Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

David Swanson: Closer to Home

Closer to Home


By David Swanson

I did something worse than St. Augustine did when I was a kid. I must confess I broke into a house on the other side of town, and I did it just because it was such an ugly beat-down house that needed work so badly. Well, that and I kind of wanted to move out of my parents'.

I broke in at night and I started the renovations. I smashed a lot of the furniture up and actually knocked out a couple of walls. I destroyed the electric panel and stopped up the toilets. The place was a serious, serious wreck, and I was pretty tired, and the owners came home.

They were an elderly couple, and they threatened me and threw stuff at me, but – I'm ashamed to say -- I got a little rough with them and put them in their place. The trouble was, there were two of them and the phone still worked. One of them called the cops, who showed up pretty fast.

I explained to the cops what a wreck the house had been before I'd gotten there, and that seemed to satisfy them at first. Eventually I had to slip them $200 before they would leave me alone. But they were the least of my problems. And when they left, I didn't know what the old man had given them.

It turned out the old folks had installed video cameras in the house, so they had tapes of me busting in and destroying the place, and boy did I come off looking like an idiot, not to mention a criminal. They showed the things on the TV news a little. Then the public debate began.

Most people said I had a moral duty to stay in the house and make sure it didn't get any worse, especially with those walls knocked out. It had been wrong for me to break in, they said, but now that I was there I had better stay until things were worked out properly.

But other people saw it differently. They thought the only way I could come out ahead would be to kill the old couple.

There was a third group too, although they never got mentioned on television. Those were the ones who thought I should just pick up and leave. Those were the ones who worried me. For one thing, if I ever did leave, I knew I would catch hell back home.

I didn't worry too much, though. All I had to do was make sure people knew that if I left, things would get worse. That was what I told the nosey neighbors, and by that means I stayed in the house for several days.

But there was only a limited supply of food in the refridgerator, and I had to give SOME of it to the old couple as long as I was keeping them alive. So, I started selling anything of any value in the house to the neighbors so I could order food. I told them I was using the money to repair the walls so the house wouldn't fall down, but…well… I wasn't. And as if that wasn't enough of a hassle, the old couple kept trying to poison me or electrocute me, even at the very instant I was giving them their dinner. I had to be pretty firm with them, but I could see that it was getting to the point where they just didn't give a damn about anything anymore.

When I'd been in the house for about three months things really grew desperate. The old man and the woman by this point were both ill and coughing all the time, and they had it in for each other as much as for me. The beauty of that was I could tell my parents that I couldn't leave or the couple would kill each other. I had to stay to protect them. And in fact I kept screaming at them to stop fighting each other, but they wouldn't do it. So, I really did feel obliged to stay and watch out for them. Besides, how much could they really do for themselves when their wrists were chained to their ankles?

But I was running out of items to sell, so I began renting out rooms to homeless people and selling pieces of the house itself, like windows and railings, to neighborhood kids to play with. Then the police began taking an interest in me again. Plus the tenants began taking sides with the man and woman against each other and threatening an all-out brawl in the living room.

When I thought things couldn't get any worse, two things happened. First, I promised the cops things would get worse if I left. Second, I stayed and things got worse. For one thing, someone in the house called my family and threatened to kill my brother. And I couldn't get them to admit who had done it, so I had to torture a couple of the tenants before I found out. When I found out who had done it (or so I thought at the time), I tied the young guy to a stake in the front yard and burned him. I was sure that would end my troubles, and I wish that were the worst of my confession, but that's when the whole episode began to escalate.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Binoy Kampmark: Predictable Monstrosities: Priti Patel Approves Assange’s Extradition
The only shock about the UK Home Secretary’s decision regarding Julian Assange was that it did not come sooner. In April, Chief Magistrate Senior District Judge Paul Goldspring expressed the view that he was “duty-bound” to send the case to Priti Patel to decide on whether to extradite the WikiLeaks founder to the United States to face 18 charges, 17 grafted from the US Espionage Act of 1917... More>>

Digitl: Are we happy living in Handy's Age of Unreason?
In 1989 Charles Handy wrote The Age of Unreason. It's a book that looked forward to a time where telecommuting would be an everyday reality. We live in that world today, although we use the term working from home. The book contains other predictions that were on the money... More>>


Reactionary Succession: Peter Dutton, Australia’s New Opposition Leader
The devastation wrought on Australia’s Coalition government on May 21 by the electorate had a stunning, cleansing effect. Previously inconceivable scenarios were played out in safe, Liberal-held seats that had, for decades, seen few, if any challenges, from an alternative political force. But the survival of one figure would have proved troubling, not only to the new Labor government, but to many Liberal colleagues lamenting the ruins. The pugilists and head knockers, however, would have felt some relief. Amidst the bloodletting, hope... More>>


Digitl: Infrastructure Commission wants digital strategy
Earlier this month Te Waihanga, New Zealand’s infrastructure commission, tabled its first Infrastructure Strategy: Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa. Te Waihanga describes its document as a road map for a thriving New Zealand... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Leaking For Roe V Wade
The US Supreme Court Chief Justice was furious. For the first time in history, the raw judicial process of one of the most powerful, and opaque arms of government, had been exposed via media – at least in preliminary form. It resembled, in no negligible way, the publication by WikiLeaks of various drafts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership... More>>




The Conversation: Cheaper food comes with other costs – why cutting GST isn't the answer

As New Zealand considers the removal of the goods and services tax (GST) from food to reduce costs for low income households, advocates need to consider the impact cheap food has on the environment and whether there are better options to help struggling families... More>>