My biggest regret is that it wasn’t me who finally caught him.
You know who I’m talking about. Ol’ Quick-Squirt McGee. The Fastest Water Gun in the West. The elusive Drive-Thru Bandit, who spent most of last month serial-squirting fast-food attendants up and down Volusia County — and, by God, he did it with a smile.
I first got wind of him last week, but already Ol’ Squirt — his folks called him Tyler Christopher, 20 — had a reputation.
He was in Cops Corner for spraying a Taco Bell drive-thru lady with a mysterious blue liquid. The joint’s head honcho said he’d also been in Daytona a couple days prior, where he hit another Taco attendant with a double-barrel shot of Silly String straight to the gut.
Some nights, when I can’t sleep, I imagine him out there, wind through his hair, riding his steed up to fast-food call boxes. He clomps right past the “WANTED” signs posted outside, riddled with Hi-C stains, and then he lets loose when he gets to the window, screaming things like, “Fast food? More like SPLASH food!” as he fires.
When he gallops into the night with his posse, he leaves nothing but the sound of his laughter in the wind.
Really no two ways about it: Ol’ Squirt was a pro. But the law has a habit of catching up to even the wildest of wild men.
Last week, our anti-hero went out, as he does, for a leisurely drive-by squirting — but this time at Steak N Shake, the one right there on Granada.
I imagine he couldn’t resist its pun potential.
Spray N Shake. Steak N Soak.
I bet he even ordered a double-drenched burger with a side crock of chili ... string.
Oh, I can go on forever. And I imagine so did he, up until the second Ormond’s finest stopped him at a dusty intersection late Sept. 30. Someone had called in the plate number glued to his pony’s haunches. And the law rolled up. And that was that.
But if I know Ol’ Squirt, no way he went down easy.
The scene was filled with tumbleweeds, masses of ’em blowing past the spurs of Ol’ Quick Squirt and the lawman — that I can assure you. They stared at each other for hours, each dancing their fingers over their holsters — except each of Squirt’s were filled with pink-lidded cans of spray foam, of course. Off his chest, water balloons dangled like grenades. A Super Soaker 4700 peeked over his shoulder.
He even had a flower on his lapel. But try to give that sucker a whiff and, oh boy, were you in for a soggy surprise.
I don’t pretend to know how the deputies nabbed him. Some say Ol’ Squirt wanted to get caught. Others say he got sloppy, or tired.
Me? I like to think his job was done. He’d taken this city by storm. He achieved infamy, like Jesse James or Josey Wales.
He was the Bane of the Beach. The Squirt Gun Scoundrel. They’ll write books about him — well, maybe not books — but blurbs. They’ll write loads of blurbs.
It’s a story fathers will pass on to sons for generations. It will be the flip side to every bad-day tale ever told.
You might come home exhausted, hating work. And then someone will say, “Silver lining: At least you weren’t shot point blank in a face with a squirt gun full of soda while working the window at a minimum-wage-paying drive-thru job.”
And Ol’ Squirt, wherever he is, will shed a single tear. It’s like the old addage about angels getting wings every times a bell rings — except, Ol’ Squirt gets a shot of mystery liquid added to his ammo tank. Then he’ll grin and wait for the next time we get whiny and are in need some perspective again.
*BY MIKE CAVALIERE | ASSOCIATE EDITOR