You know what Rick’s like; he didn’t like my subtitle ‘An Immigrant’s Tale’ for each A-Musing, so he edited it out, which is a pity because some readers might not realize that these tales are all based on
reality, not make-believe. Rick harbored doubts about the STAR’s readership: he thought they might think it was the same article repeated week after week. He’s a funny chap sometimes. Take the thief’s house, for example. I have a friend, an acquaintance really, that I’ve chatted to almost daily for several years each time I visit his place of employment – I won’t say where for fear of embarrassing him.
Whenever I can, and whenever my visits coincide with his knocking off time, I give him a ride home after work because he lives not too far out of my way, and it’s always nice to chat about this, that, and whatever; Life, the Universe and Everything, as they say.
Once when the weather was particularly inclement, and it was raining mongoose and manikou, I drove him a little further along his road than usual, and we sat talking until the downpour eased up enough for him to dash for safety. That thing about West Indians and Rain, by the way, is worth an a-musing or two down the road.
Anyway, there we were, sitting in the car chatting when my friend suddenly pointed to a fairly affluent house, residence really it was so well built, and substantial to boot, and said, “That’s the thief’s house.”
I must confess that I was somewhat taken aback and believed that my ears had somehow deceived me due to the cacophonic drumming on the roof of the car – this was no normal pitter-patter of dainty droplets – and so asked him, ‘The thief’s house?’
‘Yes, that’s where he lives.’
I chewed over this information for a second or two. Obviously my local knowledge was a tad deficient, so I played for time. ‘Oh, the thief! You mean the thief. That thief. He lives there, does he? I didn’t know he lived there. Interesting that. Who would have thought he lived there?’
I was obviously babbling so I decided to quit while I was ahead, and fell silent. My friend came to my rescue. ‘He’s lived there for some years already.’
Obviously, the thief and his residence were a feature of the neighborhood; a local hero, a loveable villain, a Robin Hood; who knows?
‘And people don’t mind having a thief in their midst?’ I ventured.
‘Oh, no. Nobody minds. He doesn’t work around here. He does all his work up at Cap.’
‘That’s good, then,’ I managed, nodded, and added, ‘Good he leaves you alone, I mean. Good.’ Babbling again.
‘He’s good at it,’ my friend elaborated. ‘He spends hours, days sometimes, sitting in the bush watching a house, watching everybody coming and going until he knows all their movements, and then he goes in and takes what he wants.
‘Wow!’ I felt some form of appreciation was required. ‘He takes what he wants, does he? Just like that? Wow!’ I added another Wow to show how impressed I was. It could have been a ‘Gosh!’ but that might have been too colonial.
‘Well sometimes, he takes a truck and empties the house, if he thinks it’s worth his while. That’s how he furnishes the house.’
Recovering my composure, I added, “Refurnishes his house often, does he?’ but was immediately quashed.
‘Every month or so, yes; till he sells the stuff, of course.’You see, here was a perfectly decent citizen living comfortably next door to a seasoned criminal that posed no threat to the neighborhood because chose to operate outside his immediate community. And in any case, the rich people of Cap Estate could probably afford to refurnish their houses as quickly as the thief emptied them.
Values are funny things. They come into play only when needed, and only when we ourselves feel threatened. No, sorry. I can’t think like that.