Press "Enter" to skip to content

One Stump Town

He was a mean ugly slumlord, pushing 80 with a big chip on his shoulder. Every week he drove his old yellow van into town to pick up groceries that grew rancid on the shelves of his country store in downtown Whitethorn. He also bought hot items from the junkies and thieves, usually paying too much so when the police finally came to shut him down they found thousands of unsellable things stacked and packed into the garage, the back of the store, and in the double wide where he and his wife had to thread their way down the narrow passageway to their bedroom through the pawned contraband. The court let him off without jail time but made him shut down his curdled milk market and forbade any family member to reopen.

He had always been a collector, from Tennessee to South Pasadena to the hills of the Coast Range, electronics his particular passion. Soon after the authorities shut down the illegal pawnshop his double wide burned to the ground after one of his minions tried to thaw out the frozen pipes with a blowtorch. He and his wife moved across the street to the abandoned post office where they lived without a shower for years. His wife was a friendly lady often seen walking her big dogs along the county road. His daughter was sexy big-breasted manic-depressive, a Prozak-munching chain-smoker who frankly couldn't believe he was her father. She'd done a stint minding the store then fled South not looking back. At her used and antique business in the South Bay she often sold hot items he shipped down to her. His son was a huge idiot-savant who found the junkie of his dreams, following her needle to her place by the river. They called her the black widow when more than one boyfriend showed up bloated and floating in the Mattole.

So everyone waited for the old man to die but he wouldn't. Heart worms and heart attacks and heartaches wouldn't bring down the mean ugly slumlord of the one stump town. Sure it was a thankless job collecting rents for the dilapidated cabins that often mysteriously burned down. What seemed like a beautiful meadow by the side of the road was overwhelmed by its lowlife history. When the old slumlord went out to collect rents he took with him the gun which he'd drawn on others before, threatening, keeping his fiefdom under control. One day he arrived at the house where one of his tenants was attempting to add a small addition onto the cabin in lieu of rent. No way said the slumlord and when the renter tried to argue he shot him in the back. The police came, listened to the slumlord's lies, and believed that maybe it was self-defense against a young unarmed man. The neighbors were kind of surprised to see him driving around in his van the next day, and not arrested.

The gunshot victim eventually recovered and sued the slumlord for wrongful assault. Within a few years he ended up owning that disreputable meadow, once called Living Waters when the Jesus freaks took over for a spell. The old man withered under the strain of the court battle, everyone was glad to see him go, justice was done—there was a new slumlord now.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *