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Purloining My Home


Mario V. Farina

Copyright 2017 Mario V. Farina

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Mario V. Farina

Email: mario@mariofarina.com

My name is Elizabeth W. Benton. I'm a widowed, retired English teacher. I've lived alone in Londontown, having made my home here for thirty-three years. In 1984 I purchased a lovely little bungalow that overlooks Lake Emeritus. One of my greatest joys is just sitting in my rocker on the porch at the end of a busy day, enjoying a cup of coffee while gazing over the waters of the lake. This is a story of how I recently went through several weeks of harrowing fear and anguish resisting a cruel attempt by someone to purloin my home.

It started one day when I received a typed letter with no return address on the envelope. There was a bold, intimidating message in it which read as follows:

Ms. Benton,

I have come to the conclusion that you have overstayed your welcome in Londontown. I have hidden a one-hundred pound bomb, left over from World War II, not far from your house. I'm giving you thirty days from the receipt of this letter to abandon your home and move out of the area. Failure to comply with this command, will result in the bomb being placed in your bedroom and exploded while you are asleep. I trust you will agree that this letter has gave you sufficient notice and that you have took adequate notice of my warning.

There was a typed signature, The Merciful Portender of Imminent Doom.

I called the Police Department in Londontown, and they sent Officer Ronald Shalway to see me. He was a large genial gent with a ruddy, round face, and fiery red hair, about thirty in age. He studied the note for several minutes, than stated that the policy of the department with cases like this was to take a wait and see attitude. He thought the author of the message was bluffing. There was no bomb. The intent of the note, he thought, was to frighten me so that I would move and leave my property for him to appropriate. I was not happy to hear what Mr. Shalway's opinion was, but felt there was not a great deal I could do about it. The only choices available to me were to watch and see or move. Leaving the letter with Officer Shalway, I left. I had decided to watch and see.

To request moral support, I called my friend Emma Swinton, who lived a few miles from me in Londontown. "Emmy," I said, "I need to talk to someone. You're my best friend. Someone has sent me a threatening letter demanding that I abandon my home, otherwise he'll bomb me out of it!" I knew I had made a dramatic statement and that Emma would come back with abundant sympathy. She did not disappoint me.

"Liz! What are you saying? This is the worst thing I've ever heard from you! Tell me what's happening!"

"I received a letter telling me that there has been a bomb planted nearby that will be placed in my home to blow me out of existence if I don't move. I showed it to Officer Shalway, and he said the police wouldn't do anything about it at present. I'm scared out of my mind. I have no one who can help me except you!"

"That's horrible!" Emma responded. "It's probably someone who wants to live where you do at the edge of the lake. It is a lovely home. How can I help you?"

"Just by being there for me, Emmy! Just knowing that I can count on you! Otherwise than that, I can't think of anything you can do except see what happens. It may just be someone playing a prank on me. I won't move. I have nowhere to go."

"You can count on me," Emma promised. "Call me anytime. If you need me, I could be there in ten minutes. Liz, this may be serious. Don't take the warning lightly!"

"Thanks for your support," I said. "It means a great deal to me." We hung up.

Five days later another letter came. I read it with somewhat more than a titanic degree of trepidation. A better way to say this, is that I was frightened out of my gourd!

Elizabeth Benton:

I don't see any indication that you are making plans to move. I don't care where you go, so long it is far from here. You are the ugliest and meanest woman I have ever saw. I hate you, and wish you malevolence of the worst kind. Go! Leave at once! I won't care where you have went. Don't bother with the police! They can't help you. That bomb has just gotten a lot closer to your home! The next sound you hear may be "BOOM!"

The Merciful Portender of Imminent Doom.

My first thought was to call Officer Shalway. "Officer," I screamed into the phone, "I've received another letter, worse than the first. I assume it's a man. He says, I need to move at once, otherwise, I can expect to be bombed! Isn't there something I can do besides waiting to be killed?"

"I'm sorry to hear what you're telling me, Ms. Benton," the officer replied. "I had hoped we would not hear any more from this individual. I don't agree it must be a man. It probably is. But it could be any demented individual. This is all I can say, at present. Are you able to move away for a short time?"

"No, I don't think I can leave my home for even a few days. I have a friend, whom you probably know, Emma Swinton. She has indicated to me many times, that she loves her solitude. I'll ask her about what you've suggested, but I think I know what her answer will be."

"Please do that," said Officer Shalway. "I'll do what I can from this end. If I make any headway uncovering who might be writing those letters, I'll get back to you. Do you have anybody in mind that you suspect?"

"No, Officer, I don't. I haven't done anything to hurt anybody. I don't know of any reason why anyone would write me letters like this, unless they really do want to steal my home. Thank you anyway, I'll call my friend."

I tapped Emma's number on my cell phone. "Emmy," I said, "I received another of those vicious letters. It's worse than the first! I called Officer Shalway. He wondered whether I could move, possibly with you, for a short time. I know how you feel about living alone, and you'll probably say no, but I'll ask anyway."

"I'm truly sorry, Liz," was the response. "It's a psychological thing. My doctor said that I need to live alone, otherwise my health would suffer. I hate to respond this way, but I just can't do what you're asking! But I have an idea. I love your house. What do you think about swapping homes for a short time, and making it well-known what we've done? Maybe, that monster, whoever it is, well decide to leave us alone. I'm not a brave person, but I'm sure I could call up enough courage to do this for you."

"That's so very gracious of you, Emmy," I said, "but I can't expose you to what that individual might decide to do. I'll just have to be courageous enough myself to see what happens. Officer Shalway has indicated that he might find out who is causing all this."

There was a third letter a few days later.

Evil woman

I will not be denied. I have did my best to get you out of my sight. I had gave you credit for brains that you apparently don't have. The next thing you won't hear will be the explosion that causes your death. This is your last warning. Go!

The Merciful Portender of Imminent Doom.

I sank into the armchair in the living room, all strength gone from my body. The cell phone in my pocket jingled a merry tune. I fumbled with my clothing, found it, and opened the cover. Recognizing the number on the display, I said, "Hello Emmy. I'm so glad you called. There has been another letter. I'm about ready to give up. I'll get in my car and go wherever it takes me."

"I think you're being wise," was a comment at the other end. "I'm worried about you. You do need to move. You do need to go somewhere, anywhere that will take you out of area. Don't worry about your house. I'll come and care for it every day. When you have settled down, we can talk about what you should do next. If you need to sell, I'll be happy to consider purchasing it. You know I love your house because of its view of the lake. But we shouldn't talk about that now! Your first consideration should be leaving at once so that you will be safe!"

Suddenly, an idea seeped into my brain like osmosis. "Emmy," I muttered. "I almost feel a suspicion that I can hardly put into words. Is it you who has been sending me those depraved letters?"

"Of course not, Liz. How could you have the gall to say such a thing?" There was a click as she hung up.

Almost immediately, my cell phone signaled another call. The number was new to me. "Hello," I said.

There was a male voice at the other end. "Ms. Benton," he said. "My name is Robert Thorn. I'm an attorney. I have an office on Main Street in Londontown. Officer Ronald Shalway called concerning an investigation he's making. He's here now on the other line listening to our conversation. Do you have a moment to talk?"

"Yes, of course," I said.

"Ronny told me about the letters someone has wrote to you," he continued.

"Have you seen any of the letters?" I asked.

"He has gave me a copy of the first one. Real ugly!"

"I gave him a copy of the one you left with me," came the voice of Officer Shalway.

"Maybe I can help," said the attorney.

"Mr. Thorn, how can you help me?" I asked.

"I've been looking for a home in the area where you live," he said. "I have drove by your home and admired it greatly. I thought that if you had went away for some reason, like maybe because of a bomb threat, your house would be available, and I could take it off your hands at a fair price, maybe a little less than what you would want."

Listening to Mr. Thorn speak, I was appalled at his errors with the past participles of common verbs. I played a hunch and said, "Mr. Thorn, do you know that you made several grammatical errors in all three of the letters you sent me!"

"No way!" he responded. "I spent a lot of time with them letters!"

"Sir," I said, "how could you, as a lawyer, have gotten away with that kind of English? I used to be an English teacher and take instant notice of abominable grammar."

"Rob, did you write those letters? It was Officer Shalway's voice!"

"No, it ain't me!" he exclaimed. "I didn't never write nothing nasty to nobody!" Robert Thorn vociferously asserted."

I listened while the two men were speaking to each other, getting more and more relieved with each passing moment.

"You just admitted it," came the strong, authoritative voice of Officer Shalway. "Put your hands behind your back, I'm placing you under arrest!"

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