“You ought to be taken out to the back forty and stump broke,” reads the message from a guy calling himself “Bronco.”*
The discussion was about a resort that went bankrupt, leaving hundreds of millions in debts. It wasn’t my fault – I just published information about it. Of course, it’s not the kind of information that the developers want the public to see.
Stump broke. I look it up. It means to tie an animal to a stump and rape it.
Turns out Stinger knows him by his business name. Bronco Excavating.* I find the number, a rural address in Saanich. I got a recording – a middle-aged woman’s voice, a cell phone number. The same woman answers the cell phone.
“I’m trying to reach Don Kringsborn*, please,” I say
“Who is this?”
“Zoe Blunt. I’m calling for Don Kringsborn, if he’s available.” I’m very polite.
“Where are you calling from? What do you want?” She’s knows my name and she’s upset.
I’ve blocked my number. “I’m calling from my home. Is it possible to speak to Don?”
“Not unless you give me more information!”
“How about if you give him a message. I need to know if I have the correct definition of ‘stump broke.'”
“Stump broke? Stump broke?” Her voice rises.
“Yes, I’m looking for the definition of ‘stump broke.'” I repeat.
“We’re not even in the country right now!” the woman exclaims, apropos of nothing.
“Tell him he can reach me on my cell phone. Thank you.” I hang up.
I find the postcard, a colour photo of an unfinished construction project that the resort was building until it ran out of money. “Greetings from Langford Bridge to Nowhere!” the card reads. I address it to Don Kringsborn at his Saanich address and inscribe it: “To my biggest fan! Love, Zoe.”
*Names and pseudonyms have been changed.