I may or may not have mentioned that my grandma passed away last fall. Her house has been sitting empty since the estate auction. It is currently listed with a real estate agent, and has a sign in the front yard. The #1 son is in charge of mowing the yard every other week.
Last October, my aunt caught a carload of men in the circle drive behind the house. She pulled up the long driveway and asked why they were there. At that time, the house was not for sale. The men said they were looking for a house to rent. My aunt told them in no uncertain terms that they needed to move along, that the house belonged to her mother-in-law, and was definitely not for rent, and what made them think it was, anyway? They stammered a bit about housing being hard to find in this area, and said, "Isn't this NotThisTown?" My aunt informed them that the town they were looking for was ten miles south. They got back into the car and left. My aunt called the police to come check out the house. The police found no signs of attempted entry, and said they would keep an eye on the comings and goings.
Today, on the way to my mom's house, I saw a silver car and truck in Grandma's driveway. Two days ago, my mom said she had seen a silver Expedition in the driveway. She wondered if my uncle was here from out-of-state, checking on the place.
On the way back home, I saw a white-haired old woman who looked like Colleen Dewhurst gone to seed, a gray-haired fifty-something woman, and a twenty-something man loitering around Grandma's front yard. I slowed and stared at them. They looked back at me. I called Enforcer H, who was no help, not intending to come to town and check it out. I backtracked to my aunt's yard, about a half-mile from Grandma's, to warn the #1 son that people were there, and he was not to mention that the house was sitting empty when he went to mow the yard.
Passing back by Grandma's, I saw that Man was now out back walking on the old railroad bed, and that Colleen and Fitty were sitting their plump, shorts-clad rumps on the stone picnic table in the back yard. There was now a silver car and a maroon Suburban blocking the circle drive. I pulled in. I tossed an envelope and pencil to The Pony, and told him to write down the license numbers. I pulled halfway around the circle drive, and put down T-Hoe's window.
"Are you all waiting for somebody?"
Colleen shook her white, unkempt mane. "No, no. Not at all."
"I passed by, and I'm wondering why you are here."
"Oh. We looked at the house." She made no move to leave. Man had now joined them at the picnic table.
"Well, my son is coming by to mow in a few minutes. I was just checking to see why somebody was in the yard."
"Are you the owner?"
"Yes. There shouldn't really be anybody up in here. That's why I'm checking." I did not feel the least bit guilty in this little lie. One-sixth of that house is mine.
By then, The Pony had gathered his information. I awkwardly backed my way off the circle drive to turn around. I made my way to the police station, about a half-mile the other direction. Of course nobody was there. They have business hours. 8:00 to 4:00 on weekdays. They did, however, have the dispatcher's number taped to the door. I tried to call my aunt for advice, but she didn't pick up her cell. I knew she wasn't home, because #1 had just been there mowing her yard. I called the dispatcher and asked for an officer to check out Grandma's house, because people had been there for 45 minutes with no sign of a real estate representative, and had not given me a good reason for squatting there.
Ten minutes later, the investigating officer called to report that nobody was there. Which was my wish all along. I thanked her, and said that anytime I saw somebody there, I was calling for an officer to investigate. She agreed that the story the squatters had given me sounded fishy. Another officer pulled into the police station lot, and asked if I was OK. I told him that I had just called about checking out a trespasser, and gave him the license numbers.
Did I do the right thing? I would like to think so. Any real estate agent that I've ever dealt with did not leave me at the property unattended. Landlord H and I have stopped to look at properties, but that takes five minutes of walking around the house, not plopping down on the picnic table partially obscured from street view. Who knows how long they had been there before I passed by the first time?
Every week the local paper has stories of two or three meth lab explosions. We even had a traveling meth lab abandoned on our gravel road a couple years ago. This IS Missouri, you know. It would be so easy for people to get up in there behind Grandma's house, and break into the garage/barn to do their business. Or maybe they could be dispensing drugs from the picnic table. Who knows. That's five different cars that have been up in there with no good explanation.
I call shenanigans.
My aunt called back. She was on her way home, and pulled into Grandma's driveway to check it out. She said everything looked all right, and paid #1 for her mow job, he having just arrived. We agreed that anytime somebody is there, we are calling for back-up.
Perhaps we should not be so bold as to confront these people ourselves.