House on Adams Street

The House on Adams Street

From Casino Danova’s Cartoon and Storybook INTELLITOONS

House on Adams StreetBeing the silent observer that I am, I’ve spent many years watching and listening to the families who moved in and out of the house on Adams Street.

I vividly recall those first days when the house was sparkling clean and brand-new. A middle-aged couple moved in with their three kids. They brought a refreshingly upbeat tempo to the neighborhood.

Dad made a good living managing a large auto supply warehouse. His wife preferred to stay home most of the time, doing motherly chores. When she did leave, I knew not where she went. The kids, ages eight, eleven and fourteen, naturally spent their days in school.

It didn’t take long, however, before I noticed a significant amount of tension in these, otherwise, happy residents. Marty, the youngest, spent considerable time outside, playing with the neighbor kids. Normal, I thought, until the day I overheard him say that his mom didn’t want him in the house when she had visitors. And, she did have visitors, one person in particular.

I began to observe things more closely after Marty revealed this to his pals. Mother didn’t need to admonish the other two children. Jack was into sports after school and the oldest, Joan, often hung out with her boyfriend. It all looked normal to the outsider, but I began to watch more the house more than usual.

It didn’t take long before I saw it. It was a Tuesday morning around 10:30 a.m. The husband came home to nurse a blistering migraine. Not wanting to disturb his wife, who liked to catnap while the kids were in school, he silently opened the door and went straight to the bathroom. He searched for some pills in the medicine cabinet. As he closed the mirrored door, he saw a shadow pass behind him. He turned just in time to see a man leaving the master bedroom. It was Alfred, the outside salesman for his company. Alfred hit the sidewalk and was out of sight in a flash.

I have no idea if anyone else knew what was wrong, considering all the hollering and arguing that went on for hours. But, I knew. And, the argument was loud. It was only a matter of time before the divorce went into the record books and the family eventually disappeared.

The house sat vacant for about four months. Occasionally, someone would stop to mow the lawn and water the shrubs. I began to worry about the condition of the interior, because the utilities had been turned off. A house needs heat to ward off condensation; water must run occasionally to prevent deposits in the pipes; and life in a house will naturally keep rodents and insects at bay.

In early August, a moving van pulled up in front of the house on Adams Street. I saw a lot of very nice furniture being carried in. I felt that furniture always seems to reflect one’s personality. Some use it for show, while others just love to eat off a mahogany dining table with candles burning on the centerpiece.

Along with Mr. and Mrs. Newbie, was a woman, about the age of twenty-five or so. She was thin, gaunt in stature. It turned out that the young woman was Mrs. Newbie’s sister. Before long, I noticed that she was not well. As they left for work one morning, I heard Mr. Newbie tell his wife that they were going to try a different therapist. “Perhaps it would be best to have her committed for a spell,” he suggested. The wife said she’d have to think about it for a day or so.

Well, Fall came as usual and there was a chill in the morning mist. I’ve always had trouble keeping track of time so, before I realized it, Christmas decorations were popping up everywhere. The mahogany table had its usual set of candles, encircled by a green and red wreath. On this wintry day, the wife had spent the morning preparing the ham and sweet potatoes, her sister’s favorite meal. “Please call Peggy, will you, hon?” The Mrs. said.

Mr. headed off down the hall.

“Oh, no!” he shouted, loud enough to disturb the neighbors, two doors down. Mrs. came running. As she entered, Mr. was trying to revive the sister. The wife ran to the phone to call for paramedics. By the time the ambulance arrived, it was obviously too late. The autopsy report revealed a massive overdose of heroin; “Enough to choke an elephant,” was the way the coroner put it.

Christmas didn’t come that year in the house on Adams Street. Family, and a few neighbors, came and went. A soft-spoken word of condolence and everyone went back to living. Mr. and Mrs. didn’t talk much after that. Oh, they got along well enough, but they were immersed in their own thoughts; should he have been more observant? Should we have institutionalized Sister sooner? What if we had given her more of our time? What if? What IF!!!

The Newbie’s stayed in the house for three more years but Sister’s death had put a strain on their marriage. They did go to counseling for a spell, but it was all to no avail. They began sleeping in separate bedrooms, “to give us more time and space,” the husband had decided.

On a warm day in May, I saw a For Sale sign in the front yard. For the Newbies, a life of sorrow and never-ending questions had taken its toll. It often does that to families.

One day, you’re happy as can be. The next day, the world just stops turning. You get left behind, only to finally awaken and discover how out of sync you’ve been. Too busy living to live! You never knew that another man could wipe out everything you worked for; or, that a drug overdose could stop time, not only for the user, but for everyone who loved her.

The house was getting older. The Azaleas and Camellias were coming into bloom, making everything look so fresh and welcome. Enhancing the pristine condition of the house, the mahogany table had been left behind. Mrs. Newbie couldn’t bear the memory of that setting. Though the agent had disclosed that a young woman had died in the house, a lot of people still considered buying it. And, as always happens, sooner or later, another person moves in. This time it was a single guy.

The next five years were more than exciting. Dave, the new owner was a first-class gigolo. I was astounded by the number of women who walked in and out his door. Blondes, brunettes, long hair, short, tall, it didn’t matter to Dave. Most would stay overnight, some a couple of nights. I was always amused, watching them leave just before the morning sun unveiled their deeds.

Some would leave with an endless grin. They’d sit in their car and adjust their makeup in the rear-view mirror. Others looked surprised when Dave hollered, “I’ll call you,” as they opened their car door. That last gasp of hope would surely last another few hours. As an attentive observer of Dave’s habits, however, I knew that that girl wouldn’t get the call. Most fascinating, were the number of women who, as they pulled away from the curb, showed Dave their middle finger. He would just smile and shut the door.

I had no idea where he worked, but it didn’t matter. I was enjoying the sights and sounds, the actions and reactions of Dave and his girlfriends.

Now, you may wonder how I came to know so much about the house on Adams Street. I knew all about the wife’s adultery. I watched as Sister overdosed. And, of late, I’ve been anticipating each new sunset to see how Dave twists and turns each of his dates down the hallway.

At first, I wasn’t thrilled about the black light and mirrored ball he installed in the master bedroom, but I’ve grown to like it. I have time. That’s all I have. One day, another family will move in and it will be a different story.

Every day brings something new on Adams Street. Daily, I vent my thoughts with the other houses. What goes on inside of me is quite mild, compared to the ugly stuff that goes on in their inner sanctums.

But none of this is a surprise because you’re just another tenant!

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