Saturday 23 – Sunday 24 July 2011
It’s all about the house and the stories it has to tell.
Martin snatched the keys from Henderson’s hand and headed up the pebbled path to the front door. The covered porch cut the heat by quite a few degrees, making it comfortably warm by the front door. Roisin sighed as she stood by her husband, waiting for him to unlock the front door. The heat really was too much.
‘If we buy this place, Martin, how in God’s name are we going to be able to stand this damned heat? This is ridiculous, and it’s not even full summer yet.’ She wiped a sweaty forearm across her equally sweaty brow.
‘Air conditioning. We’ll get serious air conditioning,’ he replied, pushing the front door open as he spoke.
The smell of stale, long ago locked in air rushed forward and filled the nostrils of the couple. Roisin crinkled her nose at the odour.
‘Smells like something died in there, Martin.’
He nodded in agreement. The house definitely needed to be aired prior to potential buyers being allowed in.
‘I wonder if it’s smelled like this since the Civil War?’ he asked. This time, Roisin nodded, nose still crinkled in objection to the odour.
Henderson, shifted from one foot to the other, and watched from a safe distance as the O’Connell’s casually entered the house, the door slamming behind them. He rushed forward a few steps, then stopped. There was no way he was going to enter that house. Not for anyone. Inside the house, Martin and Roisin O’Connell peeking through the windows that framed the door, laughed like children at Henderson’s lack of composure. Martin opened the door, stuck his head out, and gave a wave to show Henderson that they were both okay. Henderson, relieved, sighed and felt his legs strengthen just a little.
The interior of the house, despite layers upon layers of dust obviously collected over decades, appeared from the foyer to be in reasonable condition. The heavy mahogany door had layers of white paint covering the precious wood underneath, but the paint was in meticulous condition. The small staircase leading to the second floor looked stable and safe. It seemed structurally sound, but they were yet to discover any hidden creaks. Heading off to the right, Martin and Roisin entered a dining room large enough to comfortably contain a table that could seat eight or nine. The room beyond that was the kitchen.
‘Urgh,’ said Roisin, ‘why won’t people renovate in the original architectural style? This is ugly. I mean, black and white ceramic floor tiles, and an apple green splashback. Dear God, what were they thinking?’ She wandered around the room examining the fixtures as she spoke.
‘The serving nook is cool though. Imagine having catered dinner parties with clients. The caterers would have a ball with that. Oh, look. I love dumb waiters,’ he marvelled at the dumb waiter to his left. ‘Wonder if it still works?’ He tugged at the fraying rope and heard the dumbwaiter begin to move. Nodding his approval, he slowly released the rope returning the machine to its position.
Heading back out of the kitchen and through the dining room, Roisin crossed the foyer.
‘What do you think, Martin? Sitting room?’
He followed closely behind. ‘I think you’re probably right, but I’m more interested in checking out the bedrooms upstairs. Heading up to take a peek.’ He looked at her expression. She was displeased.
‘Not in that way, Roisin. I mean, in terms of how much work we’ll have to put into them. Come up when you’re done down here.’
Martin headed upstairs leaving Roisin to investigate the possible sitting room on the ground floor. Outside of the house, Henderson saw a male figure in an upstairs room. He waved, assuming that it was Martin O’Connell. The man did not return the gesture.
‘Rude bastard. Typical. I have a college degree, asshole,’ Henderson commented to no one in particular. He looked at the ground and threw his foot down on a poor, unsuspecting ant. When he returned his gaze to the upper storey window, the man was gone. It sent a shiver through his body, and Henderson raised his free left hand, and flipped the bird to the once present figure.
. . . To be continued . . .