Friday, March 10, 2006

40 Days of Lent - Day Ten

Devil Doll!

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.

7 comments:

Carol said...

How about "no good comes of consorting with the devil's playthings"? That sounds nice and Lenten.


BTW, I saw this lurid History Channel special on some of the gnostic and other biblical books that didn't make it into the official version. Of course it had a title like "Banned from the Bible!!". It was fascinating, especially the books that discussed Jesus' childhood in some detail. For example, He had quite a temper when he was a young 'un, striking people blind who were mean to Joseph, etc.

the hanged man said...

"The Gnostic Gospels" by Elaine Pagels is fascinating reading, but it is more of a scholarly text than a "Banned from the Bible!" potboiler.

Jesus losing His temper and striking people blind is a great story. Well, not for the blind person of course.

Miss Stambaugh said...

I think I forgot to mention this to you, and talk of the gnostic gospels and things not included in the bible reminded me...

In one of the recent New Yorkers (hopefully one you grabbed last weekend) there was an article:

THE SAINTLY SINNER
The two-thousand-year obsession with Mary Magdalene.
by Joan Acocella

Unfortunately it can't be found online or I'd include a link for all to enjoy. It's a really fascinating article and also reviews some books written on the subject.

Miss Stambaugh said...

Well here it is:

http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060213fa_fact2

Only without the printed art.

Miss Stambaugh said...

Stupid blogger comment box thing - looks like it cut off the link for some reason.

Just go to the New Yorker site and search for the damn article on your own.

Anonymous said...

oh, s. philly....my story is when our neighbor across the street from her 2nd floor window poured a bucket of water on the people sitting below on the sidewalk because they were talking too loud!

colette

the hanged man said...

Colette! You're still here! Great! How are you?

I have to say, there have been times when I've been tempted to pour water on people for being too loud. I'm looking forward to the day that my iPod completely destroys my hearing and I won't have to worry about such things anymore.

Stacey - thanks. The article on Mary Magdalene was in the New Yorker you gave me. I was planning on reading the article and posting my thoughts, but since it's online and people can read it for themseelves, perhaps there will only be 39 days of lent on this blog...