To the family of Mr. Wilbur Popbottom,
My name is Arthur Sleevington and I am the Sheriff of Charleston, West Virginia. I am writing to inform you of the where-abouts of one Wilbur Popbottom and it may come as quite a shock to you so please, before you read on, have a seat. If you are already seated, you may like to lie down, but I understand if this is a bit excessive.
We’ve burned Mr. Popbottom at the stake. It seemed the only correct punishment for such a heinous, heinous crime.
You see, in the words of Mr. Popbottom, he felt that it would be some pumpkins to sneak into the houses of innocent townsfolk and stab them repeatedly while they sleep. He did this on 9 separate occasions, and after the ninth instance we found him in a nearby barn, passed out next to a blood-drenched knife and a small cage containing a field mouse. We carried Wilbur to the jail, locked him in shackles and force-fed him bread until he had the energy to speak. We believe that he went mad due to malnutrition, judging by the deep, dark circles under his eyes and his extreme frailty.
Wilbur, on the other hand, told me a very different story. During his questioning, he informed me that the mouse that was accompanying him politely requested that he stab the next person he meets. I assume the rodent asked this for enjoyment’s-sake, which is all the more sickening. Wilbur later told us that as the days went on, the mouse, or Claudio is he insisted on calling it, began to get more pushy in its requests and at one point threatened to “not give him help with his shaft” if he did not kill somebody soon. He did not elaborate on what “shaft help” entails, but I fear it is something so horrifyingly perverse that I dare not write it.
And so, with the full admission of the murderer and town morale being quite low after a brutal winter (and the murders), the town board unanimously decided to burn Mr. Popbottom at the stake. For good measure we burned the mouse at a small stake. It was rather amusing, actually. We used a small pile of twigs and some twine to tie the mouse up. But I digress.
The local paper has dubbed the past few weeks “The Winter of Wilbur.” It is rather catchy, don’t you agree?
I would tell you that I’m sorry for your loss but, let’s be honest, I’m not. I’m actually quite relieved that no one is killing the people in my town anymore.
Arthur Sleevington, Sheriff of Charleston