The story of the 10-foot stolen cigarette does not end well.
The pilfered yard art has been found, dismembered and left as trash next to a pile of mulch behind Takoma Park Middle School.
How the cigarette — grimly sliced in two with a chain saw — wound up a little more than two miles from its installation in the Silver Spring yard of Jeannie and Trifin Roule is unclear.
Jeannie, who works at the FDA, got a note early Monday morning from a stranger who sought out her e-mail address after seeing the sliced cigarette on a morning walk. Jeannie called police, who found the sliced up cigarette missing its filter, which was labeled with the word Marlboro in the original rendering.
“Maybe whoever took it kept the filter because it was their favorite part,” Jeannie said.
I examined the crime scene myself. I found the sliced pieces a little water-logged from recent rains. I kicked the remains to see just how heavy this artwork was, and my big toe quickly discovered its sturdiness. (Ouch.)
Jeannie told me she was saddened and somewhat angered by the whole caper. Police told her they would see if there was any surveillance video from the school.
“That someone would put all that effort into taking it and then destroying it, that’s what bothers me most,” she said. “If they had stolen it and put in in their backyard or something because they liked it, that would have pleased me.”
But Jeannie said she was also heartened by dozens of supportive notes from neighbors on her Internet mailing list and this blog. One neighbor, who identified himself as SilverSpringGuy in my blog comments, was a notable dissenter.
“I’m willing to bet the more polite people chose not to respond since there is less anonymity on the list serve, but enjoyed a chuckle and fist pump just like i did when i read it!” he wrote in one comment. In another comment he wrote: “They were asking for it and they knew it too.”
But commenters battled back on this blog, defending the Roules.
“My vote is for replacing SilverSpringGuy with a warm human being,” one wrote.
Another: “The Roules are a good example of what we teach our children: express yourself and share. Far from decreasing the value of our houses, as the naysayer SilverSpringGuy claims, they are an example of what makes this neighborhood so desirable.”
Jeannie and Trifin will rebuild. Just today, Jeannie called the telephone pole company to see about acquiring a new pole to convert and they will add it back alongside the parking meter, the tall yellow ladder, and the red silhouette of a man possibly cut out from an episode of “Mad Men.”
She can get a 10-foot pole or a 25-foot pole. “Ten feet seems fine,” she said.