ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Monday, 23 November 2015

A real-life #horror story. The Case of the Missing Heir. Where there isn't a will, there's no way.

Well, okay, there were a lot of Halloween/Supernatural/Horror writing challenges doing the rounds during October, and I've enjoyed reading the little shops of horror flashes, sometimes based on true stories, that were submitted to WEP for our Halloween challenge.

Now sitting down to read the Sunday papers recently, I came across this shocker, and the sad part is that it is quite a common occurrence, not just in Australia, but worldwide. Who'd want to end up like this? Here's Henry's story...

William Henry Florence died a lonely death. But he was not alone--he was surrounded by pile upon pile of murder mysteries.

Known locally just as Henry, he lived as a recluse in his rundown inner-city Brisbane home. Now just looking at the home, it's a wonder alarm bells didn't ring. Brisbane is a self-conscious city, squeaky-clean city, and the council is likely to pounce on you for not keeping your garden tidy, your exterior presentation up to scratch, or any unsightly rubbish lurking in your front yard is a no no (so smart citizens dump it out front for said council to collect.)


So Henry's house was highset, quite visible from the street in quite a ritzy suburb, yet the exterior was almost completely covered by vines and the trims looked rather the worse for wear. Life trundled on outside this abandoned-looking home, while the 94 year old's entombed body lay undiscovered for seven weeks. Ironically found by an 'honest' burglar who called his find into the police, Henry was found inside where every room of the home was crammed with floor-to-ceiling novels. He was a fan!


A sketch of Henry
Henry died of natural causes. Had no will. So he's sparked his own posthumous true-life mystery called: The Case of the Missing Heir. His considerable estate remains unclaimed. His fortune stays buried.

Now as that abandoned Paris apartment turned up in several recent novels, I'm seeing novel potential in poor Henry's case. But was he 'poor' Henry? Certainly not in financial terms. Perhaps in the fact that no one missed him. But chances are, he was probably living his perfect life, surrounded by what he loved...books! I can raise my glass to Henry for that!

So, abandoned houses are rich fodder for ghost stories. When we come across a real-life house such as Henry's, it's just not so scary or thrilling...as just plain sad.

FOOTNOTE: There is AUS $21,000,000 (USD$15+) in deceased estates up for grabs just in Queensland.

How about you? Do you get distressed by stories like this? Do you know of a similar one? Share with us.




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25 comments:

  1. I love Henry's story and it's probably how I'll end too, but without the money, of course. I'm sure an heir will show up soon, whether real or a scam. Surrounded by books is the way to go - although my husband says otherwise. :)

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    1. Yes, Yolanda, that's what I took from it. Surrounded by books sounds like heaven to me! Go Henry!

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  2. I read a book based on a similar event in New York City. Two brothers, one who became disabled due to blindness, and one who suffered a bit after the 2nd WW. The brother who was the veteran was covered over by some of his collectible hoard falling on him, and his brother who was blind had no way of finding him, and eventually died as well, since he was surrounded by the hoards of things his brother had collected and no one to care for him as his brother had.
    The city had disconnected all their utilities for non-payment before someone eventually went and checked. Sad, indeed. There was no other family, yet they were not without funds.

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    1. I think I saw a post about this a few years ago. Or maybe something similar. That is so sad that they disconnected the utilities but didn't check before it was too late. How sad. :-(

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  3. Hi Denise - fascinating story ... but so sad. I guess if someone had connected with mystery stories to tell Henry would have been happy. We have people here who have died and are after a time found ... it is desperately sad - but I expect they were teased and thus became cantankerous so blended into the landscape as such - forgotten to the minds of locals.

    Interesting about the money - we have firms here who chase the inheritances and find the heirs for a percentage .. I expect you do too ...

    But a sad tale for Thanksgiving week ... Hilary

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    1. I always get distressed when I read stories like Henry's, but I hope those books were good company.

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  4. Sad that no one missed him though. Someone should've been checking on him every week.

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    1. Yes, in a perfect world of course they should! O Henry!

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  5. While it is distressing that no one missed him it is fascinating to think about what his life was really like before he became a recluse. And to have all those books? Did he choose a life of books over a life of friends and family? Was he abandoned? Was he disowned? Hmmm, you're right: there is a LOT of story fodder here!
    Cheers,
    Jen

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    1. Yes, if i had enough space left to follow another storyline I'd be into Henry's story.

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  6. Poor guy. I can be reclusive, but I get cabin fever after a while. When I'm reading true crime novels, though, and they talk about realizing someone was missing when she didn't show up for work, I do get a little freaked out! Luckily my husband works from home, too, and he doesn't travel very often.

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    1. Yes, it's amazing how Henry could be so reclusive in such a busy neighbourhood.

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  7. That's how I plan to go, reading a good book. Just not a recluse. I don;t want to die and have no one notice for nine weeks. Hope he didn;t have cats. They get hungry fast.

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    1. You'd never be lonely if you were surrounded by great books. That's why I collect so many!

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  8. It is sad that nobody seemed to miss old Henry. I do wonder what the story is.

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    1. I guess he wouldn't be the first oldie to be forgotten by his family. Sadly...

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  9. It's hard to know how to feel. He may have been a very happy hermit.

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  10. Just hope he finished what he was reading, and his TBR wasn't too long when he went. Not the worst death I can think of, being buried in books. Whatever happens after, he's gone home happy.

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  11. What an intriguing mystery.
    Looks like he had quite a stash of books, I wonder if he had time to read them all.

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  12. It's horrible to imagine no one missing you or noticing that you've disappeared. Kudos to the "honest" burglar who called in the report.

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  13. Poor Henry, but I would love a chance to go through all his books. He probably died a happy man.

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