Unnoticed and uninvited, the Thief took up residence in my father’s attic. He had infiltrated with such stealth, for years no one suspected he was there. At first,the trickster stole only little things, picked them up, moved them about. My father would search for something in one place and it would be found in another. These misplaced items were easy to ignore.
“Oh it’s not important, it’ll turn up somewhere”, he would say and sure enough, a few days later, there it was. But then it would be lost again.
But the swindler grew more daring and my father became increasingly concerned as more of his riches began to disappear and so we suggested that he consult an expert in this type of criminal activity.
“Ah yes!” said the specialist. “There is definitely a burglar in your house. I would say that he’s been there for quite some time now.”
“What can be done for it?” my father inquired.
“We can try barring the doors and windows.”
“Will that keep the bugger out?”
“No, no.” said the specialist,“The rascal is already in your loft, there’s nothing we can do about that. I’m afraid you’re going to have to live with him for now.”
“Ach! Then what bloody good will the bars do?” asked my father with much irritation.
The expert responded wryly “It will slow him down as he removes your possessions.”
My father and I agreed this was not a very satisfying answer at all.
The barriers were installed and for a time, my father’s assets seemed more secure. But after a while the thief learned how to get around the obstacles that had been set up against him and once again my father’s articles began to vanish. In a few short years he had lost most all he had acquired throughout his lifetime, his place so bare it was unrecognizable. As a last resort, my father moved into a new home but to his surprise he found that the scoundrel had preceded him, and furthermore, many of the other people who lived there had also been robbed of their holdings.
The nefarious villain pursued my father now with relentless fervor, stealing from him with increasing frequency and boldness. With cruel audacity he began replacing my father’s dearest possessions with items completely unfamiliar to him. “Whose picture is that?”my father would say, or “where did this come from?”
Eventually, the vile miscreant had stolen every last thing of value and with the balance of his life depleted, my father teetered, fell and broke his hip. Several days later in his single act of kindness, the Thief crept into the hospital room and stole away his suffering.
The thief has been glimpsed but twice since my father’s death. As the last of the old man’s things were being boxed for charity, the culprit was spied skulking room to room, filling his gunny sack with the meager fortunes of those already harshly dispossessed. He was seen again at the memorial service where he was recognized as the architect of my father’s long farewell. Despite having stolen so much from so many, his appetite for plunder was insatiate and as he scrutinized the solemn gathering for any future acquisition, our eyes met and I turned quickly away.