When we bought the house in May, the agreement was that they could live in it until September, and pay us rent. Our lease with our current house expired in September, so that gave them time to move out. At the bargaining table, they proudly clamed that their new house would be built by then. "How far is is now?" I asked. "We still have to dig the foundation," said the seller. Build an entire house... in 5 months. Well, I shrugged in my head, "Not my problem," but I made a mental not that he would start hinting to stay. Which he did around July, but we said, "Nope, we won't have a place to live. Sorry." Then he said this would force his whole family, which was three adults, three teens, and two dogs, to find an apartment. "Yeah," I agreed.
They did move out in time. To an apartment, which they moaned about. When we did the "final check-through," the floor in my den was missing. There was bare concrete and some spirals of old cement, which was NOT a pre-existing condition. When I asked why this was done, the old owner cheerfully said, "The old floor tile was asbestos, which I removed for you!" Then why didn't he put a floor back? "Uh... so you could, um... choose your own!" Part of the agreement was that any changes he made, he'd have to pay for. So when I said I'd hire a guy to put my floor in and charge him, he said he could do it. And so I agreed, and I can't complain at all about the floor he put in, but what the hell? I have always had this fanciful theory that there was a huge blood stain on it they had to remove.
They left a lot of stuff behind, with the promise of picking it up later. Then they vanished for months with no word. Their contact information was a dead end. Then they showed up in a van around December, and picked up about half of what they left behind. They have never come back for the other half.
Judging from the stuff they left, along with some graffiti and brands of things they left behind, I suspect they sold for Amway. There's graffiti in the attic that says, "Doug and Donna, Silver Star Members, 1998!" A lot of the light bulbs were Amway. Same with the A/C filters, water filters, and cans of paint. I have a ... dislike ... of Amway (another post for someday). When I asked Doug what he did for a living, he gave the typical, "I am a distributor for major brand name products to businesses in the area." Amway people say that because they know the word "Amway" is a named more sullied than Enron and Amy Fisher put together.
Bad Amy Fisher joke...
A few times, the former owner or his brother came by. By coincidence, either myself or Christine were at home at the time. One day, I was at home, and the former owner went into the shed... poked around, went into a tool box, pulled something out, put his finger in it and licked his finger, shrugged, and continued poking around. Red flags sprung up so fast, they nearly knocked me to the floor. I went out on the deck, and said, "Hey, Doug... what's up?" He looked stunned, a bit too surprised, and said, "Oh... sorry, I didn't know you were at home." I told him that he needs to tell us when he comes to visit, as per our agreement, and the same went for his brother. "My brother? Oh, yeah. He came for his ladder. Say, when are you guys at home, anyways?" I reflexively lied, "One of us is always at home, either Christine or myself... or both." He had a poor poker face. "Oh," he said. I told him he needs to call, because once we have the alarm system installed, it might call the police. I never saw him again. I changed all the locks that day. I also scoured the shed, but never found what he might have been licking.
Other weird stuff happened in the few months after we bought the house.
The sheriff came by, looking for the grandfather who used to live in the apartment we have downstairs. There was a subpoena to go to court over some $110,000 in property he owed, or had a lein on, or something. We got a lot of letters for that guy.
A small beatup car drove by our house, and took some pictures, and then drove away. We thought it was the insurance company, but we're not sure.
Then another beatup mopar-style car drove past our house slowly while I was at home alone. Then it drove past again, parked in front of our house, and was there for about half an hour before two very large men got out, and came to my front door. One was wearing corduroy blazer, and the other was wearing a football jersey. When I answered the door, they asked, "Mr. [former owner}?" I said no, that they had moved out about 8 months ago. They looked at each other, and then said, "We're college friends of his, do you know where he went?" I said that they left a forwarding address I was sending mail to, but I stopped when they started getting returned. They told me that if he stops by, to tell them to contact his alumni association. Then they went back into the car, were there for another 20 min or so, and then sped off with a screech. I mean, I can't honestly say who they were, but I doubt very much they were Doug's "college friends" if they didn't know what he looked like.
Over the years since then, the mail trickled down to almost nothing but a few junk mailings of the various Christian organizations they belonged to. Over a year later, Mrs. Former owner came by unannounced looking for their huge ladder, which Doug's brother had already taken (which her response was, "Oh, that's right..."). I told her all the people that came looking for them, and she claimed she knew what some were about ("Oh, my father was involved in a trial over some property we rented out."), but had a dead poker face when I mentioned the two men ("I don't know who those people might have been..."). She gave us a new address, and laid on us a story about how miserable they were, that finally, a year later, they got someone to dig their foundation of their home in Winchester. She left us a newer address, when I forwarded mail to, but then I lost it about a year later. I wasn't getting personal mail for them anymore, by that point.
In the years following, we heard other rumors about them. Most people liked them, specifically their kids, who apparently were the chore-doing people of the neighborhood. Their did lawns, mostly, but were also hired out for other odd jobs. Their friends... seemed a little off. They befriended a lot of teens I would never have allowed my son to play with. One of them still hangs around, and is like the Eddie Haskell of our neighborhood, trying to get CR to do stuff for him. This teen told me that the former owner was like a father to him, which doesn't give me a lot of confidence, because he's always boasting what a great hacker he is. There were hints that the former owners were rather religious and pretty preachy about it, and the junk mail we still get in their name from time to time supports this. A lot of Bible camps, Christian retreats in the wilderness, and invitations to big productions in outdoor theaters in Pennsylvania, where one can watch the saga of Noah's Ark acted out in a huge amphitheater with a full orchestra, a 500-person chorus, and a laser show projected on the side of a mountain. Hallelujah. The best was a series of junk mail where you can learn how to preach the gospel while selling real estate (I kid you not). But no one really had anything mean to say about them, so I was left in confusion as to who these people really were.
But a few months ago, we started getting personal Christmas cards for them, and a few more mailings have started to come through. A few have been for the grandfather, from his Veteran's Benefits and Social Security info. So now while we don't get must junk mail for them anymore, we are getting some serious personal stuff. I mark them "return to sender" but the mailman, who is an idiot (don't get me started), won't take them. I tried putting them in another mailbox, and they just keep sending the stuff back to me. So I shred them. I don't want part in whatever they are doing; I don't even read them.
Why do I bring this up now? Because Christine just told me that another car drove slowly past our house and took pictures. A small, older, gray Toyota. I also got a credit card application response (denied) in the grandfather's name, this address, filled out in October of last year. I have this... fear that some Mafia is pissed off at them, and one day some thugs will come into my house, thinking I am the former owner, and break my arms or something. Or that they are committing financial fraud out of my mailbox.
I hope I am just paranoid, but as they told us in safety class once, "Nine out of ten rape victims reported they felt 'something was amiss' right before they got attacked."
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000350.html