Sep
23
2019
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The House, Part 12/x

http://moelane.com/tag/the-house/

So much for my mid-morning to early afternoon.  Although it was probably for the best; I felt more relaxed and perceptive, afterward.  I do not shun the company of other people, understand. I do not dislike them, either (this is common enough misapprehension of my behavior that I can only assume that I give off that impression).  But maintaining relationships is difficult for me. I’m not a sociopath, though admittedly I know this mostly because I keep my promises and do not blame other people for my own failings. I am simply capable of great detachment.

Which is why I promptly went to a local pet supply store, once Betty finally left. I did not know whether or not the house really attracted small animals, presumably terminally.  But if the house did, it would be simple enough to test for.

No cats, birds, or dogs, though.  People care about those. They do care about white mice, too — but only the ones that are not sold as snake food.  So I acquired one of those. Oh, and a small supply of food, litter, a cage; assuming that the experiment didn’t work, I would have a live mouse to deal with, at least until I finally let it loose in the yard myself, and I do not find cruelty interesting.

Not that it mattered.

Sep
23
2019
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The House, Part 11/x

I knew I forgot to do something yesterday: to wit, put this up.

http://moelane.com/tag/the-house/

“But where do they go?” I asked.  Betty gave me a look; it took me a moment to realize that this was also meant to be a response.  “I think that I would have noticed a pack of dogs around the house!” I said.

Betty poured herself a cup of coffee.  “I didn’t say that it was you doing it.  Just that everytime anybody did see a lost pet, they always saw it last around where you’re living now.  And not just cats and dogs, either. At least one person, maybe twenty years ago, moved here and he brought a parrot with him.  I remember seeing it in the cage, being carried up the sidewalk to the house, and I said to myself Man, that’s a shame.  It was a pretty bird.  And a week later, it was gone.”  Betty shook her head. “Must of gotten the cage door open.  That’s what my dad said, at least.”

“And the window? Did the parrot open that, too?” I asked.

“They’re smart birds. Maybe it used its beak.  You ever see any feathers around the place?”

“No,” I said. “Not a one.  You’re welcome to look” — and then I winced, inside, as she brightened a little at that.  Betty looked at the wall clock, gave a half smile, and stood up.

“That’s very friendly of you.  I think I will.”

Sep
21
2019
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The House, Part 10/x.

http://moelane.com/tag/the-house/

“They dislike the area?” I asked.  Animals react differently to the supernatural than people do; or so I have been told, over and over and over again.  It would be mildly annoying to find out that possibly one should pay attention to a cat or dog’s antics, after all. But Betty shook her head a second time.

“It’s not like that,” and she said my first name. I was less happy about it in her mouth than in Wayne’s, but I am good at hiding annoyances.  Besides, she was telling me things I didn’t already know, which is something I like to see in a person. “They always seem to like it fine when they’re here.  But turn your back on a dog in the yard, or leave the door open too long for the cat, and when you turn around, they’re gone. And they never come back. Some families, try three or four times to get a pet before they just give up.” 

Betty leaned back, and made the twitch I knew to associate with an ex-smoker.  Judging from the way she was talking to me, I suspected I would be reasonably grateful for that.  “Me, this was my parents’ house. They sat me down and explained that this was just how things were, around here. Nobody could keep pets, they’d go away.”

Sep
20
2019
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The House, Part 9/x

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It is difficult to ask a neighborhood if something is out there, and eating their pets. Although I was mildly surprised to find myself on remarkably good terms with my neighbors: I am not at my best when it comes to purely social occasions, but word had apparently gone out that I was wealthy. I was also living in the house, which automatically made me some sort of eccentric recluse in everyone else’s eyes.  I might have been annoyed at that, but at least it meant that any attempts at social interaction on my part would be viewed in the most favorable light. And this is, admittedly, a refreshing change.

So there I was, then, sitting in someone’s actual kitchen, and drinking a cup of mildly inoffensive coffee while I ‘chatted’ with Betty. That is not her real name, either.  One must be polite.

Betty was old enough to be divorced, and her kitchen suggested the presence of teenagers, rather than children.  She was also a happy gossip, up until the moment that I mentioned that I was considering getting a bird of some sort.  Then Betty shook her head, in a way that I found a touch intriguing. “Animals don’t stick around here,” she said.

Sep
19
2019
4

The House, Part 8/x

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It took me a few days to realize the absence of one particular type of noise from outside: birdsong.  I have no objection to birdsong, understand. Obviously, it is merely the monotonous repetition of certain sounds, with no beauty or relevance to humanity save what we impose on it.  But I am not offended that such a thing might exist, and the noises are rarely annoying enough to hinder me from sleeping, or enjoying actual art, or doing anything else, really.  So I felt neither apprehension nor relief in the realization that no birds sang anywhere near the house.

But I did find it interesting.  And, once I paid more attention, I noticed that there were no squirrels near my house, either. No birds, no ‘woodland creatures,’ not even small lizards or frogs.  Which meant that the area should have been literally crawling with bugs, of course; but there was nary a spiderweb or a wasps’ nest to be seen. Even my neighbors did not have ‘bug zappers’ or other grisly amusements on their own properties.

And there was not a single family with a pet who lived within two blocks of the house.  Well, as far as I could tell. I was not about to start looking through windows.

Sep
18
2019
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The House, Part 7/x

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For one thing, it took me a few days to notice that the doors to the rooms all opened out, not in.  It seems like such a little thing, but the effect was as if everything that came in from outside was steadily drawn down and into the house’s center.  Certainly little items, left unsecured, had a habit of ending up in the living and dining rooms somehow; particularly if they were pretty, or valuable.  After a while, I started leaving my keys on the dining room table (oak, ponderous, might as well have been bolted to the floor), because that’s where they always seemed to end up anyway.

Also: inside the house, I could hear outside noises normally.  But take two steps outside of it, and I couldn’t hear a single sound coming from within.  This effect even worked when the door was open; the sound of the radio (shortwave, stolid 1950s aesthetic) inside faded and disappeared most amazingly as soon as I crossed the threshold.  The results were not conclusive — there was not a clear line of sight from the door to the radio; and the radio was bolted to the wall, presumably because of the antenna — but I found them persuasive.  The house was definitely more than it appeared.

I just didn’t know why.

Sep
17
2019
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The House, Part 6/x

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Dramatic moments aside, it was two weeks later that I moved in.  As promised, the house came fully furnished — although I made sure to arrange for my own mattress — and it was a good thing that I liked the decor, because the furniture was apparently chosen for weight.  Even the dining room chairs were cumbersome to move, and the bed itself proved virtually impossible to shift. Whoever decorated the house originally clearly was an individual of strong opinions, even if those opinions were not linked to a traditional aesthetic sense. I personally found the whole effect bracing, which was a pleasant surprise.

(more…)

Sep
16
2019
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The House, Part 5/x

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“Fall short?” I said, pausing for a moment from my veal scallopini. Which was surprisingly delicate, actually.  “Is it a house, or a competition?”

“Consider it more of a challenge,” Wayne said with a minor wave.  “Some houses have personalities. You could very well say this one has opinions.  And an expectation that those opinions get respected.”

“Opinions, but no history,” I said.  “That combination seems odd.”

Wayne smiled, almost as if I had scored a point somewhere. “Ah, so you have looked into the house?” 

I shrugged.  “Morbid curiosity.”

(more…)

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Sep
15
2019
2

The House, Part 4/x

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After all of this, it seemed terribly anticlimactic to discover that the house was available for rent.

I discovered this while physically examining the house’s property record; most of the entries were digitized, but the town had not yet gotten to this particular property.  Included in the extremely bland information available had been a business card for a local real estate office, attached to the last sale deed (Bland LLC to Boring LLC, nothing interesting or noteworthy).  On a whim, I called the number; surprisingly, the number still worked and the company still existed. I made an appointment with the houses broker for the next day.

(more…)

Sep
14
2019
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The House, Part 3/X

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I shall elide the name of the town, for the protection of those reading it: call it Pericarp.  It is a small town, and pleasant enough, for those who like that sort of thing. I found it flavorless, and its inhabitants moreso, right up to the moment where I would inquire about the house. Then their reactions to it were most intriguing, indeed.

(more…)

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