“So I was sitting on the couch looking out the window at a woman getting out of a burgundy truck. I was thinking, What? Is she here to read the meter? Then I see her walking back to her truck with my wreath. She stole it right off my front door.”
This is how one of my husband’s caregivers began the story. She had purchased a wreath I made as a way to help fund nighttime caregivers who turn Todd every hour so he and I can sleep. We have over one hundred Fraser firs in the field next to the Christmas Tree House — an endless supply of raw material. And Frasers make great wreaths because they don’t lose the needles. Well, hardly lose the needles.
“I jumped up and ran after her,” she continued, “and if I were two seconds quicker I could’ve grabbed her by her jacket. She goes peeling off, but she had dealer plates on the truck and I got the numbers. I called 911, and they tracked her down within an hour.”
When state police found her, the wreath was gone, but they found Fraser fir needles and the hanger in the truck. The suction cup used to hold the hanger onto the window was in her purse. They also found packages she had stolen from other homes. The truck itself had a busted out back window, and it was from a dealer in Ironwood, so that might have been stolen too.
“Crime in the UP. I’ve lived here for 41 years and never thought I’d see the day,” Todd’s caregiver told the cops.
I had to laugh, because that’s almost the same line used by my character Maribel Myers in my book Snow Country. Whenever she cannot find something, she blames it on Vance:
“I’m okay. I’m okay. Except for the crime. Never thought I’d live to see the day when there was so much crime in the UP. Crime in the UP.” She leaned forward and banged the mug on the table, sloshing coffee.
“What crime is that?” Grandma asked.
“Burglaries. Ever since that TV guy came, things have gone missing. That Vance—he got one of my house keys. He lets himself in and takes stuff.”
“What’s missing this time?” Grandma asked.
“My ammunition. My ammunition.” Maribel scowled. “What am I going to do? I can’t shoot the squirrels, and they’re making such a mess in my attic. I can’t defend myself if Vance comes back again. I even reported it to law enforcement, and Officer Johnson searched the house and couldn’t find a trace of it. Vance took it.” She sighed. “At least the mere brandishing a weapon, even if it’s unloaded, is enough to scare off intruders. That is, if I’m awake. Vance comes at night. He comes at night.”
Maribel doesn’t think completely straight, so it’s hard to know the truth. The fact is that crime in the UP isn’t rampant. It’s rare enough that people often leave doors unlocked and car keys on the visor.
But sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction.