Thursday, June 30, 2016

Tillery and Chicon - Uno

It was an innocuous little house, almost picture perfect in its charm. A long rectangular building, with pale yellow paint that glowed when the sunlight filtered through the tall cottonwoods and elder pecan trees. It was built during the 40's on an old, tree lined lived-in-by-families neighbourhood. The outside of the house and surrounding property had aged gracefully over the years, with quaint little flowerbeds lined by long, wide sidewalks.

It sat on the strangest shaped lot I had ever seen. The house proper sat on a squarish plot, but then it tapered to this long point towards the east, like a spear aimed at the rising sun. At that point was on a crossroad. Well, the street changed names when you went around that sharp corner. I'm not sure what the founding fathers' intent was. The angle was so severe that cars had to move very slowly into the turn, and drivers had to wait at each side of the lot for on-coming cars to finish their journey.

The angles were tight, the path was bottlenecked and the light was speared.

The house sat directly across the street from a police substation and a half-way house for South American refugees. 'Nice….' Oh well, I could live with a lot of things, if motivated.

The house was a two bedroom, one bathroom setup. I had seen the same floor plan in many older houses - high ceilings, big old country kitchen and living room on one end and the bedrooms on the other. A long, dark hall leading from the kitchen to the bedroom wing, the bathroom in the middle and a closet at the end. The inside was dilapidated - dingy grey and brown stained walls, filthy yellowed windows, and dirt piled up in every corner. But it had longed-for hardwood floors, and all the odd little eccentricities of an older house. I've always had a soft spot for old houses, so I was excited about moving into this one. A little paint, some TLC, and it should be more than habitable. I was starting a new life, moving in with a man I loved. What more could one ask for? He had inherited the house from his father. And in the months prior to the move I had heard a lot about this house. How and when it was built, of his father's love of it, of his pride in all the developments over the years. So I felt I already knew this place, had become intimate, become old friends.

The house had a little something extra – his father had built on a strange addition onto the north east side and had left the floors as dirt. The room was sunk into the ground, and when looked at from the outside, resembled a bunker or a hobbit's dwelling. And nothing would stay clean in this room for long, the brown earth and dust settling on every surface, clinging to your clothes and hair when you walked through. It had a door that you entered by walking out the backdoor of the house and crossing the porch, and one window which faced east. Lots of nooks and crannies, shelves and corners. I was drawn to this room almost from the start. I would go there by myself almost daily and look out the window and weep from the bottom of my soul, not understanding why. I would take to wandering the dirt floors, not exactly pacing, but moving, aimlessly, from corner to corner, as if looking for a something I didn't know I was missing. I felt a presence, not malignant but aware. I believe it was his father, ruing his life and his choices. For he had lived life large, hurting many people in his neglect. And he paid for it in the end because all those he thought loved him had drifted away. And in the days and months to come, this room became my sanctuary. I ran to the father for protection, for camaraderie, not knowing if he even saw me in his self centred misery.

I set to work making the place a home, ours. I even put in new gardens, enriching the love-starved earth with compost, my sweat and my love. I spent a lot of time out there on that point. I could feel an entity out there, just beneath the soil. An ancient being that rose up to meet the sun on certain eolian occasions. Hopefully he would not stir in the near future, for I felt it would tear us all asunder when he ripped himself from the earth.

The bedroom on the southeast corner was not used. My lover said it was his parent's room, the bridal chamber for the couple when the whole family lived there, so he didn't feel comfortable sleeping in it. We moved into the southwest bedroom and made do, even though the other was of a grander size. I went about making it ours; you know the spiel – bedspreads, curtains, knick knacks. But the closet in that room……… in the middle of the night I could feel something stir the breeze, hear a disjointed breath. If I opened my eyes and looked up, I swear I could see eyes..... glowing green eyes.... up in the top left-hand corner.... on the shelf. I asked him about the house then – who had lived there, what had transpired. He told me about the anger, the family violence, the neighbourhood gang fights. About one of his brothers shooting him in the stomach during a family quarrel. And how the second brother, who had slept in our room, had been the youngest person in the city to be convicted of murder and sent off to prison with the men. Of how this brother felt he was possessed by evil spirits and that he eventually killed himself after his release.

Now I don't think those eyes belonged to this long deceased brother, but I did feel his presence – a howling from the depths of hell, not for release but for notice. For recognition, for acceptance of all his foibles and choices, and of his need for it to be known that it was not him that committed those acts, but that someone else's hands had guided his. That he took responsibility for the other's power on him. That he felt he deserved the torment he then and now suffered. How can this be? A ghost in the depths of depression….

No, those eyes belonged to some other creature. Not a demon per se, more like an ancient maligner. Perhaps from the time of the sun worshiper. So I began the process of cleansing. Prayers were spoken. Amulets created, hung and worn. Herbs planted for protection. Symbols etched into earth, wood, paint and trees. The sun and moon were my accomplices. I burned sage daily, hung witches balls near all the entrances, placed mythical statues at cross-hairs. I even spoke with my lover's mother about the house. She said she had felt the angry malignancy when she lived there. That it had driven her out and killed her love. She had been practicing cleansing rites for many years as a result, searching for the ones that would work, would heal. Using old Indian magic, the church's crutches….. anything. For she felt her family had become tainted as a result of living on that patch of earth. I still felt it had something to do with the spear pointed at the rising sun….

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