Two men are standing in the backyard of a small rundown house.
The realtor looks at the house with a mix of uncertainty and mild remorse.
He hoped the house would be in better shape.
Thirty years of neglect has taken its toll.
“I heard a couple of boys vanished in these woods years ago,” the buyer says.
“It’s a local legend. Brothers, Kevin and Jesse. They were playing in their yard and vanished.”
“This yard? They lived in this house?” the buyer asks.
“Yes. To be honest, I was going to leave that bit of background out. It’s not exactly a selling point.”
“How does anyone know they went in the woods?”
“They found one of the boys’ shoes next to an old tree stump.”
“That’s it. No other sign of the boys was ever found.”
“And the house?” “Abandoned. Left to rot.”
“The family just left it?”
“The boys’ mother went crazy, I heard.
The husband wanted to sell the house and move, get away from the memories I guess. "
She refused to sell. She kept insisting the boys were still here.
"From what I heard she was obsessed
with keeping the house exactly the way it was the day they vanished too.”
“Crazy.” “Yeah, crazy.”
“The husband left both her and the house. Walked away and never looked back. "
"She stayed in the house for a while, until she was committed."
“Can I take a look inside?”
“Sure, let’s go. I have to warn you, this will be the first time anyone has set foot inside
that house in thirty years. I don’t know what we’ll find.”
The house is an average lower middle-class family home.
Smallish, but not quite as small as the low-income homes across the way.
The windows are hazy with the grime of thirty years
of neglect and the paint long ago cracked and much of it worn away by the weather.
The windowsills sag with rot, half eaten by time.
The shingles are cracking and peeling up and back
like over-cooked sliced potatoes, browned rather than charred and entirely inedible.
The long grass of the yard had recently been
clumsily hacked down, hastily driven over by a municipal riding mower
Now the house is up for auction to collect the unpaid property taxes and municipal fees owed.
With most of the records from thirty years ago gone,
all they could find owed on the property is the cost of the most recent grass cuttings.
The whopping price of fifty-six dollars. Less than the price of a song and a dance.
The place is a steal.
They reach the door and the realtor fumbles
with the key safe looped around the doorknob, trying to remember the combination to open it.
Finally, he opens it and releases its treasure,
a worn looking house key
with the color rubbing off and marred with bits of rust in the teeth.
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