I don’t know what made me stop on the side of the road where an old, dilapidated house stood. Almost every day for three years, I drove past it. One day, breaking the rules by risking arrest for trespassing, I decided to take a peek inside.
It wasn’t a fine house, at least not a fine house as defined by Antebellum or Edwardian standards. It had been neglected and was almost covered with overgrown, climbing vines. The roof was sagging, the windows had been broken and it was a lonely and desperate sight. Sort of like a neglected old person you would see in a state funded nursing home.
Old things and old people have an appeal, at least to me. They have a certain smell, a certain character, a certain je ne sais quoi and they have stories…if you are willing to listen.
As I walked into the unlocked back door, I found myself standing in what was left of the kitchen. It still had a rickety old table and two chairs with broken rush seats, laying on their backs.
It bore the scars of having been ransacked and used as a shelter for homeless people seeking respite from the weather, or perhaps the neighborhood children sneaking off with their parents’ cigarettes and beer for a little youthful excitement.
Old, weather-worn plastic curtains still hung over the windows and the wide plank wooden floor, which at one time had been painted a bright yellow, had succumbed to the ravages of time and the elements.
A mock velvet-covered sofa sat in the living room, where the seats had provided a nest for rats to raise their young. The fireplace still held the long dead embers of a once flaming stack of logs and I thought I detected the faintest smell of pipe tobacco smoke lingering in the air.
The stairs creaked with pain as I walked up to the second floor. In one room sat, what at one time, would have been a marvelous brass bed. It was badly dented and tarnished, but was complete with the original rusty spring unit. At the foot of the bed, under a stack of 38 vintage magazines, was a hand-crocheted turquoise and white doily. Theft was not typically a trait I possessed, but today I would break another rule and take the doily home with me.
Light fixtures had been ripped from the ceiling, doors had been taken off the hinges and the only thing left in the small bathroom was a claw foot tub, possibly because it was too heavy to move. A chain with the badly rotted rubber stopper still swung from the tarnished, frozen faucet.
Spiderwebs decorated every corner and more plastic curtain remnants danced in the breeze blowing in from the shattered windows. I made my way around to the other bedrooms and tried to imagine who might have once graced them with vintage nightcaps and sleepy eyes.
From the third bedroom, I was able to see a small building, almost hidden by tall grass and the same vines that were trying to devour the house. It was too small to have been a barn-like structure or a modern-day garage and it was larger than an old-timey outhouse would have been.
I quickly made my way downstairs, running my hand along the banister and wondered how many hands had touched it in the past. The house was still beckoning my prying eyes, but the little building had captured my interest and curiosity.
Making my way through the maze of weeds, the little building stood in front of me. Like the house, time had taken its toll, but it still stood as if begging to be discovered. There were no windows and the roof was covered in different styles and colors of shingles, ranging from green to blue to black, and from architectural to asbestos.
The door was affixed with two leather straps in lieu of hinges, and seemed to moan as I tugged at the handle. When I finally coaxed it open, my eyes widened with excitement and puzzlement.
I laughed to myself as I wondered…hmm…what is this?
To be continued________________________