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The Lions Behind the Chainlink Fence

November 14, 2010


Some people swore the house was haunted likely because it looked out of place on the crowded street-too hulkingly big and disproportionate to the smaller saltboxes near it. Its chain link fence with rambling honeysuckle obscuring the sprawling yard and stone lions sitting sentry over the men in skirts and women in construction boots lay bare with grass that never seemed to grow. In the civil twilight the top floor with its large glass windows reflected the black and empty contents echoing that no one lived there. It was a captain’s house and the windows that if you looked through them on a clear day would allow you to see Plymouth.


There were rumors about the house as most houses have history in this town fraught with sex, drugs, violence, ill-tempered distribution of wealth and cranky family members unable to pay the taxes on a home with no mortgage. The seaside appears peacefully idyllic until it comes to who owns what and how much money you could make if you sold it.


Townies tend to mind their own business and not muddle around in other peoples lives but you hear things. People talk out of the sides of their mouths over beer and shots in the winter but in the summer everyone is too busy trying to make enough money to live through the winter, get laid before all the hotties leave town and sleeping off enormous hangovers cured only by a strong cup of a coffee and a flipper. Its cold in the winter and you keep to yourself. Most successful families are big fish in a small pond like the fish in Mary’s pond that build circular rock nests that they hover over. Although this house was certainly a fancy nest there was no big fish hovering over it and because no one lived there it was out of place.


The house just sat there year after year and the only thing that seemed alive was the sweet smelling vine of honeysuckle that grew and made the already crowded sidewalk more awkward to maneuver especially if it was before or after Tea Dance. Thumping house music, muscled men and sweet flower perfume from the crush of traffic walking by without any notice. I always stared, looking for something-some change or any flicker of life within the clapboard. I half expected it to be bought by some rich California power lesbians who owned a chain of gourmet donut shops or an eccentric retired distinguished single gentleman who made his money in the 80’s and has been spending it on young men and champagne for a decade.


Winters and summers came and went and slowly my new husband who use to just be my boyfriend and I think about moving away. I am just leaving behind a life that I started and lived for a while in a new place but he would be leaving his hometown. A town that for him did not hold as much mystery as it did for me but bred a familiarity born of where your soul began.


In December of 1998, a year after I married my boyfriend on a preppy island a ferry ride away from where we lived my mother died and in exchange left me a house not unlike the towering captain’s house I walked by with its honeysuckle, chain link and lions. I inherited a house I knew was haunted without enchantment, but with a past of which I had to let go.


Nothing was the same again after that.


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