Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Slippery Slopes

This is the story of Slopes (as in Slippery), a shining beacon to the artisty of con. Slopes is also appropriate because it rhymes with Snopes, the family of Faulkner novel/short story name, who were infamous for their greed and lack of scruples.

I was visiting the house before moving up this last January, and hired him on a referral to fix my back yard, which is a mass of mud that is sloped at a 45 degree angle. He had all sorts of grand plans to shore it up, make it terraced, add little waterfalls to divert the underground streams that flow through it, and build a dog run for the doggies. It all sounded just lovely, and there were little diagrams, and official-looking estimates, etc. I gave him a deposit and went back to L.A. trying to be hopeful.

Then the bills started rolling in. Crashing in, actually. Exorbitant bills for labor, and sweat-inducing bills from local hardware and supply stores. I asked for photos of the progress, and got lovely emails back showing photos of parts and pipes. I asked him to be a little more forthcoming with the photos, and oh, no, he couldn't do that, it's a surprise. It was a surprise, all right, one of many. And by the time I arrived after the moving-drive up from L.A., I was in no mood for surprises.

The day we were leaving L.A., at noon, the guys who were helping us move told me that the trucks were full. By 1 PM I said, "I don't care what's left, we are LEAVING." There were expletives in that sentence, and I will leave them to your imagination. Be creative, there were a lot of them.

My pal, whom I'll call Mimi, drove the 15' truck. B, my partner, drove the 25' truck, with 1 cat in the cab. I drove my SUV with 5 cats and anything else that could fit into it. I had a cell phone and a walkie talkie. B had a walkie talkie, and Mimi had a cell phone. So I was at the end of the caravan, and the designated communications director.

The first day was fairly uneventful. The cats stopped squawling after a couple of hours, B went off onto a wrong freeway and we had to wait for him to discover he was lost and come back, and I handled the squabbling between Mimi and B fairly well. One would call me to complain about the other, and expect me to relay the message. By the end of the trip, I had both the cell phone and the walkie talkie turned off except when I had something to say, but that's another story.

We made it north of Sacramento on the first day, but on the morning of the second day, got turned back at the Siskiyou Pass. We had to backtrack 2 1/2 hours, cut over to the 101, and go the rest of the way north on the 101. In the winter. Rain, sleet, snow, ice, fog, mist, slush, 6 pissed off cats, and B and Mimi screaming at me to scream at each other.

By the time we reached Astoria at 9 PM on the third day of the drive, we were all homicidal. And there was Slippery Slopes, out in front to greet us. The front yard looked great, even at night. It was the only thing that looked great.

He was supposed to paint the floors an umber sort of color. I opened the door, and the floors were flourescent salmon. Salmon??? I am so glad it was dark so I couldn't see the back yard that night.

In the morning, I really almost had an old-fashioned dropsy attack. Break out the smelling salts, Bertha, she's going to hit the deck. The back yard was full of garbage! I mean real garbage ... rotting hay, bags of festering fast food, rotting trees, twisted wire, loose pipes, bottles, cans, discarded scraps of wood, and many completely unidentifiable objects in varying states of decomposition. The so-called dog run was a maze of rotten plywood of assorted sizes, and simply boggled the imagination. THIS was where all that money for labor and materials went? A 45 degree angle VERY EXPENSIVE garbage dump?

Meanwhile, Slippery Slopes was backing and filling, and spewing forth enough absolute bullshit to overcome even the mighty pipes of the Manhattan sewer system. He would fix it! He would complete the work! He would make it right!

Well, the man with a mission got caught on a mission, and off to jail he went before he could get anything done. Not that he was really going to do anything other than talk a lot more, anyway. Then he got out. More promises. Then he went into rehab. Then he got arrested again. There were even more serious charges, involving minors. Oh well, the upshot of it all is that he is in prison. Society, and my back yard, are safe in the interim, I trust.

Ah, the first letters from prison were replete with pleas for forgiveness, and exclamations on how he found God, and he is saved. I often wonder if prisons have boiler-plate letters available to the inmates so they can fill in the blanks and send, since they all sound so alike. The second letter, after all the nicey-nicey stuff contained a plea for some papers related to the job he did in my back yard. He wants to impress the prison officials that he was truly a gainfully employed member of society with the invoices he wrote out for me.

Well, I didn't answer the first two missives, after all, he swindles me and I should help him con the prison board by sending him the very invoices he swindled me with? Oh please, grow a brain. Then along came the third letter. No more pleas for forgiveness, no calling on God to save his scrawny ass, nope none of that. This one was a demand for the paperwork, threatening me with a subpoena if I don't comply. Interesting.

No, I'm not complying. And I've written my comments all over the originals of the invoices so if they do subpoena them, they will do him more harm than good. It's hard to imagine the wreckage he has caused in the lives of those around him throughout his life, as he has no conscience whatsoever.

And that's the end of the story of Slippery Slopes, the Snopsian sociopath. For now, anyway.

Astoria Photografpix

No comments: