Fifteen years ago, I lived in the Italian market district in downtown Philadelphia. My apartment was on a side street. Our building was one of the few rentals -- most of our neighbors had lived on the block for a number of years. This familiarity lead to old ladies sitting on the sidewalk in folding chairs on summer evenings, watching and chatting about everyone who walked by. It also lead to feuds with origins so long ago that the initial cause was forgotten but the anger remained.
One Sunday morning I heard a ruckus outside. I went to the window and was surprised to see the police talking to my neighbors and the couple across the street. Appearantly, my next door neighbors had found on their doorstep a little devil doll...with a steakknife sticking through it. When the police were summoned, their immediate suspect was my downstairs neighbor, Jody. Jody was the Zen Artist and resident freak on the block. He also invented the "new wave" haircut, but that's another story. Although one rarely dealt with Jody without entertaining thoughts of strangulation, the look of fear on his face when he suspected he was in trouble with unsympathetic Philly police for something he didn't do won him much sympathy.
"Not him" the neighbors intervened. "They did it," pointing to the house across the street. The couple across the street admitted to it, and went into a litany of grievances against my neighbors, finishing with "Look at this threatening letter you wrote us!" (I think the letter contained a threat to burn down their house, but I can't be sure).
"I didn't write that!" my neighbor yelled.
"Yes you did - you signed it!" Which indeed they had.
Oh Philadelphia. I'm not sure what today's lesson is. Perhaps if you want to threaten someone with a felony anonymously, don't sign the letter. Or, if you really want to freak someone out, leave an impaled devil doll on their doorstep.
I'm not sure if the people across the street ever got their steakknife back.