A Story Blook


Poetic Justice for an Offender

Rolf Denton needed a room. He sat in at a window table at Starbucks looking out at the cold autumn rain that would soon turn into even colder rain and snow. He waited for his old notebook to boot up and find the Starbucks network so he could check CraigsList again.

It wasn't easy for a convicted sex offender to get a place to live these days. Everyone wanted a background check it seemed and the question always came up: have you ever been convicted of a crime? When they found out what the crime was, they hung up the phone or showed him the door.

He really needed a 'no questions asked' room. It was already early November and soon the nights in Seattle would be unbearable for sleeping outdoors. Word had already gotten around about Rolf's past and it wasn't even safe for him to stay at the shelters. The last time he slept in a shelter, he woke up with a knife is his face. Fortunately he fought that guy off, but who knows if he would be lucky enough to wake up next time?

He briefly thought about moving south. He knew he could drum up the money for a bus ticket to LA or Phoenix from a few days panhandling next to the freeway off ramp. He wasn't supposed to go out of state though without telling Bart - his sex offender registry official.

Bart kept bugging him for an address. Just last week he had seen Bart but told him the same thing he always told him: 'My address is Seattle, WA general delivery." They had the usual argument about personal responsibility that went nowhere since Rolf really couldn't find a home and Bart had no real way to get him into a home.

He would just as soon go to Phoenix and call Bart and say: Hey my new address is Phoenix, AZ general delivery."

He was now on CraigsList and his eyes zoomed in on one ad: Live-in Handyman needed ; Rent in exchange for maintenance work. It was a Queen Anne address not far from the Starbucks he was in. He shut his notebook, picked up his bag and walked out.


"My husband used to do the all work but since he died, there's been no one to fix things," the old woman was saying. "This is an old building and there're lots of things that need attending to."

"Barbara, let me start out by fixing that leak in the bathroom" Rolf said. "Then you can see that I'll be able to do all this work for you".

"Oh ok! That sounds like such a great idea - you'll find my husband's tools in the basement" she said as she showed him to the basement door. Barbara walked with him down the stairs into the musty, rather cluttered basement. She pointed to a corner of the basement.

"That's where Ed used to do all his work - you'll find some tools over there" she said. "I'll be upstairs in the study if you need me". With that she walked back upstairs and left him down in the basement.

The workbench was a mess. It was a horrific pile of junk with tools strewn about. Once upon a time, it looked like maybe they were all in a toolbox, but they had not been organized in some time. Rolf decided he would start by organizing all the tools and began picking them from here and there.

Rolf had been working about 5 minutes when he heard a tremendous crash and felt the house shake. Another crash followed and then another. Before Rolf could get to the stairs, the ceiling of the basement caved in and buried him in a large heap of rubble.

Trapped, unable to move, but still alive, Rolf screamed for help.


"Did you hear something?" one the workmen said as the group of wreckers stood at the edge of the pile of rubble.

"Nah, keep going, nothing in there", the foreman said.

Barbara who was standing off to the side watching the whole thing, smiled. She wouldn't be needed again for awhile, so she dissolved quietly and seamlessly into the shadows.

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