Last night, we went and looked at a house that is for sale in Everett which is VALUED at $380,000 but is for some reason been on the market for a year-and-a-half listed at $180,000. We HAD to see what was wrong with it.
FACTS: Two stories plus a basement. Three bedrooms, 1.75 baths, 2 kitchens, fully finished basement, 2-car garage and workshop, nice yard, great neighborhood. Built in 1910, every Street View and Satelite View image we could find of the place made it seem just perfect. Look at this picture!
And so we got hold of a real estate agent, and we went to see it. We got there about 15 minutes early so we could check out the exterior and peek in the windows (as one does in these situations).
The first thing you really "notice" without noticing, is that it's the only yard in the neighborhood with no bushes or trees; JUST GRASS. Bits of grown-over scorched earth here and there revealed what seemed to be diseased stumps of trees with stubborn roots that refused to be removed years ago and so were shaved down to ground level as to hopefully erase them from memory.
The house exterior is both nostalgic and melancholic at the same time, being the same shingle-style siding that was on the house I grew up in AND the same "Charcoal Grey" color of paint slapped over it some time in the late 1980's, now peeling around the edges. Already, this house was whispering, calling to me... "Remember your paaaaaast... remember your childhood... remember..."
How long till it would be whispering "Doooo ittttt...", I wondered?
Next we went through the tall, wooden gate into the back yard and found a LARGE deck which had been built and painted around the same time that the house had been painted, around 1987 or so. Peeling, creaking, but solid none the less. The deck was high enough to cover the seperate back entrance door that lead to The Basement, so that was neat - basement entry! This yard, also, bereft of any trees or plants. The two-car garage, which could be driven into from the alley, had a door and a window that faced the house. It was pitch black in there.
...And the door was *open*.
Molly and Crystal both decided against investigating, but my machismo kicked in so I started to walk towards the dark, open door and then froze in my tracks - what I *could* see, A makeshift table covered in cans (beer and beans, it seemed) next to some overturned milk crates, and some flattened-out cardboard boxes on the floor let me know that *somebody* was living in there.
We moved away from there, going back to the front of the house to wait for the realtor.
While we waited, we noticed that SOME of the windows had been updated to energy efficient vinyl, and the other... *more interesting* windows, had been left in their original state and painted shut. It was these windows, in their massive wooden window panes, that once again were whispering "Joinnnn usssss... Rememberrrrrr..." as we waited.
Once the realtor showed up and opened the door for us, THAT'S when the true MADNESS of this house really struck us.
Now before I get into this, I have to warn you that this truly was a MADNESS INDUCING HOUSE. From the moment we left, we couldn't remember all the details of the house because our brains just couldn't wrap themselves around what we had seen. We kept on having to correct ourselves, KNOWING that we COULDN'T have seen what we just saw because it made no sense. Our minds were trying to protect us from what we had seen by making us POSITIVE that we MUST have just imagined it!
Here is my best attempt at reconstructing the experience for you.
As the door opened, we were greeted with an OVERWHELMING scent of human urine. Not dog, not cat, that's MAN-MADE PEE PEE, which was really strange since the house had supposedly been vacant for 18 months.
I'm sitting here trying to type out exactly what we saw, but my brain just... I keep doubting it and things keep shifting. So here's a list of unconnected memories. See if they don't make you crazy.
- A room off of the main room with a door that leads to a long, narrow (almost too narrow to fit in) closet which has a door that isn't a door in it, and wallpaper half peeled off the wall to reveal solid wood beneath where somebody has spray painted some letters in circles near the door that isn't a door.
- The "Master Bathroom" is DIRECTLY connected to the kitchen, so you can take a Jacuzzi bath while frying eggs. The bathroom is the most modern part of the house, with a gaping hole of entropy near the toilet where we assume the Hot Water Heater should go.
- Another strange, narrow closet/room off of the kitchen with a wire shelf and hooks on the wall, possibly a walk-in pantry?
- A square staircase in the middle of the house that is *beautiful*, with a secret harry Potter Cupboard under it, and the strangest 6-inch-wide, 5-foot tall, 6-foot deep cupboard with shelves built in every 10-inches or so, on the side that faces the kitchen. No idea what you could keep in a cupboard like that.
- The entire second floor had a 6-foot ceiling, giving the whole thing a terribly claustrophobic sensation of being in a treehouse.
- The "Master bedroom" upstairs had a closet that opened to where the outcropped window used to be. On the outside of the building there is still a cute A-Frame window out there, but inside it is an A-frame closet with clothes hanging bars hovering two feet off the ground.
- Also upstairs, right as you got off the stairs at the tallest section of the roof, was an unnervingly off-center "Sitting bench" of sorts? A little bench built into the wall where somebody who was no older than nine might be able to sit.
- A strange, thin will that almost extended all the way to the second bedrooms door but then stopped just short, with a perfect alcove of exposed wires and heating ducts large enough to store 2 bodies.
- And last but not least, THE BASEMENT. Check this out...
going down to the basement was frightening enough with the lack of a handrail or anything to cling to except the walls, but once you got down there? DESPITE the newly refinished and sheet-rocked walls, DESPITE the little modern dorm-style kitchen they had put in, DESPITE the lovely 3/4ths Bath (Toilet and Shower) they had installed... the only thing you could really notice was the giant pit that had chiseled out of the hard, concrete foundation that was full to very top with a glass-like pool of clear, reflective water and the tentacles of creeping black mold that emanated from it all the way to the walls, where it was silently reaching towards the basement window in a desperate attempt to black out the only source of sunlight.
We all rolled a Save Vs. Insanity, and *failed*. We laughed and giggled and gibbered like friggin' IDIOTS all the way home. Even the Realtor was under it's deadly spell - "Well, I *have* the paperwork here if you, ah, heh... uh... no."