Thursday, October 6, 2011


To Marcus Pembilton
C.O. The Edmonton Institution
21611, Meridian Street
PO Box 2290
Edmonton, Alberta
T5J 3H7

Dear Marcus:

In the eighteen months since you moved from our fine neighborhood, I’ve agonized over whether or not to write you. I know you didn’t leave us on the best of terms and that, due to the unusual circumstance of your departure, you’ve likely had more important things on your mind than the old Neighborhood Association, but after thinking and praying on the question, I’ve finally decided to sit down and attempt to put my feelings about the incident on paper, to explain them to myself as much as to you.

First of all, I’d like you to know that in the weeks immediately following your arrest, the whole Association came to your defense. When the news media arrived I was on camera that very night explaining that you’d always been a quiet, polite person, the sort that keeps to himself. I don’t know if you saw the footage, but it was picked up by CNN and broadcast internationally. I’ll tell you, I didn’t expect THAT kind of celebrity when I allowed myself to be interviewed, though I do admit I found it kind of flattering. When it aired, I called all my friends to tell them to tune in!

Your trial was equally well covered by the news, and it seemed for a while that it was the only thing happening in the world, to hear reporters talk about it. Did they let you watch news networks while it was happening? If not, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you were NOT portrayed in a positive light. I suppose, in light of the discoveries made when they dug up your yard, this shouldn’t have come as a surprise. But I admit, the lengths reporters went to try and make you look like some sort of monster verged on ludicrous to anyone who knew you the way we did.

I mean, come on! Admittedly the footage from your basement made my stomach turn the first time I saw it (especially when I remembered my Donald loaning you his tools so you could remodel it three years ago!) but that was just one side of you. One small part of your life the media chose to fixate on, it hardly seems fair. They never mentioned, to name just one example, how delicious the brownies you brought to the school bake sale were, or how you brought them without fail every year even though you had no children of your own in the school system to benefit from their sale. Were they interested in that sort of thing? Of course not, all the media’s interested in nowadays is sensationalism, it seems. It’s all in the name of ratings.

By the way, those brownies were sorely missed at this year’s sale. I was the only one who was willing to say it out loud, but you could tell everyone was thinking it.

Another reason your absence is so acutely felt is the state of disrepair your former home has fallen into. It honestly is shocking how the police left the place, you’d be scandalized if you saw it, and rightly so. The bank’s since took it over, of course, and they haven’t had luck to date finding an interested buyer, but that’s no excuse for their not filling the holes in your yard back in, or their shameful neglect of your rose garden. It’s as though they weren’t even TRYING to keep the place up, like they’d just written the place off as a loss rather than attempting to put it back into a presentable shape!

It’s disrespectful to the neighborhood, is what It is, and I’ll let you know I’ve written several pointed missives to the bank to that effect. No response as of yet, but if they think I’ll be put off so easily they don’t know me at all! One thing is certain, none of this would ever have been an issue if you were still living there, the pains you went to to keep your home beautiful are another reason that, bloodstained sewer grate in your basement or not, I respected you so well.

In fact, I think it could be safely said that your presence is dearly missed, back here in Silver Springs. I mean obviously your crimes were horrific, assuming you actually did the terrible things they accused you of, but still. If you were guilty, you always kept that side of yourself out of the neighborhood, and within our community you were the perfect neighbor, a fact we all appreciate. I suppose I’m getting a little rambling with this note, but I’m really not sure what to say in a letter like this, obviously I’ve never known anyone in your particular situation before. I hope I haven’t said anything unintentionally to put you out. I’m sure I haven’t. I’m not even sure why I wrote you, I’m sure you’re very busy in your new situation and don’t have time for people you knew in what by now must seem like a previous life.

I guess I just wanted to write to say that, although the world looks at you and sees only the seventeen corpses found in and buried behind your home, to me you’ll always be the quiet, polite neighbor who generally kept to himself but always had a ready smile when he saw me in the street. You were a real asset to the neighborhood, Marcus, don’t you ever think otherwise. And we’re all better off for having known you, though it’s grown unfashionable to admit it. And for this I thank you, even if no one else will.

I hope this letter finds you well and that you’re keeping in good spirits, to whatever degree you can during your incarceration.

Sincerely yours

Amanda Henderson
The Silver Springs Neighborhood Association
320 Slivergrove Bay, NW
Calgary, Alberta

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