“You cannot ride down there. Little boys should not ride near that house…”

We all know one. Many of us had one. Most of us feared it: The House Down The Road. Mine was a generic, two story, run-down, brown house. It was deeply shrouded in leafless trees and somehow always shadowed. I stayed with my grandmother most of the time. She lived in a big, white house on a corner blessed with a large, sunny yard. Two trees grew there: a climbable apple tree in the back and a majestic maple in the front. Down the road, on the opposite corner, was a house of the exact opposite. It was as if a perfect reciprocation of our house had been constructed specifically to balance the light and dark of the neighborhood.

“Those leaves are never raked because no one will go near that house!”

We lived in a medium town, not tiny and not huge. So this block, like most blocks in our town, had about five houses, all with yards. I, being a brave age of seven or eight, loved to ride my Huffy as far as I could. Around the block I’d go; then down one street just to turn and go right back up it. I loved to bike ride. My grandmother liked to impose.

“I’m watching you. You better not ride near that house.”

My family background is strongly paranoid with my grandmother as the matriarch paranoid. All the stories of the house that rumored around the town coupled with the sheer look of it made her sincerely fear it. I, being the small, impressionable child, of course bought into it (and developed my own paranoia, but that’s a much scarier story for a far different time). I would steer clear of that house. Day after day, I would feel a pain in the pit of my stomach if I biked even in the direction of that house. She had me conditioned to sheer terror in response to that house.

“You won’t come back if you go there. You won’t come back. You better not go near that house.”

I never even had the guts to ask the story until I was nearly nine years old. By the time I was ten I started to question the validity of it. Yes, it’s just that ridiculous…

“Many years ago two sisters lived there alone. They would never go anywhere. All they did was read. All day long they would sit and read, lay down and read, talk and read. One day, when the younger sister was downstairs reading the paper, laying on the hardwood floor, the older sister took a nap upstairs. By the time the older sister came downstairs the paper was shredded and spread across the floor soaking up the blood from the missing body of the younger sister. She ran from the house screaming and tripped on her sister’s head on the front stairs, fell head over heels, and died on the porch. They dragged the body off and no one would go near the house again.”

I peed my pants over that.
I peed my pants over that?!

By the time I was old enough to realize how crazy my family was I stopped staying at her house as often and started biking by that house laughing every time. Last week I drove by and had to physically stop. It’s been 17 years since I was last scared to go near there and now, I really wanted to. Why… because it’s been majorly remodeled, has some great siding and landscaping, and is for sale. Such a quaint little house now, up on a hill, looking out over the lake. Dammit.

Nods to The Quest

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