The name, so perfect in so many ways, Wren: A plain brown bird with a bubbly little voice, zipping through low branches snatching insects, taking them back to her makeshift nest, filling it with spider egg sacs to hatch and kill the parasites that feed on the baby wrens. Little wrens will make their nests in old cans, boots or any found object that is big enough. If nothing can be found they will harass and pick on much larger birds, craftily dragging out the eggs and nestlings and even attacking and killing adult birds that stand in their way.
Physically, Wren was not plain and brown rather, china doll white with shortly cropped black hair. Well dressed in thrift shop clothes, meticulously chosen to present a retro-gothic style. It was amazing to watch her zip through the racks on “fill your bag for 2 dollars day” and find a complete wardrobe that gave her reason to call herself a Fashionista for under $20.
Wren could make a nest for herself anywhere. Give her a blanket, a pillow and tell her she can spend the night on your couch and she could create a cozy corner filled with thrift shop art. She was a master in the art of manipulation. Convincing unsuspecting and compassionate people to rescue her from increasingly dire situations.
I met Wren, as she was about to set off for the Blue Ridge Mountains to teach at a private school for girls. Not a word in two months and then a call that she needed to be rescued from a horrible situation. The school was a sadistic cult and after weeks of being starved and deprived she escaped. I was the only one she knew who could help her.
Settling in to my home, she told me stories of abuse, neglect and strange ceremonies in the woods involving knives and fire and animal sacrifice. Then she told me tales of all the abuse she encountered in her nomadic life. She was afraid to leave my house and managed to clean out my liquor cabinet whenever I did. When I did not replenish, that which she called her muse, she managed to walk into town and find men to buy her drinks at one or another of my town’s saloons. She would disappear for days and return with stories of her adventures learning the nature of small town life after hers growing up in New York City.
Then one day, in the middle of one of her adventure disappearances, I started to get calls from criminal defense attorneys looking for Ms. Wren. Then calls from people in states all across the northeast that had taken her in to build a nest on their couch. Some of these people were familiar to me as the ones who filled her stories of using and abusing her. In each case she accused the strangers who offered her a piece of kindness and a place to stay, of cruelty, rape, drug abuse, kidnapping, satanic rituals even robbing her and trying to steal her identity. She brought the spiders eggs into each of the nests she invaded and as they hatched she found herself out on the streets looking for a new one, an old can, a boot, anything would do.
Their stories were quite different. I was sent email copies of her arrest papers for either theft, assault, drunk and disorderly or fugitive flight. Another common thread came out, in all the stories I heard from those kind strangers. Many told the tale of unexplained illness or the death of a pet immediately after Ms. Wren’s stay. When she was on one of her drunken adventures and before I suffered a similar fate, I packed a couple of my suitcases with all of her belongings and the thrift shop goodies she acquired here and left them out on my sidewalk. Pinning a note to my door, after changing the locks, disinviting her from entering my home.
Two days later they were gone and so was she. My neighbors saw the car she came in and the elderly man who was driving it was known by most of them. He was a lonely old man who liked to spend his evenings bar hopping and apparently had a weakness for young ladies.
Then, I began to hear from friends who received letters from Wren telling them of my abuse of her. The story went that I brought her to my home, held her hostage in my basement with only a blanket and a pillow. I made her clean and cook for me, turned her into a slave maid and kitty litter cleaner and never offered her a penny for all of her work. One woman even told me that she was told that I tried to seduce her and make her my sex slave.
The cats and I are alive and healthy and she is gone. The elderly man did not fare so well. My neighbors told me that a week after she left town he went into a coma. His doctors could not determine its cause. Last week he died.
Early this morning the local sheriff rang my doorbell. “Is there a Ms. Wren living here?
I have a warrant for her arrest, she did not make a court appearance for a theft charge.”
“Come in Mr. Sheriff, I have a story to tell you,” I replied.