notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Why I Don’t Read True-Crime Stories

It was the summer I was twenty.

I almost wrote that I was home from college for the summer, but that year, I actually commuted to college so I was home all year anyway. So let’s just say that I was on summer break from school. And dreaming of the Fall when I would actually move out of my bright green and pink frilly bedroom and into a college dorm with an Indian batik bedspread and a Mao poster.

My sister Claudia had her first apartment, which she shared with two other young teachers. It was a very cool apartment – mostly because they were “older women” and also because they were known to have men drop by. I loved men dropping by. I visited all the time and planned my exit in the evening to coincide with the departure of one (any) of the men – hoping they will take me to an all-night diner for coffee. And sometimes they did.

One day mid-week my sister called. She had the flu. Her roommates were gone for the day, and she was all alone. She was quite sick. She hated being alone and sick. Would I come by and stay with her for a few hours?

So I went all the way over there – the apartment was five whole blocks from my parent’s home.

Claudia let me in and immediately went back to bed. I played around a little bit with the TV, but a summer afternoon in 1971 was not exactly peak viewing time. I had a soap opera on for some background noise, and leafed through some magazines.

I checked on my sister. She was sound asleep. Bored, I switched off the TV and browsed through the books in the living room bookshelf. And I pulled one out.

“The Boston Strangler.”

thebostonstrangler

I was fascinated. Mesmerized.

Of course, I already knew quite a lot about The Boston Strangler. Living in Connecticut, you couldn’t help but follow the case. Especially after we learned that the Strangler was most likely also the “Green Man” – notorious in Connecticut for rape and assault of housewives by pretending he was a repairman.

As the Boston Strangler and the Green Man, the perpetrator (who was most probably Albert DeSalvo, although there are some who do not believe his confession) wore the dark green work clothes that usually signified an appliance or utility repairman back in the early 60s.

As a little kid, the Green Man had put a scare into the people of Connecticut. I had been warned not to open the door for a repairman without my mother’s permission – and yes, people actually came to your house to fix things in those days. You did not throw out the miscreant TV or toaster and get a new one – you had the broken one fixed. Really.

(BTW, did you know that we used to have our shoes re-soled, and we’d wear them for years? Really. I’m that old.)

Anyway, I was engrossed in this book. I read for hours. I remember it as well-written as well as creepy. The way this guy would so convincingly gain the trust of so many women that they just opened the door and let him in. And wham.

And then.

Wham.

The doorbell rang.

I jumped about four feet.

And I looked through the peephole.

And it was a guy in a green uniform.

I opened the door a crack with the chain still on and my heart pounding with a beat that reminded me of “My Sweet Lord.”

“Hi,” the green man said. “I’m here to fix your door.”

A repairman.

In green.

Wants.

To.

Come.

In.

“Ummm, I’m the babysitter,” I said, not coming up with a better word for keeping watch over my sick, sleeping, older sister. “What’s wrong with the door?”

“It’s not flush to the floor. See how much space there is at the bottom? Someone here complained that it wasn’t safe.”

Well, that couldn’t have been my sister. My sister would never ever notice that a door was not flush to the floor. But both of her roommates could easily want that fixed.

But – “not safe?”

How dangerous is a slight crack at the bottom of your door? Who did they think would break in? Mr. Fantastic? Flat Stanley?

And with my finger still holding my place in “The Boston Strangler” – I unhooked the chain and let him in.

I backed up even with the bathroom door. I planned on jumping in there and locking myself in if I had to.

The guy had a long thin piece of board. He glued it to the bottom of the door and left.

And I never read another true crime book.

Oh yeah. I know what you are thinking.

With regards to my poor sister asleep in the bedroom:

You have never seen Claudia sick. I figured he’d take one look at her and run away.

34 Comments

  1. Great story. I’m with you — I always let them in. I guess I’d rather be strangled in my bed than spend my life fearing the guy who would do it to me. And I probably will — I let everybody in. (When we lived next to the RR tracks, I’d let those workmen in for a drink of water all the time. They were always nice — never did anything improper. My parents were the ones who would have killed me if they’d known I was letting the guys in.)

    Like

    • He had a tool box. That meant he was a real repairman and not a killer, right?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Right. And he fixed the door. Oh, and he didn’t kill you.

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  2. mercyn620

    Wonderful story. But after reading the book, I doubt I would have opened the door.

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    • I don’t know why I did. I didn’t know why I did it then, and 44 years later, I still don’t know.

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  3. Yikes!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Deb

    I had a moment- gasp – after you said you let him in, but since I have to believe that you are very much alive based on the fact that you posted this, obviously things worked out. I am astounded that you opened the door to begin with, let alone allowed The Green Man inside.

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    • With the book in my hand, no less! I’m an idiot.

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      • Deb

        But how ironic had you needed to beat him about the head with that specific book πŸ˜‰

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        • I might have beat him in a much lower spot. It was a pretty heavy book for a paperback.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I like having our dog at times like that. She sounds like she’d rip someone apart but if push came to shove, I’m pretty sure she’d wimp out (but the repairmen don’t have to know that).

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    • I always did that with our dog when I was a kid. I’d say, “I don’t think I can hold him,” but I meant, “I don’t think I can hold him because he wants to go hide under the bed.”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hahaha! Fabulous!

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  7. Dana

    Sometimes the repair man is scared of me! I remember I wouldn’t let one guy leave, because he wouldn’t connect my new dryer to a plastic vent coil. I finally let him go, after he promised to go to the Home Depot and get a metal coil. πŸ™‚

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    • haahahah – something tells me he didn’t come back!

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      • Dana

        Come to think of it, they did send a different repair guy with the new coil!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Hilarious, Nancy. I. Would. Not. Have. Let. Him. In. Toolboxes can be p.r.o.p.s.
    I had a neighbor I babysat for. When someone knocked on her door she wanted to go away, she said her mother was sleeping’. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ She, the lady of the house, with a baby in the nursery. Ha. Ha. Ha.

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    • I had a guy try to pick me up in a hotel lobby. He was very insistent. I said, “Sure, let me go ask my father.” He left right away.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve done a few things way in the past that I’m surprised didn’t get me killed or worse. And I was a fairly goody two-shoes! Great story — I felt like ~I~ was the one letting him in!

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    • I like to think that if I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t open the door… but I probably would.

      Like

  10. I remember having my shoes reheeled or resoled. Got a shock when the cobbler wanted more than the cost of a new pair of shoes for the job!

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    • As kids we outgrew and destroyed our shoes too fast for repairs, but I remember taking my father’s shoes to the “shoe hospital.”

      Liked by 1 person

  11. And that’s precisely why I never read scary stories. They have a way of coming back to me in odd ways or at 3:00 a.m. Shiver.

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    • True crime is bad enough.. the nightmares I get if I even TRY to read any supernatural or eerie…..

      Like

  12. Geez. I don’t even open the door for the mailman.

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  13. I read them all the time, found them in my mothers hiding place along with other things I wasn’t supposed to read. I still read them.

    Great story!

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    • I snuck-read (you know what I mean) my older sister’s books!

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  14. Real “Twilight Zone” script material. Totally spooky – then that clever ending

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    • It is amusing now – but I was terrified. And I let the guy in anyway. Proof that young people are stupid.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Dale Duckworth

    Nancy, I cannot comment on this post because I am stupidly compulsive about reading bogs from the beginning. So today I realized that I absolutely must pee before I start reading cause otherwise I am laughing so hard that I almost have an oops! I am reading about naming your knees, ok I’m a little behind, but the picture of the knee with the little face just did it. I have been laughing so hard at lots of your posts that there are tears dripping off my chin. My husband knows what I am reading. It is either you or Janet evanovich, not allowed to read either in bed. Shakes too much with my trying to keep quiet laughing. Anyway sorry to be so long but OMG girl, you should do stand-up. Will catch up sooner or later!
    Dale, vermont

    Like

    • I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. My favorite thing in the world is making someone laugh!

      Like

  16. How can you not let a repairman in? I mean its impossible to get one to call out isn’t it? They’re gold dust ‘And while you’re here…’ Very funny, though. Love you left you sister as distraction bait; perfect sibling behaviour – the evolutionary power of inheritance – only the fittest will get the condo!

    Like

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