My lovely Missus and I have lived in our current house since Spring 2005. Like any house (that’s almost 90 uears old and had been lived in by Pittsburgh Hunkieswho liked drop ceilings and paneling) it has idiosyncrasies, but all in all, it’s a wonderful place. The improvements that have gone into the place have been great, too. That, combined with close proximity to where my Missus works, and a decent commute for me makes the place really wonderful to live in.
Wonderful…that is, save the experience that until the other day was referred to as my Imaginary Enemy. You see, there is this man, we’ll call him “Larry” (since I don’t want to use his real name…and yes, unfortunately I know it…), who thinks he owns the house I live in. Odd, yes. Awkward? You bet!
The whole “Imaginary Enemy” thing is something my Missus came up with, by the way. “Larry” only comes around when I’m here (I have a rather loose, non-traditional work schedule), and she began to think that maybe I had constructed the opposite of an imaginary friend. My Mother-in-Law once saw “Larry” wandering around the house but because of his attire thought he was a delivery guy, or a meter reader or something. Besides that sighting, I was the only one to ever deal with this character…that is until the other day.
The first time he showed up was probably almost 3 1/2 years ago. I thought he was just some old timer who used to live in the neighborhood, so I was nice to him. He came to the back porch (which is more like our front door) and knocked, and we chatted. It was during this meeting that he dropped on me that he owned the house. I didn’t know what he meant and I tried to explain to him that he didn’t, that my in-laws had purchased the house from the former owners, and that I rented it from my in-laws…the current owners. Simple, right? No such luck. He wasn’t convinced.
Over the next few months “Larry” came back a few times and each time I got more and more freaked out by this. He didn’t make a lot of sense, always saying something about owning the place, and never being clear enough to fully understand. There were details about his son telling him that the place was his, and about him growing up here, but nothing that really made any sense. I must admit, I was less than receptive in these subsequent meetings. I mean, the first time was one thing. The next few freaked me out a little, and by the 3rd or 4th time I was simply angry. I began shouting at him to leave….brandishing a bat when he came around…that kind of thing. Now, understand that “Larry” is an older man. I’d say he’s in his 60s. I don’t want to beat an older man with a bat. That’s not to say I WON’T do such a thing, but I really want to avoid it if I can. Besides, my Missus said I probably shouldn’t beat him. She’s smart, so I trust her in these matters.
The visits continued, but there was usually more time in between them. “Larry” still had some mail sent here, and I ended up having to go to multiple post offices (and a Post Master!) to get that sorted. He even had checks sent here once! The mail has slowed to a trickle. Now, and I know it’s not the best thing to do, if I get anything with his name on it, I simply rip it up and throw it away. I’m rather tired of dealing with it. I went through all the proper channels, and MOST of the time it’s fine because my regular letter carrier is a great guy who knows the situation and keeps a look out for stuff for me.
All that said, the last time “Larry” came around a few months back and I was at the end of my tether and I told him that if he came back I would call the cops. I don’t deal well with cops and I attempt to keep them out of my affairs as much as possible. I figured this for a scare tactic. I mean, me screaming at him with a bat didn’t work…the Missus really didn’t want me to beat his ass, so I figured this would work. Ha. If only I were so lucky.
The weather was pretty nasty a few days ago and my work was shut (Woo-HOO!…Snow Day!), so I did what anyone with a driveway and a forecast for freezing rain/snow might do: I planned to do some early de-icingand work on snow removal later. (Having a drive way is an odd thing. It takes more of my time than I thought it would.) After one round of shoveling I came back in the house to have a hot cup of tea, let my clothes dry out and hopefully do some reading or laundry. While I was relaxing in my robe watching part of a film on the Troubles in Ireland I heard some crunching around outside. On such a day Iwassurprised to hear it so I went to the window and I saw “Larry” with a big duffle bag and a Gateway Computer box poking around some stuff I had placed outside the basement door after a marathon basement cleaning session last Saturday. I was so pissed I can hardly put it into words. I threw open the window and began yelling at “Larry” to get the hell out of here. Much to my surprise “Larry” told me that the last time I was here I told him that if he came back I would call the cops and he thought that I should so we could work this out. Whaaa? This was very VERYodd to me, but hey, who am I to not do a solid for old “Larry”, right? So I bit the bullet and did something I’ve NEVER done in my life…I called the cops.
The 911 operator was a peach. He was a very nice guy who waded through the issue of there being two houses with my number on my street (on in the city, on in the suburb) and was generally cool about everything. He even went so far as to comment on how odd it was that the guy who wouldn’t leave my yard was just sitting there waiting for the fuzz to show. I did a hasty change while on hold, to some old denims and a red hoodie, and put on my wellies and an over sized parka for the wait outside for the cops. I mention this because at one point the second cop who showed up asked if “Larry” was the person who lived in the house! In all fairness and upon reflection, I might have looked a little like an intruder.
Cop #1 showed up and was a typical Yinzer guy. He asked what was goingon and I told him all about it and then he asked to see some identification from the both of us. I had to run back inside to fetch mine, so I’m not sure what “Larry” and Cop #1 talked about, but when I came back out I overheard “Larry” saying something about having a licence to drive a truck. Cop #1 took our identification to run his check and I was left alone wih “Larry.” I think I said something about him really having to stop coming to my place and all he would say was “We’ll see…We’ll see what the police say.” Fine.
Around this time Cop #2 rolled up. She was a rather typical looking Yinzer lady with a badge and gun. I noted that she had a very nice French Manicure and said something about not expecting nails like that on a Peace Officer. She said that in her line of work she had to do something to remind herself she was a girl. Cop #1 called over to me from a discussion on his phone to ask the name of my in-laws. I told him and he seemed to have at that point made up his mind that “Larry” was for whatever reason terribly mistaken about his ownership of my house and proceeded to tell him a s much. I was impressed with the way that he was so direct…saying to “Larry” …”You don’t own this house and you can’t come back here.” Later on he mentioned how it wasn’t OK to “harass-i-fy” people. Cop #2 asked him if that was a word and he said that his daughter had made it up and that he really liked it.
At this point “Larry” seemed a bit crestfallen. After all, he had wanted ME to call the cops and all, and here they were, telling HIM to leave. I said to “Larry” … “Listen, give me your address and I’ll have my in-laws send you a copy of the deed if you think that will help.” “Larry” was not impressed. He was just sad that it was all over, but he had other business. After all, he did have that Gateway Computer box. He asked the cops (and me) when trash day was because he wanted to get rid of the computer. Cop #1 pointed to the dumpster behind the building next to our house and told him to put it in there. And with that “Larry” toddled off over the frozen ground to deposit his unwanted computer.
My Missus put calling the cops into perspective for me. She said that after all, it was the business of cops to protect property, and this was a property dispute, so it was really within their jurisdiction. Again, she’s smart, so I trust her in these matters. Cop #1 told me that if “Larry” ever returns, that I should call them again because even though he wasn’t wanted for anything (nor had he, in the cops words “wandered away from anywhere”) who knows what he wants or would do.
Have I seen the last of “Larry?” I would love to say yes, because this whole experience has made me very tired. The realist in me, however, says no. We shall see. I’ll keep you posted.