WHO IS ICHABOD?
By Michele Rae DeJean
I walked in the front door of the shop and I noticed all of the guys were over in the far corner under the stair well where the “snake cage” was located. I continued to walk to my little office next to the front “sales” counter. I noticed that the 12 foot Burmese Python, named Monica for some reason, was stretched out to the middle of the floor to the side of the front counter. I tried to appear calm as I walked along the other edge of the counter and slipped through the door of the office and carefully closed the door behind me. This was something I almost never did, but she is almost never out, and certainly not out anywhere near my office but since she is my door gets closed. I watch the activity out on the floor of the shop through the window located next to the door, it overlooked the front counter and the area right in front of it. When it started to appear that most of the guys had moved away from in front of the counter area, and hopefully the snake was with them, I opened the door to the office and tried to look nonchalant in my walk around the counter to the coffee pot in the customer waiting area. From the corner of my eye I could see that Monica was back in her cage so I finished pouring my coffee and went back into my office and left the door open like I usually did.
I started entering the sales slips from the day before into the computer. I looked out at the counter from time to time to see if there were any customers standing there so I could call up a salesman if needed.
I heard someone talking and looked up to see two men wearing suits had just walked up to the counter. I got up and walked towards them thinking that they looked like insurance salesmen and that they were probably looking for my boss.
“Good morning, that is a really large snake you have in that cage.”
“It isn’t mine but yes it is very big. Can I get someone to help you?”
“No, we are looking for Michele, is that you?”
“Yes. What can I do for you?”
“Is it alright if we talk to you in your office?”
I looked around to make sure some of the salesmen were in the shop and I caught one of the guy’s eyes as I turned and walked back into my office. I still was leaning towards their being insurance salesmen. They came into the office and when I got behind my desk and turned around one of the men quietly shut the door and the other one handed me a piece of notebook paper.
“Would you please take a look at this?”
I took the piece of paper and began to read it to myself “To who it may concern: This letter is to inform you that there is a man living at 1850 West 24th street who owns an UZI.”
As soon as I read the address, I recognized that it was my address! I got a really weird feeling in my stomach. This letter was talking about my roommate! I hesitated and looked up at the man who handed me the letter. His eyes met mine and he nodded as if to encourage me to keep reading. “This man brags about having a vicious wolf dog and he has claimed he could shoot kids on the playground from his back yard.” When I finished reading the letter I looked at the two men.
“I don’t understand this.”
“Do you know the man in the letter?”
“Of course I do, you know I do or you wouldn’t be here. It’s my roommate but this letter is bullshit!”
“Does he have an UZI?”
“Yes he has one. He uses it to shoot beer cans and anyone who knows us can tell you our dog is so vicious that she will lick you to death. I have a photo of her here on my desk.”
“She does look like she has wolf in her.”
“She does, but vicious is far from the truth.”
“What do you think your roommate’s reaction to this will be?”
“The same as mine, that it is ridiculous.”
“Has he ever talked about shooting anyone?”
“If he did it would be drunken stupid talk because he is totally nonviolent. He just has guns to hunt with and to shoot at targets.”
“This letter was sent to the school behind your house and they gave it to us. We have to follow up on things like this.”
“Of course you do. I would expect you to as you have no way of knowing if it is true or not. I have to believe you don’t think it is very true or you wouldn’t be here talking to me.”
“Do you have any friends that you are having disagreements with?”
“Not that I can think of. Why?”
“Because that is the usual reason for people sending letters like this, they are trying to get their friends in trouble.”
“I have some friends that don’t like each other very much but none that I know of that don’t like Aaron or I.”
“Do any of your friends go by nick names?”
“One friend whose last name is Wallace goes by Wally. I have a friend who goes by Guido but neither one of those guys would write a letter like this.”
“No this is a one word nickname.”
“We have a friend that used to be a bartender and went by Burrito Bob, but he hasn’t used that name for a long time.”
“No this is, well the name that was signed to the letter was Ichabod. Does that mean anything to you?”
“No. I don’t know anyone that uses that name.”
“We are going to need to come by your house and see the gun.”
“I have a lunch break at noon; I can meet you at the house.”
“That will be fine. We are going to go talk to Aaron right now. We will see you at noon.”
They left my office and I immediately called Aaron to tell him what had just occurred. He worked right across the parking lot in another business so I knew there wasn’t much time before the detectives got there. He was kind of dumbfounded just like I was but he wasn’t freaked out since he knew it was false information just like I did.
Aaron likes to smoke pot and over the many years that we have been roommates we have had a good number of fights about his not putting the bong and pot out of site. I always tell him to hide them when he leaves the house and not to leave everything in his top drawer because that will be the first place anyone would look. This has always really pissed me off because he had pretty much totally ignored me on the subject. I took my break and rushed home, we only lived 5 minutes from where we both worked, and hid Aaron’s bong and took the pot he kept in his top drawer and hid it in a closet. I know that isn’t what the police are specifically going to be looking for but I figure it can’t hurt if they don’t find anything. I went back to work and waited a little while longer before I called Aaron about his visit with the detectives.
He had about the same kind of experience with the cops as I had, they told him the same things they told me and made sure to have him come home at noon as well to show them his guns.
When I pulled up in the driveway at noon Aaron and the detectives were already at the house. I walked in the house and Aaron was in the living room with one of the detectives and showing him some of his guns and the other detective was just watching. After I got there the second detective, who hadn’t said anything before this, asked if it would be alright if he looked around in the bedrooms. He specifically said he wouldn’t go through any drawers. I knew he was lying and when I went in my room five minutes later to get something I could see he had pulled open the top drawers of my dressers a few inches and hadn’t closed them. Just as I figured would happen so I was glad I drove home and hid Aaron’s pot. I realized it wasn’t much of a crime to have the pot but I didn’t see any reason for it to be a factor at all.
I went back in the living room and listened to the detective talk about whether or not we could think of anyone that would have sent the letter. I had remembered after they had left my office that morning that two of our friends, Steve and Bob, had a verbal altercation over a bb gun that Steve had loaned Bob several years before and when he decided he wanted it back a couple years later Bob couldn’t find it and Steve became totally unglued over it. Part of the reason was because Steve’s youngest brother had just committed suicide and the bb gun had belonged to him and Steve wanted it back to remember his brother by. The problem was that Steve had given Bob the impression that he didn’t ever want it back so Bob had let a friend borrow it and hadn’t bothered to keep track of it. I told the detective that the whole incident had gotten quite ridiculous and that both Bob and Steve were a bit unstable and I knew that Bob was taking Prozac. Aaron and I hadn’t been involved with any of that incident and as far as I knew neither Steve nor Bob were mad at us. Bob had done some fairly whacky things around us but had never threatened us. I told the detective that maybe he ought to talk to Bob and Steve but I really didn’t think that either one of them had anything to do with it. The detective wrote down their names and phone numbers. The vicious wolf dog jumped all over them to prove how wrong the letter was about her. We were told that they would talk to Bob and Steve but as far as they were concerned they didn’t think that Aaron was a threat to anyone. They said they would call us the next day and tell us what they found out from talking to our friends.
I called Steve when I got back to work to tell him that the police would be contacting him to tell them how wacked out Bob was. We talked for a while and he acted rather interested in the whole affair and said he might stop by later. I then called Bob to tell him that the detectives would be contacting him. When he answered the phone he was all freaked out. He said that the detectives had already been there and when they handed him the letter to read he said that he freaked out because he thought the letter was about him until he got to the address. He said Steve had sent him a letter much like that after the bb gun incident only it threatened to send a letter to his boss telling him that Bob was a drug addict to try and get him fired. I didn’t tell Bob that I had indicated to the detectives that he might be the one who wrote the letter. I got a very horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. Through the years Steve had spent hours and hours at our house, we had been a good friend to him through all sorts of personal events, we had even given him a key to our house whenever we left town. I had always thought we were good friends but the similarities between the two letters were too close to be a coincidence. I called Aaron at work and told him about the conversation I had with Bob.
I finished out the day at work and had already made plans to go shopping with my sister shortly after I got off work the day before and I couldn’t think of any reason to cancel them. Annette pulled into the driveway at the same time I pulled in from work. Aaron was already home and I noticed that Steve’s car was also in the driveway. I briefly filled Annette in on what had happened that day before we went into the house.
Aaron was sitting on the couch and to the right of him Steve was sitting in the wood rocking chair that was situated between the couch and the television and he was drinking beer. Aaron was not drinking beer and the air in the room was so thick with tension you could cut it with a knife. Annette feigned ignorance of the whole situation and greeted Steve and sat on the couch next to Aaron. I went into my bedroom and changed from my work clothes into my “shopping clothes”. I visited a little and then Annette and I left to go shopping. I was a bit worried about the situation but wasn’t sure what to do. Annette and I immediately went to El Torito’s to have a cocktail, it was always our first stop at the shopping mall before actually going shopping. We weren’t even done with our first drink when Aaron walked into the bar and sat down next to us, he also knew this was always our first stop. I looked at him and had to ask.
“What the hell was going on at the house? It felt really weird.”
“Steve was waiting in the driveway with a half of case of beer when I got home from work. When he went into the kitchen to put it in the refrigerator I got my gun and put in down the side of the couch and sat there next to it. I wasn’t sure what he was there for but I was pretty sure he sent that letter. You and Annette walked in right after that.”
“Annette and I were talking and we are sure Steve is guilty, you could feel it in the air.”
“Yes I am sure he is also, that is why I got the gun out. I wasn’t sure what he came over for.”
“So what did he say after we left?”
“He didn’t say much of anything. I think he was waiting for me to say something but that wasn’t going to happen. He must have gotten the hint that I didn’t want him there because he finished his beer and left. Then I drove here because I knew you would be here and if you weren’t I needed a drink anyway.”
“I just can’t understand what the hell he did it for. We have been his only friends when he didn’t have anyone else.”
“It sure surprised me as well.”
The three of us drank and compared notes on not understanding why Steve had sent the letter to the school and went home. The next morning I called the detective to tell him that I knew who had sent the letter.
“Yes we think it is Steve also. When we went to visit with Bob and showed him the letter he got very frightened and told us that Steve had sent him a very similar letter.”
“Steve stopped by last night and I could tell he was guilty.”
“As far as we are concerned our investigation into this matter is over. I advise you to let it go. We don’t want to be called back for retaliation.”
“Don’t worry, he isn’t worth it.”
As soon as I got off of the phone I called Steve, my mind was racing with all the questions I had as to how he could do this to people who have always been there for him.
“Hi, the police never called me.”
He sounded disappointed. “They aren’t going to.” I said.
“Because they think that you are the one who sent the letter.”
“What do you think?”
“I think, and I can’t believe if after all of the things that we have done together, that it has to be you. It totally blows me away. Was it you?”
“Yes, it was.”
“Why, I don’t understand why you would do it?”
“When I was in Junior High Aaron burnt me with a cigarette.”
“Huh, you are kidding right?”
“He has a good job and he doesn’t deserve it. I am a lot smarter and deserve to be working a lot more than he does.”
“What in the world does that have to do with anything? I can’t believe you did that after all the things I have done for you. All he nights that you visited and told me about all of your problems, and then there were all of things we have done together through the years. The police told me that we were lucky, that if they had been a little more convinced the letter was true they might have broken down our front door and someone could have been shot.”
“I didn’t mention your name.”
“Aaron and I live in the same house and you didn’t think that the letter wasn’t going to affect me?”
“I wasn’t trying to hurt you. Does this mean we aren’t friends anymore?”
“What do you think? I can’t believe you can’t see how screwed up this was. Aaron has been a good friend to you. You are really whacked out to hold something against him he did when you were kids.”
“There have been other things. Like the time…”
“I don’t even want to hear any more of your screwed up words. You need help but you aren’t going to get it from Aaron or I any more. I still can’t believe you did this. Goodbye forever.”
That was the last time I ever talked with Ichabod. Soon after this he moved to Illinois and never came back to the town he grew up in. Good riddance to Ichabod. I still am dumbfounded by how someone I was close to could be that dysfunctional and I couldn’t tell, it kind of scares me.