Crouch was a record thief. Every month he would go trips around the country just to steal vinyl, tapes, CD's, whatever he could greedily purloin. It didn't matter what it was. Could be The Eagles, Jim Croce, Edith Piaf, even Abomination. If Crouch liked it he took it. And he hadn't been caught yet.


Crouch's favourite destination was Hamilton. He had found a few decent second hand record stores there and if lucky the pickings were good. On an average day he could expect to come home with thirty vinyl records, plus whatever tapes and CD's he could nab. Funny thing was Crouch did not own a record player. So al the vinyl he stole was worthless. Instead he just looked at it as it gathered in a heap in his bedroom. He continued anyway. He always liked to go on a Friday. He didn't work. Collecting unemployment he could do as he pleased. One Thursday evening he decided to make a trip. See what goods he could pinch.


Getting to Hamilton meant an early start, so Crouch had to be at the train station at 6.20 AM. This was the worst part of the day. Crouch usually went to bed around three AM so he would only get a couple of hours sleep. He set his alarm for five thirty so he could shower and have time to walk to the station. As he got into bed Crouch wondered why he did this to himself. He couldn't sleep. Every ten minutes he woke to check the clock in case he overslept. But once he fell dead asleep it was time to get up and by now was too comfortable in his warm bed. In those crucial few minutes Crouch had to make a choice. He could either stay in bed and sleep all morning. or get up and steal music. Inevitably the latter won through, the prospect of a haul too much to resist. So he got up, showered, and walked to the station located nearby. Crouch liked walking the streets that early. There was no life. You could kill someone, dump them in a ditch and who would know? He felt at ease.



That all disappeared once he got on the train.




The train ride was an agonizing two hours long. The stench of the train made him nauseous. So as Crouch sat there, in his shorts and trainers amongst the well suited office workers, he had to overcome the urge to vomit. He had drunk some grapefruit juice before he left that had possibly been old. He felt poisoned. He warded it off somehow and got his mind back on the job: what goodies are in store for me today? This made him feel better. The only problem now was the wait.


As the record stores didn't open until 10 AM Crouch had an hour and a half to kill. As usual he went to Geordie Pie and ate a slew of meat pies. That only took twenty minutes. So Crouch accepted the inevitable and waited for his favoured record store to open. Show Boat Records had what he felt was the best selection in town. Crouch stood outside for a minute and looked at the closed signs. There was still forty five minutes until they opened. Crouch walked around the corner and sat on a park bench. It was bitterly cold. He regretted wearing shorts. Periodically he would get up to see if by chance they had opened early. No such luck. But at ten on the dot Crouch rushed to get in. But still the doors were locked. Were they closed for the day? Crouch shuddered. Annoyed he sat down on the sidewalk until the doors opened. Then a girl unlocked the doors from the inside. As he walked in he felt a sense of shame. He wondered if she had seen him lurking about for the last hour. Nevertheless he got dwon to the task at hand.


Crouch gathered all the records he wanted to steal and put them in one place. Then he bought one two dollar record, Men At Works 'Cargo', went back to the spot where the others were, hid them behind his purchase and walked out. Crouch got to a safe distance and surveyed his catch. Among them were ten Frank Zappa albums. Crouch put the twenty three albums in his bag and contemplated what to do for the next seven hours. It was 10:07. The train left at 5:17 PM.


Apart from Show Boat there was not much quality. Crouch inspected other stores, stole this and that, and bought a Professionals poster. His bag got heavier. He walked past the same shops over and over. He felt more shame. Like he was being watched. Crouch watched a movie to burn time, the new Kevin Costner flick 'Water World'. Then he played some video games. But it was still only 2 PM, still three hours to pass. He began to tire of the bags weight. The poster was large and impossible to carry. The vinyl was dragging him down. His feet hurt. He sat down in a park and ate. As he threw his garbage away he found a copy of Honcho in the trash can. He kept it.



Crouch went to the library to rest. He read an issue of Guitar World that asked the question, 'Is Shred Dead?' on its cover. Bullshit he thought. There were some fine CD's on offer there, so he thought he would help himself. He took a bunch and hid out of view. The cd's were covered with a tough plastic protective coating to avoid theft. Crouch struggled to tear it off. When he did he ripped the entire coating off the cd's. They were now unlistenable. He gave up. Crouch had to take a shit. As he tried to a fire alarm went off and the library was evacuated. Forced out on the street again, the weight of the vinyl and the awkward poster broke Crouch. He found a bridge and threw the bag of albums and the poster into a river. He didn't care.


Crouch just wanted to get out. He waited for the train. Tired and frustrated he barely endured the ride home. Arriving at the train station back home he could hardly walk. All at once he felt the urge to vomit and defecate. Walking past his old high school he decided to use the toilet there. As an old boy he knew exactly where to go. He rushed in and let it go. He swore to never drink grapefruit juice ever again. As he walked out an old caretaker called Moses he once mocked saw him. "Hey you little bastard, come here!" he screamed at Couch. Crouch gave him the finger and walked off laughing. As soon as he reached home he watched The Bill. It was the episode where Yorkie infiltrated a group of soccer hooligans. Then he fell asleep.


Two weeks later Crouch sold his mammoth record collection to a group of Asians for twenty dollars. He had no need for Gladys Knight and The Pips Greatest Hits. "Do you have 'Atlantic Crossing' by Rod Stewart?" one of them asked. Crouch said yes. He wasn't lying. Inside the sacks were two cassette copies. They left. Crouch was twenty dollars richer. He hadn't bough any of that stuff anyway. More importantly he had money for dinner. Twenty potato fritters were worth more than Jackson Browne's 'World In Motion'.