The Research: Home and Hearth
There’s a House beneath the Mangrove trees, up on the northern hill. The Homeowners Association should do something. Its an old house, been there since the sixties. Square top, square walls. The man who owns it, strange man, is old. Old and private, staring out with only one eye. Occasionally he has the decency to wear an eye patch. Sometimes he has no decency at all, and slips around the yard stark naked at night.
But the lawn is the travesty, dead brown grass stabbing up through the rocky ground. The mangroves, they make these great swooping arcs over it all. Birds like to crap on them, and sometimes it looks like a snow storm has swept through. Something really should be done, with that chic statues outside. Big smiling faces sitting on cupids. A few hunched over dog-men are placed around. They smell, the neighbors say, like formaldehyde.
The house has three floors, all with windows. Windows wide open. They always glow faint blue, and you can hear from the street the sounds of old commercials for Warbonds and football games between the static. On Saturday’s its cartoons, Looney Toons and local broadcast cartoons. The kind of cartoons that have big talking ships or strange rubber suited monsters. At least, that’s what the kids say.
Mr. Leman says there are puppets in the closet, near the crates of rat poison. Of course, in this town, it’s foolish to forget the rat poison. Rodents and pests Even if it accidentally kills a pet, like the fluff of fur in the driveway of the house. Someone should clean it up, its beginning to rot and no one wants flies. They get nasty, nipping at your feet like mosquito.
The garden in the back is well kept, large green bushes blocking out the flowers. There white, ashen things. The mangrove trees sometimes starve them, but mostly their fine. There are rat bodies in the roots, the help says. Suppose it makes good fertilizer.
He has red skin, and the doctor says his veins are bursting with blood. His blood presumably. The doctor didn’t say. The garden is well kept, lined and orderly. Some nights he snoops around, shining lights into the sky. The light pollution is intolerable. Maybe he’s signaling something. Planes or wolves in the woods. The children say they see things moving out there. Probably rats.
The Homeowners association wants to talk to him about his cars. Their old, rusting things, lumps of metal with rubber wheels. He doesn’t answer the door, but he takes in all his mail. And he gets a lot of mail. The post officer says its mostly magazines. Letters too, never packages. He plasters his windows with them sometimes.
Some men from Indonesia visit the house regularly. They stay up all night in the blue lit rooms watching television. They never drive, but don’t walk their either. Just there sometimes. Something really should be done.
He had chains and barbed wire delivered once. The convenience store owner saw him taking dirt out of the basement. Needs more room, he said. Needs more room. The state should investigate, if your allowed to do things like that.
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