The Light In The Middle Window – Chapter Two

The light in the window didn’t hold his attention for long.  His mind was otherwise occupied.

When he went back into the house, he was struck by just how dark it was. There were lights but the bulbs had burned out and he didn’t have a ladder that would reach the high ceilings.

There was no urgency to get them fixed.  He had been known in the past as the man who never turned on a light and it would most likely be the same in this house.  Once you get to know your home, finding your way around in the dark made sense…at least to him and he had always been frugal.  “Turn on a light just long enough to see where you are going or get what you need and then turn it off,” he said.

Darkness had never been an enemy but this house…this house had no outside ambient light source.  No invasive streetlights shining through the windows nor were any neighbors’ lights visible, yet only once had he mistakenly entered into a bedroom, thinking it was the bathroom.

Most of his days were filled with the tedious task of unpacking bins and boxes and realizing that the movers had misplaced most of them.  Boxes clearly marked “bedroom” had been left in the kitchen and tools that were marked “garage” had somehow found their way upstairs.  There were moments of grieving the loss of a treasured piece that had been broken in the move but he sojourned on.

People started coming by to introduce themselves and all of them wanted the “grand tour.”  Most said they had driven by the house every day, and every day, they wished somebody would buy it and bring it back to its original glory.

With apologies for the disarray, he graciously allowed them to come inside and look around.  Several of them offered help with the unpacking and one woman eagerly offered her gardening skills.

He was familiar with the term “Southern hospitality,” but he had never experienced anything like this.  He took their numbers, thanked them and gave the obligatory “maybe I’ll give you a call.”

Night after night, he went outside after a long days work and sat on the stoop.  It was his quiet time, interrupted only by the train whistle or an occasional ambulance siren in the distance.  Every night, he momentarily turned his gaze toward the garage to look for the light in the window but it wasn’t always there.

He thought it could possibly be the reflection of a neighbors’ porch light although the juxtaposition of the garage prohibited that possibility.  A street light maybe?  That couldn’t be because the only street light was several houses down.  It didn’t matter.  His eyes had played tricks on him before and he was no spring chicken.

That rickety old fence needed to come down, so he called Daniel, the handyman who had stopped by when he first moved in.  They worked and talked and sipped ice tea and worked and talked and sipped ice tea until they got the old fence down.

There was a sadness when he looked at where it had once proudly stood. It had been part of this grand lady but it couldn’t be saved and when they pulled it up, it left a gaping wound in the ground.

He had always believed that when you abandoned or destroyed a part of your past, it left a permanent scar.  Would she weep over the loss?  Would it be, to her, like losing a piece of herself?

He helped Daniel load the broken pieces of the fence onto his trailer and then watched as he slowly drove down the street to the local dump.  It wasn’t a proper burial but it was the way things were done now.

Having put in a days’ work, it was time for his nightly ritual of sitting on the stoop.  As he glanced toward the garage, once again, he saw the light in the middle window.  As he stared, he almost chuckled when he thought “that looks like a small child.”  Shaking his head and still smiling, he went back inside, trying to reassure himself that he wasn’t insane.

The next morning, he was breaking down boxes for the trash when he noticed a truck coming up the driveway.  A jovial man jumped out, handed him his card and introduced himself as Mel.  “I used to maintain the air conditioning in this house,” he said.

That was a good thing to know and he seemed to be as nice as the other people he had met.  After being offered the house wine of the South, ice tea, he sat down and said “I see you tore down that old fence.  That’s good.  It needed to be tore down.  Who did it for you?”

“Daniel,” he said.  Mel said “oh yeah.  I know Daniel.  He’s a good ole boy.” When asked who was painting the house, the response was the same.  “Oh, yeah.  I know him.  He’s a good ole boy.”  Mel had a way about him. Everybody was a “good ole boy” and he knew everybody in town.  He said he had once thought about buying the grand lady but was going through a nasty divorce and decided it wouldn’t be a very good idea.

They sat and talked and after Mel finished his glass of ice tea, he was almost indifferent when he said “did you know that this house used to be a Funeral Parlor?”

 

 

To be continued________________________

 

 

 

 

The Light In The Middle Window – Chapter One

For as long as he could remember, his greatest wish was to own a mansion.  The kind of mansion you only dream or read about in famous novels…and his wish was finally coming true.

The first time he saw what would later be called his “Manor,” he knew it was the house for him.  It needed to be painted outside and there was a rickety fence that seemed to have no purpose other than being an eyesore but he wasn’t deterred.

Finding a place to house his car, although difficult with most grand older homes was a must, so he was thrilled when the house boasted a three car garage.  He knew the garage wasn’t built when the house was but it had clearly been there for several years.  Above the garage, was what could be easily turned into a studio apartment but he had no plans for such a venture.

A little building sat between the house and the garage.  The curious little building seemed determined to keep a secret, as he couldn’t get the door to yield to his many attempts to get it open.  A crowbar came to the rescue and when he opened the door he stood in silence as he stared at a ten foot tall, genuine TROY walk-in icebox.  There were shelves and hooks and he wondered, “is this were the cook prepared the food?”

Thinking it would be a nice conversation piece if moved inside, he was dismayed when he realized that the little house had been built around the icebox and therefore, it couldn’t be moved.

The first time he went into the grand manor, to say that he was overwhelmed would have been an understatement.

Built in 1898, and sitting on a little more than an acre of land, no expense was spared in that grand house.  The hand carved balustrades were just one example of the builders’ attention to detail, as were the beaded ceilings with fixtures hanging from medallions and crown molding that trimmed the walls that reached a full twelve feet.

Stained glass windows graced the side of the grand staircase that made twists and turns and he smiled as he imagined children of the past, sliding down the banisters to the dismay of their nannies.

Most of the original light fixtures in the bedrooms had been replaced with ceiling fans but he was already thinking “crystal chandeliers.”  The windows, which flanked the fireplaces, were every bit of four feet taller than he stood.

Makeshift closets had been built at the end of hallways.  In those days, closets were considered extra rooms and were therefore, taxed.  Hence, the invention and use of armoires.  He had two antique armoires that fit perfectly in this grand lady and they looked as if they had always been there.

The original tongue and groove hardwood floors showed no signs of creaking as he walked across them and the ten foot pocket doors separating the front room from the dining room, seemed to wail with pain as he coaxed them open for what he imagined was the first time in many years.

The “front room” as he had heard his granny call what in modern times would be the living room, had dark baseboards and window and door casings.

He had never liked dark wood.  He found it depressing.  Dark furniture that had aged with time like fine vintage wine, smelled like old furniture and old people didn’t bother him, but the trim did.  The front room and the dining room were the only rooms that hadn’t been taken into the present with a fresh coat of white paint but he would soon remedy that.

Every room had a fireplace with delicately placed tiles that ranged in color from mint green to pale pink.  The mantles that encased them were exquisite and each one was different.  He wondered how many stockings in the past, had hung from any or all of those mantles.

He had been told by a handyman who stopped by to offer any help he might need, that the original owners had been one of the first signers of the papers to secede from the Union.  Aside from that bit of information, he knew nothing about the history of the house.

After settling in somewhat, he started exploring the back yard.  He discovered an old well and a twenty-foot chimney with a brick wall that had been almost completely obscured by weeds and vines and seemed to have at one time been the foundation for another small building.  What could that building have been?

There were several mature Pecan and Mimosa trees and off to the side, stood a lone Dogwood, that seemed to still be mourning the curse of God.

A fire pit sat at the end of a covered walkway, where he imagined Southern ladies had fanned themselves while sipping Mint Juleps and waiting for a freshly slaughtered hog to be prepared.

He had become accustomed to the long, lonesome lamentations of a train that ran all day and all night.  Had that train, in sometime past, provided travel for those same Southern ladies?

Late at night, he would go outside and sit on the stoop to just listen to the train and other sounds of the night.  On the third night, he happened to glance toward the garage and noticed a light in the middle window.

 

To be continued___________________________