Out of plumb…

Avalina Kreska
5 min readNov 22, 2021

A few decades ago, I was a full time guitar teacher, working in two local junior schools and private tuition for adults and children in their homes. I was contacted by a man requiring guitar lessons and we agreed for him to have the lessons at my house.

He was loud and overly confident about everything; a bit of a boaster (I viewed it as over compensating) and didn’t respond well to being taught, complaining that his ability to play should have matched mine after only two lessons! I persevered, understanding that ‘ego issues’ are a common problem for adults. Due to a plumbing accident at work, the ring finger on his left hand was crooked making it difficult to manage certain stretches on the frets.

I gave him a solution around the problem but he still continually complained. I could put up with the complaining but I couldn’t shake off a depressive negativity that surrounded him; I didn’t feel entirely safe in his presence and made sure my husband was home at future lessons.

One week I taught him at his house and met his partner who seemed very nervous; I would go so far as to say she looked petrified; it didn’t feel appropriate to ask why. He showed me into a side room and we started the lesson as usual, only for him to pause, explaining what had happened to him that week. Apparently he had been in court and had won a case of being wrongly accused of sexually abusing children. He seemed desperate that I should believe him, boasting again, saying the pay-out for being wrongly accused would amount to thousands in damages and that he would be receiving that money very soon. It was an awkward situation for me but I listened and then we continued the lesson. However, he appeared markedly more nervous than usual and kept repeating that he was sorry to burden me with his story. It felt more like a confession, and to be honest, his story didn’t ring true. Toward the end of the lesson he wasn’t really listening to my instruction, exhibiting a nervous aggression, a kind of irrational irritation. His partner looked positively scared when I said goodbye and I felt worried for her, but still, there was nothing I could do.

His behaviour reminded me of the American serial killer and sex offender: John Wayne Gacy. Gacy exhibited similar behaviour such as being overly confident and cocky, yet when pushed in the final investigation that would finally lead to his arrest, he would become exponentially ‘unhinged’.

The more I thought about my student’s ‘confession’, the more I felt uncomfortable. I decided not to go to his house to teach him again, I made some excuse of not having enough time, and he (maybe feeling guilty) gave some excuse for not being able to attend the next two lessons which suited me fine.

A couple of weeks later, at school, I was in a guitar lesson with a child (one to one) and he asked if he could use the toilet to which I agreed. He seemed to be a very long time and I went to check on him. I called his name from outside the toilet block (for privacy sake) but upon receiving no reply, I put my head around the door and noticed a man’s hand gripping a door-frame. I recognised that hand! I’d know that crooked ring finger anywhere! I quickly withdrew, in a kind of mini panic, thoughts escalating, then my student appeared and we walked back to class. I asked if everything had been OK as he’d taken a while, he confirmed it was and I wasn’t about to ask any further probing questions!

However, considering the plumber’s earlier tale and the fact that he was in the children’s toilet block, it all rang warning bells for me. I went home at lunch and discussed it with my husband and we both agreed I should discuss it with the school. I spoke to the secretary who thought I’d done the right thing, after all, what could it hurt? But I felt guilty, I could be causing trouble for someone who is innocent but she assured me that it would all be confidential and that the head teacher would be in touch.

A little time passed and the school secretary grabbed me as I was passing the office and told me that the head teacher had made a case to the local authority who’d looked into the issue. They had asked the company who employed the plumber about any outstanding or pending convictions or court cases for child molestation for any of their employees who worked at the school, and if there were, could they tell the local authority so they could look into the issue of contractors working around children. The secretary told me that after the request was sent out, the plumber in question immediately left the company! She thought it confirmed my concern, otherwise, why would he have left?

I was later called into the office to speak with the head teacher who told me that because of the outcome, the local authority had made a new ruling for the whole county, that all outside contractors who work in schools should now have background checks. I was surprised that this wasn’t already in operation and she agreed with me. She thanked me for coming forward and added: If the man was innocent, why did he leave the company so swiftly? His behaviour was certainly suspicious in the least!

I was relieved but my worries didn’t stop there. The plumber knew I worked at the local school — what if he put two and two together? Every time I left school, I would look for his car, all sorts of scenarios playing out; all of them horrible.

He wrote to me a week later saying he wouldn’t have time for future lessons as he’d decided to start his own plumbing company. He reminded me that he was expecting ‘thousands’ for being wrongfully accused of child molestation. He reiterated how rich he’d be after the courts ‘pay up’. And anyway, it hurt his wonky finger when stretching and he couldn’t see it getting any easier…

During my time as a female guitar teacher, men that I taught would often reveal secrets or ‘confessions’ — I don’t know why, but thankfully none of them were as sinister as ‘The Plumber’.

Pictures: Pixabay.com