times she threw her back and laughed loud I couldn’t help myself. I moved in to kiss her to shut her up. She responded tentatively at first and then passionately and hungrily. When I pulled back, there were questions in her eyes. I had the answers in mine. I would be her protector. I’d cover for her and explain to her future friends and victims. I’d return the items I could identify owners for. I would help her find a job without many opportunities to pick up valuable items carelessly thrown around.

I’d be her shadow of light and we would be Bonnie and Clyde, the good ones. I would steal her heart somehow for myself, like she’d stolen mine at the mall.

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed;
those who help others are helped.
(Prov. 11 vs 25, The Message)