“He’s so knowledgeable and such a hard worker.” The woman took a sip of her coffee. “We’re fortunate to have him as our handyman.”
I didn’t post this last week because this knowledgeable, hard worker, who lived in my friend’s vacant home for the last six weeks, stripped the wiring from her house so his eighteen year old son could sell the copper. They also stole her Navajo Rug, sterling silver, jewelry, and tools from her and his employers–about $40,000 worth.
What’s heart-breaking isn’t the lost of material goods but the personal theft of our inherent trust.
This soft-spoken man read the same books as his employers, he asked questions about their interests, and he helped to care for their sick relative.
At night he went home to my friend’s house and mixed up his batch of meth so he, his son, and friends could shoot up and feel good about their life. During the day, he told everyone he was undergoing radiation for cancer treatments. We believed because he looked sickly. We cared, because he seemed to care, and, yes, he did know how to do electrical work, repair roofs, garden, do house renovations, and he read books. Books!
He came into our lives because he didn’t have a job, he didn’t have a place to live, his life was sparse, and he was sick.
We trusted, we trusted for over a year. Then the waters of deception were stirred by an unexpected event. His son accidentally set a shed on fire. They panicked and then tried to get an alert bank teller to cash a forged check.
We had an ideal perception about this down-trodden man and we behaved accordingly, without judgement, with compassion, and altruism. We didn’t know there were warrants out for his and his son’s arrest in two states.
Now I’m on first name basis with our county sheriffs after this last week. I know how to fill out a report for a judge that will produce search warrants, I know what it takes for a crime to be considered a felony, I know the adrenalin rush when you’re staking out a place where the perps may be hiding. I’ve seen the creepy physical world meth heads create for themselves with their strange hoarding of stuff.
This is an excellent experience for mystery writers, but it’s a bad experience for those of us who believe in the power of goodness.