The police officer stepped out of her car, leaving the lights flashing and approached the older man. “Sir, is this your vehicle?”
The man’s face was bathed in the red and blue flashes. “No, but I was just…” He gestured toward the silver sedan.
The officer put up one hand, the other moving toward her hip. “Please step away from the vehicle. We’ve gotten reports of someone rummaging through cars in the area.”
“I wasn’t rummaging.”
“What are you looking for? Money?”
“No, no, not at all.” He took a step toward the rear door. “Let me show you.”
“Don’t touch the car. Do you live around here?”
“A few blocks away but I’ve already hit up all the cars on my street.”
She stared at him. “So you admit you’ve been breaking into cars.”
“No, of course not. I never break into cars. I only go into the ones that are unlocked.”
The officer rubbed her forehead. It had already been a long night and her shift was technically over. She just wanted to go home, pour a glass of wine and watch Princess Bride for the hundredth time. “You can’t just go into people’s cars.”
“I really don’t think they’ll mind.”
“Sir! That is not the point! Do you understand that I could arrest you?”
The man shrugged. “But I don’t take anything.”
She took a deep breath. Losing her temper wouldn’t help anything. “Then what are you doing?”
“I’m leaving bags of zucchini.”
“Bags of zucchini. You know how it is at this time of year. My garden has so much zucchini and I don’t want to waste it.” The man put up one finger at a time as he listed off items, “I’ve made zucchini bread, chocolate zucchini bread, roasted zucchini, fried zucchini, zucchini gratin and zoodles. Have you ever heard of zoodles. I just learned about them. You can buy this machine…”
Her head was pounding. She pictured Princess Buttercup bossing Wesley around in the Princess Bride. No matter what she told him to do he always answered the same way, “As you wish!”
But what she wished right now was that she had chosen a different career. She looked in the car window and sure enough, there was a plastic bag overflowing with zucchini.
“Sir. You can’t just leave stuff in people’s cars.”
He crossed his arms in front of him. “Why not?”
She spluttered and pointed a finger at him. “Because! Because I could take you in for a ROUS violation, that’s why.”
“ROUS, Redistribution Of Unwanted Squash.”
They both froze, staring at each other and then at the same time they cracked up. A couple walking by stared at them as the two snorted with laughter.
After a minute the man asked, “Wait, isn’t ROUS from Princess Bride? Rodents Of Unusual Size?” He wiped his streaming eyes.
“Maybe.” The officer doubled over trying to catch her breath.
They finally stopped laughing.
“But really,” she said, “you can’t keep doing this. You’re going to get in trouble.”
“Alright, I’ll stop.”
“Promise?” She narrowed her eyes at him.
“Promise.” He put a hand over his heart.
“Okay then.” She started toward her car.
He called after her “Would it be okay if some chocolate zucchini bread happened to show up at your precinct?”
She grinned. “As you wish.”