Ghosts in the Suburbs – Curse #227P

Posted on November 18, 2011


The man said, my family isn’t home.

Oh, I said. I was one of the neighbors. I said, where did they go?

They are on vacation, he said. We all need a vacation sometimes. Even wives and children.

We both stared at the lawn in cooperative stillness.

So what do you want me to do again, I finally said.

He broke into a smile. I want you to go and grab the stones, he said.

I said, those rocks there? I pointed to a pile of carefully collected stones.

Yes, he said.

Then what, I said.

He said, I’ll be inside the house. I want you to start by breaking all of the windows. I’ll shout directions after that.

He scurried into the house. He forgot to pay me first. I had specifically told him that I required payment up front. I was part of a wrecking crew. My job was to wreck things. I wrecked houses and people and picnics and dates. I could pretty much wreck anything for a price. I went ahead and decided to front my services.  It was the lonely look in his eyes.

I began to pick up stones and hurl them at the house. I didn’t have the best aim. I hit both vinyl and glass. Stop wasting the rocks, I could hear him yell through one of the broken windows. I stopped wasting the rocks and got the hang of it. The windows began to shatter and explode and eventually he began to shout like an excited child.

Great, he exclaimed. Pull back. Throw another.

I pulled back and threw another. And another. And another.

There is a can of gasoline behind the maple tree, he shouted. Go get it and douse the front door.

I went and got the can. It was full and I took it to the front door and splashed it everywhere. I went to light it.

Damn, I thought, no lighter. My mother had been trying to get me to stop smoking.

I don’t have a lighter, I shouted.

Check the mailbox, he said. He was on the third floor now, peering out of a particularly well shattered window.

Yes. There was a lighter in the mailbox. There was a post card from Las Vegas. His family had sent it. The post card was a picture of a casino. They were gambling. The whole family was gambling and playing craps. They had won some money. They had bought a house. They had bought a dog and a second house. They were lucky. It seemed like they were lucky.

Okay, I said. Are you sure about this?

Yes, he said. Light her up!

I lit her.  She whooshed. The house was mostly wood. The vinyl began to drip.

I heard him up on the third floor shouting and crying and screaming obscenities. I heard him shout, yes, just like that! Just like every day! Warfare! God damnit! WAR!

As the fire quickly began to work its way up to the third floor he began to throw furniture and appliances out of the house. First there was a computer and then a desk chair and then other items one after the other. He was frantic now. Soon there were firemen and police and neighbors standing in the streets, all full of shaking heads and gossip and whisper campaigns. This is the suburbs, I thought to myself, plenty of work for a wrecker in the suburbs. I joined the crowd and began to network, looking for new clients.

Posted in: Year 1: Curse