That place there. Who lives there? I’ve always wanted to know. I don’t care for a name, but the essence of the person that occupies that dwelling. The cold type of “who are you” that really means “what are you”. A question generally reserved for psychologists and sociologists. A question that may fill the subject with either pride or sheer horror it they were to contemplate their answer. Let’s not get sidetracked though. Who lives there? Why that particular dwelling and not another? Does the occupant define themselves, purposefully or not, by choosing that particular dwelling over another? Does the occupant define the dwelling by carrying their own story, persona and intent across the threshold? Perhaps they define, refine and redefine each other in an ineffable symbiotic relationship? But this is just a rickety old house we’re looking at – and a small one at that.
The house is typical of the era: turn of the twentieth century, a style often described as a character home. A style that might have at one time been considered modern rather than quaint, as it is now. Set back no more than a metre from the road, it is possible to reach over the fence and touch the walls whilst standing on the sidewalk. Small in all dimensions. Not very high, not very wide. Curved tin roof complete with supporting poles over a non-existent front porch. Overgrown trees make it impossible to see the depth, adding an extra layer of mystery. How small and what is this house really – a two room shack? a four room family home? I have never known that house to be occupied. It is hard to imagine it as a home, far easier as a temporary last resort.
Some friends who live in the town had a story to tell of that house. It wasn’t much of a story, and most likely appealed to nothing more than our teenage minds when we heard it. Quite frankly, it was most likely bullshit. The house was next to a park in a small town of only a few hundred people, so it wasn’t hard to get close to the place at night – very close. A friend’s younger brother and pals (it’s always a relative of a friend or a friend of a relative) were in the park and passed by that place one night, when they thought they heard a sound. No, just the wind. Wait! there it was again. Curiously they crept closer. Closer, closer and … yes! – something. Definitely they heard something. Something human. A voice, two voices? Hearts pounding now. Then the dreaded, clichéd, proverbial and inevitable snapping of the twig underfoot. Turning on heels. Sprinting back off into the safety of darkness.
Maybe they only imagined it, but they swear they heard … people inside … owners? … renters? … squatters? They swear they heard … the sound of …