The picture had been drawn on a piece of cardboard and as I looked at it, I was simultaneously in awe of the details and also troubled by them. The artistry was superb and the shading made the picture seem lifelike and appear almost ready to jump off the paper.
If she had drawn it, I wondered what she was thinking. It was dark and even more haunting than the painting I found and named “The Mysterious Blue Forest.”
It was a picture of a strikingly beautiful man. He was sitting on top of a rock, looking over what seemed to be a kingdom. I thought for a moment that he must be an angel as he had wings attached to his back but they were not made of feathers. They looked much like the wings of a bat and had a claw-like barb on the top.
His face was expressionless but somehow, whether imagined or not, I thought I detected an evil look in his eyes. When I saw the horns on his head, I thought he must be the artists’ rendition of what the devil looked like.
Could it have been Lucifer? In Sunday school, I learned that Lucifer’s beauty and intelligence was beyond compare but he became guilty of self-generated pride and was cast out of Heaven. If this was a picture of him, then in my eyes she had without question, captured that beguiling beauty.
As disturbing as I found it, I must admit that I was absolutely captivated by the exquisiteness of this man. I considered bringing it downstairs but decided to wait. I just wasn’t sure yet, but I was sure of one thing. I wouldn’t destroy it, so I returned it to the box.
I realized that I had been so enthralled, that I forgot to look for a date or a signature. The bottom right corner was badly bent and part of it had been torn away but I could see what I thought looked like 1968.
A quick search of my memory did the calculation. In 1964, she wrote God and told Him that she hated Him. In 1968, if that is the real date, she is drawing a picture of the devil. What happened during those four years?
Later that night, I began reading the notes. The first one I read was so cute. It said “Dear God. If you are real, please leave me a dollar so I can buy a hamster.” Dated 1959. Even though I knew that wasn’t how God worked, I was really hoping I would find a thank you note.
Putting the notes I had already read in chronological order, I wanted to see if I could figure out when her faith started to wane. I wanted to play detective but I also wanted somewhat of a mystery to remain, if that makes any sense. As much of a temptation as it was, I decided to only read one note a day and I wasn’t even sure that I had yet found them all.
I hadn’t met any of my neighbors. I had been too busy restoring my house and of course, being a scavenger. One day I was walking to the mailbox and met the girl who lived next door. She was what my parents’ generation would have most likely called a hippie. She had full sleeve tattoos and long, purplish-black hair. She introduced herself as “Dawn Rising,” and I was trying not to laugh as I introduced myself. She walked back to the house with me and invited herself in.
“Have you cleansed your house with sage?” she asked. I told her that I didn’t know what she meant and she said “I’m a seer of sorts. Would you like for me to read your house?”
What was I going to say? “Um, no thanks. I don’t believe in that sort of thing?” I told her it would be fine.
She walked around, and looked as if she was in some kind of trance. She even asked to go into the attic. “What a strange person,” I thought. For all I knew she could have been a serial killer but I allowed her to visit every room, even the attic.
She came downstairs and asked if she could have a glass of water. “Of course,” I said, still a little perplexed by her boldness.
She took a sip and said “this house has seen much hatred and great sorrow.”
I was stupefied. What did she mean? She said “your house needs to be cleansed. I can do that for you, if you want.”
I was thinking “okay, here we go. The pitch for money. She’s some scam artist who makes a living off of scaring people.”
When I politely declined, I wondered if she really was a “seer of sorts” when she said “my services are free so this is not about money. It’s about getting rid of residual pain and agony.”
I asked her how long she had lived next door. She said “only a few years.” Then I asked if there were any original neighbors that I could talk to. She smiled and said “yes, one. Miss Mabel Cartwright. She lives behind you and I’m told that she was actually born in that house.”
She smiled and said “thank you for the water and let me know when you would like the cleansing.” I was more interested in talking to Miss Cartwright but I thanked her and told her that I would certainly think about it.
It was late in the day but I decided to go knock on Miss Cartwrights’ door. From inside, I heard a voice say “I don’t open the door after 5 o’clock. Come back tomorrow.”
To be continued_______________________